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South Africa - "If I could travel through time, I would change that part of my life": Zuko, from gang member to youth leader

2 weeks ago

(ANS - Cape Town) - Zuko Mabene is a 19-year-old South African living in Cape Town. The loss of his mother, economic hardships at home and his subsequent ill-treatment by his stepmother led Zuko to seek refuge, for a short time, in the streets and become a member of a gang. He thought he would be more respected that way, but he wasn't meant to hurt anyone and suffered when he did have to take part in fights. Fortunately, he soon understood what he was doing and now, thanks to the Salesian "Life Choice" program, he has become a youth leader and a model for others.

At the age of two, he was too young to remember his mother's death, but he feels the lack of affection due to her absence. Then his father's new marriage meant ill-treatment for him and his brother. Both spent more time in the streets than at home.

At the age of 13, Zuko was fascinated by gangs fighting in the streets on a daily basis. "Everyone was afraid of them and it was normal to even see stabbings. It would be the way everyone recognized me," he recalls.

Zuko never had the soul of a hooligan or violent person, but it was time to show the rest of the group that he too was a "big gangster". In a fight he stabbed another young man. "I felt weird, I saw everything in slow motion. I had blood on my hands and when I got home I prayed he wouldn't die."

But the episode that changed his life was when, in another fight, his great friend Shipo was struck down. Zuko hesitated between helping Shipo or saving his own life and he chose the latter. He later learned that his friend had been beaten to death. The young man felt guilty and isolated from the rest of the gang for abandoning him in the fight. It was not difficult to choose to leave that world of violence.

"If I could travel through time, I'd change that part of my life. I can't remember any good and that's why I now dedicate myself to advising and helping young people, but also adults, to be more attentive to their children. We need the wisdom of adults not to lose hope and find answers to our youth problems," says Zuko, who today has become a youth leader and a reference model thanks to Don Bosco's charism and the opportunity that the "Life Choice " has given him.

  • Sudafrica
  • Zuko
  • Giovani
  • Vita
    Jesus Jurado

    Vatican - With Mass in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis opens Amazon Synod

    2 weeks ago
    Vatican - With Mass in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis opens Amazon Synod

    (ANS - Vatican City) - "When peoples and cultures are devoured without love and without respect," said Pope Francis, "it is not God’s fire but that of the world. Yet how many times the gift of God has not been offered but imposed, how many times there has been colonization rather than evangelization! May God preserve us from the greed of the new colonialisms." These are the words of Pope Francis from Sunday 6 October in the homily of the opening of the special Synod for the Amazon.

    With the Synod, the themes of evangelization in a difficult region will be brought to the Vatican for the next three weeks, as will the themes of the custody of Creation and the defense of human dignity.

    Also concelebrating the opening Mass of the Synod were the new cardinals, created by Pope Francis on Saturday 5 October. Indeed, the Pontiff's reflection was based precisely on the theme of the gift that the Spirit gives to priests and bishops. "We are bishops because we have received a gift of God," said the Holy Father. "We received a gift so that we might become a gift. Gifts are not bought, traded or sold; they are received and given away," he added.


    Pope Francis urged to feed the fire of the Spirit which, if not kept alive, goes out and is covered by ashes. And while the fire of faith must be fed, there is another fire that must be avoided: the fire set by profits. This, on the contrary, is a devouring fire, a fire that destroys, like the one that has devastated the Amazon in recent months. This fire, warned Pope Francis, "blazes up when people want to promote only their own ideas… in the attempt to make everyone and everything uniform."

    Pope Francis underlined the importance of martyrdom for the faith and thanked God for the presence of several cardinal martyrs in the College of Cardinals. It is in the heart of Jesus Crucified, in fact, that we must turn our gaze, feeling ourselves summoned, all of us, to give our lives, he said.

    In conclusion, Pope Francis addressed a thought to "our brothers and sisters in Amazonia who are bearing heavy crosses and awaiting the liberating consolation of the Gospel, the Church’s caress of love."

    Finally, he recalled the words of Cardinal Hummes, who regularly visits the graves of martyr missionaries in the small towns of the Amazon, who said to the Pope: "'Don't forget them! They deserve to be canonized.'" "For them and with them," the Holy Father concluded, "for these [people] who are giving their life now, for those who have poured out their life, and with them, let us journey together."

    • Vaticano
    • San Pietro
    • Papa Francesco
    • Amazzonia
      Jesus Jurado

      Vatican - Mons. Augusto Cesare Bertazzoni declared Venerable

      2 weeks ago
      Vatican - Mons. Augusto Cesare Bertazzoni declared Venerable

      (ANS - Vatican) - On 2 October 2019, the Holy Father Francis received Cardinal Angelo Becciu, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, in audience with His Most Reverend Eminence. During the Audience, the Supreme Pontiff authorized the same Congregation to promulgate the Decree concerning the heroic virtues of the Servant of God Augusto Cesare Bertazzoni, titular Archbishop of Temuniana, former Bishop of Potenza and Marsico; born January 10, 1876 in Polesine di Pegognaga (Italy) he died August 30, 1972 in Potenza (Italy).

      As a boy, Augusto Bertazzoni was a disciple in Turin of Saint Giovanni Bosco and was among those who, in 1887, offered their lives for the salvation of the saint of youth, who had also prophesied the episcopal miter to the young Augusto. He was a friend of Luigi Orione and of Fr Giovanni Calabria, priests, today saints. He entered the seminary of Mantua, when Mons. Giuseppe Sarto, today St. Pius X, was rector, with the great desire to become a priest. He was appointed archpriest-parish priest of San Benedetto Po, where he exercised his ministry from 30 April 1904 to 30 June 1930.

      Raised by Pius XI to the episcopal chair of Potenza and Marsico, consecrated on 15 August 1930, on 29 October he entered the Diocese. In the entrance speech he said "to bring peace, the peace of Christ in all hearts". He took care of vocations, renewed the clergy, engaged the laity in catechesis, in the Azione Cattolica association, in works of charity, culture, social solidarity. A far-sighted educator of the young, he urged the educational commitment of his priests, as well as of men and women religious, to whom he recommended having a spirit of paternity for the new generations.
      During the Second World War, when bombs destroyed the episcopate of Potenza, he decided to remain close to his flock: he did his best to help the Jews and political dissidents. After the war he was a figure of balance between the various political forces and dedicated himself to healing the wounds of the world conflict and to the arduous and generous work of rebirth and the spiritual, moral and material reconstruction of the diocese. He was Conciliar Father of the Second Vatican Council.

      Monsignor Bertazzoni, a true man of God, a man of faith and prayer, was attentive to the spiritual needs of the faithful and also of non-believers, for whom he spent himself to the end. The characteristics of his episcopate can be summarized in love for God and neighbor without distinction, in obedience to the Pope and the Church, in the paternal attitude towards priests and seminarians, in ardent pastoral zeal. He led a life of simplicity, marked by humility, poverty and a spirit of sacrifice. He was a witness of the supernatural and passionate desire to bring God back into history at every level: personal, family, social.

      • Vaticano
      • Augusto Cesare Bertazzoni
        Jesus Jurado

        Italy - Marian Day - 150th anniversary of ADMA

        2 weeks 3 days ago
        Italy - Marian Day - 150th anniversary of ADMA

        (ANS - Turin) - "Share the grace": this is the theme of the annual ADMA Marian Day which will be held on Sunday 6 October in Turin. This year it coincides with the 150th anniversary of the Association's foundation, wanted and promoted by Don Bosco on 18 April 1869.

        Sharing the grace was the inspiring idea that moved the Turin saint to found this Association the year following the consecration of the Church of Mary Help of Christians, amazed by the graces that the Christian people acknowledged to the Mother of God and eager to offer a simple itinerary of Christian life anchoring the faith of the people to the two columns of the Eucharist and of the Help of Christians.

        Sharing the grace for these 150 years of history that have seen the participation of many people and that today touches over 800 aggregated groups scattered in over 50 nations.

        Sharing the grace with the whole Salesian Family which is a Marian family called today to great challenges in the field of education and evangelization, like the last synods dedicated to the family and young people engage.

        Sharing the grace with the Rector Major, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime who with his presence will confirm the journey of renewal undertaken and deliver the Letter sent to the Salesians and to the whole Salesian Family: "Entrust, have trust and smile", as he will with the numerous ADMA groups from all over Italy and several European countries, and with the devotees of the Help of Christians to sing the Magnificat together, as stated by Renato Valera, President of the ADMA: “Every time we stop to pray and make silence, we can recognize how the grace of God has worked in our life and how day after day, even with fatigue, trials and falls, we discover a bit more of the wonderful canvas that the Lord is weaving. Being part of the Association is like saying thank you to Mary, who silently and on tiptoe has entered our house. And then it was the beginning of a new journey made of entrustment, prayer, restitution and service."

        • Italia
        • Giornata Mariana
        • 150° ADMA
          Jesus Jurado

          Belgium - Salesian participation at 2nd European Summit on Education

          2 weeks 3 days ago
          Belgium - Salesian participation at 2nd European Summit on Education

          (ANS - Brussels) - Fr Tarcizio Morais, SDB, coordinator of the School and Vocational Training office in the Salesian Youth Ministry Department, and Renato Cursi, Executive Secretary of Don Bosco International (DBI), took part in the second European Summit on Education, which took place in Brussels on Thursday 26 September. Organized by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC), the event was dedicated in particular to the profile of teachers. In fact, the title of this second edition was "Teachers first: excellence and prestige for the European educational area."

          The summit was opened by Tibor Navracsics, outgoing Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport. In fact, from November, DG EAC of the European Commission will be replaced by DG "Innovation and Youth" (this is the title chosen by the new President of the European Commission, Ursula Van Der Leyen). This new Commission will be led by Mariya Gabriel, a former Digitalization Commissioner. Some concerns have been raised among the civil society organizations in Brussels because some fear that the focus is more on digitization and less on the holistic approach to education.

          Also speaking were Senator Mario Monti, President of the Bocconi University of Milan, and Prof. Christoph Schiebold, a professor at the Montessori International School in Brussels. Sen. Monti commemorated the anniversary of Leonardo Da Vinci, a model for culture in Europe, and also mentioned the Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis' Laudato Sì as an excellent link for future European integration. Professor Schiebold stressed the importance of never giving up in the face of the challenges of life and education.

          The session then proceeded to analyze the data of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) regarding teaching and learning. In the afternoon, several workshops were held that touched on topics such as the challenges of digitalisation, classroom experiences, teacher training, inclusive education, professional excellence, foreign language teaching, Erasmus+ mobility, Europe and citizenship education.

          The Salesians of Don Bosco are present in 20 of the 27 countries of the European Union and in many other non-EU European countries, and work with and for young people in the field of education. This Summit was therefore relevant for Salesian Youth Ministry, providing information on some of the educational trends across the continent. The DBI and the Youth Ministry Department promote policies at the service of the integral and complete development of children and young people.

          • Belgio
          • DBI
          • Educazione
            Jesus Jurado

            RMG - GC28: Valdocco Salesians guide us to rediscovery of our roots and identity

            2 weeks 3 days ago
            RMG - GC28: Valdocco Salesians guide us to rediscovery of our roots and identity

            (ANS - Rome) - 135 days to go to the next General Chapter of the Salesian Congregation, which will open in Turin on 16 February 2020. The months preceding the beginning of the GC28 constitute the phase of the "Pre-Chapter", a very intense time both from an organizational and a communicative point of view. It is at this stage that the project "Interviews with the eyes of ..." is set.

            This is a series of video interviews produced by ANS in collaboration with the IMEComunicazione team, in which the Salesians of Valdocco present the Mother House, which will host the GC28. With over 100 years of history behind it, Valdocco has indeed much to tell. There are so many stories, so many anecdotes and curiosities that deserve to be known across the globe. Recovering historical memory is especially important in order to rediscover our roots and our Salesian identity. Making the places of the Mother House known, from which the great dream of Don Bosco began, is thus fundamental, especially for all those members of the Salesian Family and for young people who have no way of visiting it personally.

            Thus, some members of the Valdocco Community show the most significant places, telling their story and emphasizing, in particular, the symbolic value they possess. They do so, as mentioned, through videos entitled "Interviews with the eyes of ...". In the first video, Fr Enrico Lupano, responsible for the Visits of Valdocco, shows the Urn of Don Bosco of the Basilica Mary Help of Christians. "Here, all men and women come to seek a Father, a Teacher and a Friend," says Fr Enrico Lupano.

            In the following weeks, then, Luigi Bacchin will talk to us about the Valdocco typography, Fr Bruno Ferrero of Don Bosco's statue, Fr Maurizio Palazzo of the organ of the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, while Luigi Zonta will illustrate the façade. Finally, Marco Gallo, director of the Cnos-Fap Operational Office in Turin, will explain the activities of the Turin-Valdocco Vocational Training Center.

            All the videos will be uploaded to ANSChannel which, on the occasion of the GC28, is renewed. It will no longer be a single channel, but 8, divided by language and geographical area. ANSChannel now includes 6 different channels, one for each official language of the Congregation: Italian, English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Polish. To these, two other channels shall be added: one for Asia and one for Africa. In this way, it will be easier for users to find audiovisual materials in their respective languages.

            • CG28
            • Capitolo Generale
            • Valdocco
            • don Enrico Lupano
              Virginia Nitto

              RMG - Fr Lasarte, SDB: "There will be no priestly vocations in the Amazon if there are no serious processes of proclamation and evangelization"

              2 weeks 4 days ago

              (ANS - Rome) - Fr Martín Lasarte is a Salesian missionary in Angola and he currently works in the Missions Department of the Salesian Central Office. He was appointed part of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan Amazon region, along with 14 other Salesians of Don Bosco and two Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. Only a few days remain until the beginning of this great event (6 - 27 October). During the preparation for the Synod, various fundamental aspects arose which will be strongly considered and emphasized, but "I believe it is necessary to consider some elements of great importance", said Fr Lasarte.

              "I wish to highlight three elements that emerged in the questionnaires, debates and studies, which were not sufficiently present, in my opinion, in the media, nor in the documents and debates preparatory to the Synod," said Fr Lasarte.

              In the first place, the theme of "Amazonian youths": "We have not asked ourselves," Fr Lasarte elaborates, "Who are they? Where are they going? How do they experience the phenomenon of globalization, urbanization and interculturality? How do they prepare to enter and interact in a complex and conflictual world? It is a theme of urgent reflection."

              Secondly, the theme "Amazonian cities and migration": Since 2017, the world population is more urban than rural. The phenomenon of Amazon migration towards urban centers is a sociological observation, especially the massive migration of young people. Fr Lasarte asks, "What is the presence of the Catholic Church in the peripheries of these cities? Will we leave the people abandoned to the fragmentary proposals of the faith of the neo-Pentecostal ecclesial communities?"

              Thirdly, the theme of the "processes of faith" that generate a church with an Amazonian and ministerial face. Another observation is the difficulty that has been experienced in the last fifty years, in various parts, to generate a church with an Amazonian face. In various contexts there has been a great diaconal commitment on the part of the Church.

              Fr Lasarte concludes by treating one of the most discussed issues in the media: "future vocations to the priesthood", will they be married men? He answers directly that "there will be no vocations to religious and priestly life in the Amazon if there are no serious and profound processes of proclamation and evangelization in Christian communities, of contagious faith, of credible witnesses." On the subject, Pope Francis tells us: "In many places there is a lack of vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life. This is often due to the lack of contagious apostolic zeal in the communities, which neither enthuses nor fascinates them."

              • RMG
              • Lasarte Martin
              • Amazzonia
              • Evangelizzazione
                Jesus Jurado

                Thailand - 50 years of Diocese of Surat Thani, land of Salesian missionaries

                2 weeks 4 days ago
                Thailand - 50 years of Diocese of Surat Thani, land of Salesian missionaries

                (ANS - Surat Thani) - Mons. Joseph Prathan Sridarunsil, Salesian, bishop of Surat Thani, celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Diocese of Surat Thani at the Cathedral of the Archangel Gabriel on 28 September. Also present at the solemn celebration was Archbishop Paul Tschang In-Nam, Apostolic Nuncio in Thailand. On this occasion, moreover, there was the ordination of three new deacons.

                The Diocese spiritually prepared itself for a year, before this celebration. In fact, preparation began in September 2018. For a year, the statue of Mary Help of Christians was taken on a cart to the various churches belonging to the Diocese. The use of the cart is a reference to the early years of the Diocese when Archbishop Carretto, the first ordinary bishop of Surat Thani, inspired by a vision, brought Our Lady to all the corners of southern Thailand.

                "I would like to thank the Lord for having sent the missionaries, especially the Salesian missionaries," said Mgr. Joseph Prathan Sridarunsil. "We also thank the Stigmatine Sisters and Sisters, handmaids of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who have thrown here the seeds of the Word of God. The Lord has sent here some groups of the Salesian Family, such as the FMA and the Daughters of the Queenship of Mary Help of Christians, and many other Congregations, with which the Salesians have worked: the Franciscans, the Marist Fathers, the Redemptorists, the Sisters of St Paul de Chartres, the Daughters of Charity and the Capuchin friars. Everyone came to help to water, shovel, grow the seeds of God's Word," he added.

                Bishop Joseph Prathan Sridarunsil then urged to pray to the Holy Spirit, who inspired many lay people of good heart to join the work "in the Vineyard of the Lord".

                The Diocese of Surat Thani, in southern Thailand, was founded in 1969, when it was separated from the diocese of Ratchaburi, following the papal bull Qui Regno Christi, issued by Pope Pius VII. It is a suffragan Diocese of the Archdiocese of Bangkok. The area of ​​Surat Thani has been evangelized by the Salesians of Don Bosco since the 1930s of the last century.

                The diocese covers an area of 76,562 km², covering all the southern provinces of Thailand. In 2018 it was estimated that of its nine million inhabitants, 7,678 (0.1%) are members of the Catholic Church. The Diocese is divided into 44 parishes, grouped into four regions.

                • Thailandia
                • 50 Anniversario
                • Missioni
                  Jesus Jurado

                  East Timor - A new Archdiocese: "Let us take advantage of this initiative to unite and consolidate Catholics"

                  2 weeks 5 days ago

                  (ANS - Dili) - In 2002 a new state was born in Asia. It featured a very young population, but with high rates of inequality, rural poverty, and extremely vulnerable to climate change. Among the waters that bathe Australia and Indonesia, there is this small island divided between two states that hosts large reserves of gas and oil and that hides a complex history: East Timor, where the Salesians have been working since 1948. In the capital Dili, a Salesian is present: Msgr. Virgilio do Carmo da Silva.

                  By electing the new ecclesiastical province of Dili (capital of East Timor) on 11 September 2019, the Church consecrated the dynamism of a small country whose population is 97% Catholics, a country whose natural resources attract the attention of the nearby powers.

                  Seventeen years after gaining its independence, East Timor has become an ecclesiastical province. The Holy Father erected the Ecclesiastical Province of Dili (East Timor), elevating the diocese to the category of Metropolitan Church, having as suffragan Churches the dioceses of Baucau and Maliana, and he appointed as first metropolitan Archbishop Msgr. Virgilio do Carno da Silva, Salesian, current bishop of Dili. "Let us take advantage of this initiative to unite and consolidate the Catholics of East Timor, to grow more in the faith," declared the new archbishop.

                  A former Portuguese colony, East Timor has a total of three dioceses: Dili, Baucau and Maliana, with a population of 1.3 million, of which 97% are Catholics. Erected in September 1940 by Pius XII, the diocese of Dili depended on the diocese of Macao. After the violent annexation of East Timor to Indonesia in 1976, Pope Paul VI decided to place the diocese of Dili directly under the authority of the Holy See.

                  After independence, achieved through great efforts in 2002, relations with Muslim Indonesia, the power that occupied it, subsided. During the period of occupation that lasted from 1975 to 1999, between 100,000 and 300,000 people were murdered.

                  East Timor has become a much coveted economic partner in the region. And for a good reason; the country is sitting on a “gold mine”: the already exploited, but still largely untapped reserves of offshore natural gas and oil whetting the appetites of the Chinese and Australian powers.

                  Raising it to the rank of Ecclesiastical Province, the Holy See has thus strengthened the independence of one of the world's youngest Catholic states on the international scene.



                  • Timor Est
                  • Arcidiocesi
                  • Cattolici
                    Jesus Jurado

                    United States - Fr. John Thompson, Missionary in Africa for 40 Years, Visits New Rochelle

                    2 weeks 5 days ago
                    United States - Fr. John Thompson, Missionary in Africa for 40 Years, Visits New Rochelle

                    (ANS – New Rochelle) - Since his arrival in Liberia almost 40 years ago, Fr. John Thompson has served in five countries in West and South Africa, survived two ferocious civil wars, and grown ever more in his love for the people he serves as one of Don Bosco’s sons. Every couple of years Fr. John returns to the U.S. to visit his extensive family around the country, to speak on behalf of Salesian missionary work, and to raise some money to advance that work. He arrived at the provincial house in New Rochelle on September 11 and has been speaking freely with the confreres about his experiences in over 50 years of Salesian life. This year he’s one of the province’s jubilarians, professed on August 15, 1969, and ordained on May 26, 1979. Fr. John’s latest mission, since last November, is as pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Maseru, Lesotho, where every weekend he celebrates two Masses in the Sesotho language—which he’s just learning—and one in English. The first two draw congregations of 600 and 1,400; the last, just 40. He has been in the Southern Africa Province since May 2009 and seen service, mostly as a parish priest, in Swaziland (2009-2012) and Johannesburg (2012-2018) before his mission to Maseru. He’s had to learn two other African tongues, Zulu and Siswati, in his ministry.

                    Origins of a Missionary Vocation
                    From the time he was a novice, Fr. John desired to go to the missions, and he applied several times without being accepted. Finally, Fr. Bernard Tohill, general councilor for the missions at the time, allowed him—a student of theology in Columbus, Ohio, at that time—to spend the summer of 1978 in Guatemala, working alongside Australian missionary Fr. Tony DeGroot among the native people in the mountains. This experience confirmed then-Bro. John in his sense of being called to the foreign missions. This time his application was accepted. Fr. Edward Cappelletti, director of Salesian Missions in New Rochelle, encouraged Bro. John to visit the work of Fr. Javier de Nicoló in Colombia for street children and troubled youths before he came back to the U.S. So it was that after his ordination he and three other confreres were designated as the first Salesian team for West Africa as Project Africa was kicking off. Because of some health issues, Fr. John had to wait until March 1980 actually to go to Monrovia. He recalls that the Congregation asked the Salesians of the U.S. to sponsor the Liberian mission, but the provincial and council in New Rochelle declined, in view of other commitments at that time. That’s how Liberia became a mission of the British Province.

                    Missions in Liberia, and Civil War
                    In both Monrovia and the newly-opened mission at Tappita, Fr. John enjoyed the collaboration of men such as Fr. Larry Gilmore, the late Bro. Bill Regner, and the future martyr lay missionary Sean Devereaux. Only months after Fr. John’s arrival in Liberia, there was a coup, and a long civil war began. Eventually Fr. John and Fr. Larry had to leave Tappita and return to Monrovia. One of their greatest sorrows was seeing so many people killed, many of them out of tribal rivalries. Fr. John negotiated with the rebels, especially on behalf of prisoners and others in danger, often successfully. But he didn’t hesitate to confront wrongdoing, and sometimes this got him into hot water. He also saw people murdered before his eyes, and on several occasions his own life was at risk. On several occasions Fr. John met the rebel leader Charles Taylor, whom he describes as “a very bad man.” When Taylor was put on trial in The Hague for war crimes, Fr. John was ready to go and testify against him, but he saw that it wouldn’t be necessary because the man’s guilt was more than evident; he’s now serving a 50-year sentence in British custody. The Salesians were able to return to Tappita in the late 1990s but subsequently had to withdraw again. Only in 2018 were they able to re-open the mission.

                    Service in Sierra Leone
                    In 1998, with Liberia still at war, Fr. John was transferred to Sierra Leone, a mission sponsored by the two U.S. provinces. He spent about a year at the original mission in Lungi, then moved over to the capital, Freetown, to start a work for street children, for which he was able to draw on not only his own Salesian instincts but also what he’d observed in Fr. de Nicoló’s project in Colombia. That work became all the more important in the aftermath of Sierra Leone’s civil war, when it helped rehabilitate former child soldiers and other young victims of the war. Once more, the Salesians suffered with their people through a violent civil war (depicted in the film Blood Diamond). From his earlier experience of dealing with rebel forces in Liberia, Fr. John was able to help guide his confreres and their people through this tragedy, although they suffered material losses such as vehicles and equipment. From that mission the flourishing work of Don Bosco Fambul grew with great support from such local Salesians as Bro. Regner, Fr. Dominic DeBlase, and Fr. Al Mengon (among others). Fr. John remained in Freetown until late 2008 before his transfer to South Africa. The Salesians of Anglophone West Africa received a great deal of financial support from American Salesians, the U.S. Church, and their own families. Fr. DeBlase, as a former provincial, was also able to influence the superiors in Rome to direct some considerable funds raised by Salesian Missions of New Rochelle to Sierra Leone for several years because of that country’s dire poverty.

                    Early Years
                    Fr. John was born 69 years ago in the Panama Canal Zone, where his father worked for the U.S. Government on the canal. His mother often brought him into Panama City to visit the church of St. John Bosco, Panama’s patron saint, and so young John developed a love for Don Bosco. Two of his brothers went to New York to become Salesian aspirants, and John aspired to follow. Since grade school he’d nurtured a desire to become a priest. Mr. Thompson was reluctant to let another son venture toward priesthood and religious life. (In fact neither Robert nor George persevered in Salesian life.) Finances were also a factor. But the Knights of Columbus intervened very generously, and thus in 1965 John undertook a long solo journey—by train across the isthmus of Panama, ship to New Orleans, and bus to New York (before there were many interstate highways) to enter Salesian Junior Seminary in Goshen, N.Y., as a sophomore. He spent three happy years there before going on to the novitiate in 1968 and making his first profession in 1969.  After graduation from Don Bosco College in 1973, he did practical training at Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J., and then studied theology at the Josephinum in Columbus from 1975 to 1979.

                    What Were the Greatest Challenges as a Missionary?
                    The first challenge that Fr. John mentioned was health. Malaria was a constant in West Africa. Far more serious, however, were the civil wars, the pain of seeing people killed out of tribal hatred. All the trials of war remind Fr. John of St. Paul’s missionary tribulations—imprisonments, beatings, shipwreck, etc. It also pained him that neither Liberia nor Sierra Leone allows white foreigners to become citizens.

                    What Were the Greatest Satisfactions?
                    There was great satisfaction in saving lives during the wars. It’s a matter of pride that the Salesians stayed at their missions throughout. Serving God through the poor and offering his life for them is a precious vocation. Fr. John can’t foresee ever returning to the U.S. to retire but wants to remain on mission until death like our American confreres Fr. Jack Trisolini in Korea, Fr. Harry Peterson in Chile, and Bro. Regner in Sierra Leone.


                    By Fr. Mike Mendl, SDB

                    • Stati Uniti
                    • John Thompson
                    • Africa
                    • Missioni
                      Jesus Jurado

                      Italy – Rector Major's Message for Haiti Salesians: "Try to find in these difficult moments the strength of interiority, faith and communion among you"

                      2 weeks 5 days ago

                      (ANS - Turin) - The Rector Major of the Salesians of Don Bosco, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, came to know about the difficult socio-political situation in Haiti and sent a message of solidarity and encouragement to the country's Salesians. "My dear confreres, my dear friends, good morning ... I am with Jean-Paul Mésidor, Superior of the Vice Province of Haiti. We are here in Valdocco. I want to greet you, my dear brothers, I know that at the moment you are living in a very difficult situation: political instability, insecurity, poverty ... I pray for you. Try to find in these difficult moments the strength of interiority, the strength of faith and communion among you. Things that could stimulate you to move forward. Don Bosco also experienced difficult moments like you."

                      In Haiti, most of the activities have been paralyzed since September 16th. For the most part, public transport, commercial activities and schools in Port-au-Prince and in provincial cities are not functioning. Barricades of burning tires are erected at various points throughout.

                      In La Saline, a heavily populated shantytown north of Port-au-Prince, where the first Salesian house is located, the situation is extremely dramatic. Armed gangs face each other all day, every day. The Salesians live in a situation of stress and fear because they are at the center of these clashes.

                      Since 1936, the presence of the Salesians in La Saline is noteworthy with three major centers: ENAM, National School of Arts and Crafts; OPEPB, “Opera Little Schools of Father Bonen”; Foyer Lakay, a home for children and young people in difficulty. Every day about 4000 children and young people are welcomed.

                      • Italia
                      • Rettor Maggiore
                      • Messaggio
                      • Salesiani
                        Jesus Jurado

                        Spain - Statue of Mary Help of Christians of Pamplona Salesians transferred to new home

                        2 weeks 5 days ago
                        Spain - Statue of Mary Help of Christians of Pamplona Salesians transferred to new home

                        (ANS - Pamplona) - The statue, three meters high and weighing four tons, was moved from the top of the 12-meter-high tower of the Salesian house in Pamplona to be taken to the new center of Sarriguren in the Egües Valley, in Navarre. In the first week of September, about 930 students inaugurated this new educational center and the image of Mary Help of Christians, who had been in the old center of Pamplona for 60 years, could not but be present. This statue will now in fact be transferred to the new Salesian educational center.

                        Yesterday, 30 September, after a few hours of work, in the middle of the afternoon, a crane removed the statue of Mary Help of Christians from the top of the tower of the Salesian church on Calle Aralar in Pamplona, and is now waiting to be moved to the garden of the new school built in Sarriguren.

                        The statue, more than three meters high, was carved in stone by Aureo Rebolé Egüaras, originally from Aibar (Navarra), who was called the "imaginero" of the 20th century in his native land. Rebolé (1936-1994) was an expert in sculpting stone.

                        Perhaps the sculptor's personality is still present in the statue. Sixty years after its creation, during which Mary Help of Christians watched over the roofs of the city, the expression of Mary and the Child have remained intact.

                        The image was blessed and enthroned on 31 May 1959 in an act presided over by the archbishop and the patrons of the sculpture, Modesto Liquiniano, then mayor of Narvarte, and his wife Elena Arrechea.

                        When the image of the Virgin was taken down the street of Via Aralar, some members of the Salesian Family, together with the Salesians and some citizens, took the opportunity to take photographs with the statue.

                        Throughout the day the workers were accompanied by several members of the Salesian Family and by Past Pupils who came to share their memories, but also by curious people who appeared on their balconies. "I followed how they dismantled the statue," said the president of the Red Cross of Pamplona. "I feel very sad because it was the image I saw every morning from my window."

                        At the end of the day, the workers took the statue to restore it. One of the bells was also pulled down,and this year it shall ring in the new bell tower of the Church of Mary Help of Christians in Sarriguren.

                        • Spagna
                        • Salesiani
                        • Pamplona
                        • Maria Ausiliatrice
                          Jesus Jurado

                          Slovenia - Solemn conclusion of Diocesan Inquiry for Cause of Beatification of Servant of God Andrej Majcen

                          2 weeks 6 days ago
                          Slovenia - Solemn conclusion of Diocesan Inquiry for Cause of Beatification of Servant of God Andrej Majcen

                          (ANS - Ljubljana Rakovnik) - "We conclude the diocesan process for the Beatification and Canonization of the Servant of God Fr Andrej Majcen", with these words Msgr. Stanislav Zore, archbishop of Ljubljana, closed the diocesan inquiry into the cause of beatification and canonization of the Servant of God Andrea Majcen in the parish hall of Ljubljana Rakovnik on Friday 27 September. Then he urged: "Do not give peace to God! Go to Him through the intercession of Father Majcen, ask and seek God's help!"

                          Many were the guests and participants in the concluding session: the members of the diocesan tribunal and the historical commission; confreres from Vietnam with the bishop mons. Peter Nguyen Van De and the provincial vicar John Nguyen Van Am; the Postulator General, Fr Pierluigi Cameroni, the collaborator Dr Lodovica Zanet; the vice-postulator Fr Alojzij Snoj; Slovenian Salesians with the Provincial Fr Marko Košnik; the FMA sisters with the Provincial Sr. Mojca Šimenc and members of the Salesian Family; benefactors and faithful of Rakovnik.

                          In Rakovnik on Sunday 29 September there was a meeting of the Salesian Family to deepen the testimony of the Servant of God: Fr Cameroni presented Fr Majcen through four significant dates of his life: birth, baptism, priestly ordination and delivery of the missionary crucifix. Dr. Zanet presented various aspects of the numerous writings of Fr Majcen: the spiritual diaries, where one sees the attentive care for one's spiritual life, and the writings of the memories requested by the superiors. Sister Brigita Zelič, FMA, brought her personal testimony of the meeting with Fr Majcen and of the benefit received thanks to his intercession.

                          In the afternoon the solemn Eucharist was held in the shrine of Mary Help of Christians on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the death of Servant of God Fr Andrej Majcen, with the public conclusion of the diocesan inquiry chaired by the Archbishop of Ljubljana Msgr. Stanislav Zore, with the presence of numerous priests. The liturgical celebration with the many ministers and the choir composed by the members of the parishes of Rakovnik and Kodeljevo was highly choreographed and evocative.

                          In the homily, the Archbishop underlined the relationship of Fr Majcen with Mary Help of Christians. As a young man he exclaimed: "Mary Help of Christians, pray for us!"; and at the end of his life he thanked her: "Mary Help of Christians, thank you for everything!" She also recalled the thought of Fr Majcen: "I ask the Good Shepherd to be a good sacristan of the hearts of my Salesian confreres". The Archbishop wished that today's Salesians let themselves be guided by the witness of Fr Majcen and to be, like him, signs of the paternity of God with a heart full of compassion and mercy.

                          The substantial documentation consisting of 8,000 pages of documents in the Slovenian language and as many in the Italian translation will be forwarded to Rome at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.


                          • Slovenia
                          • Servo di Dio
                          • Andrej Majcen
                            Jesus Jurado

                            India - Proposals of "Don Bosco Tech" former students to create better future

                            2 weeks 6 days ago

                            (ANS - Bangalore) - On September 22, "Don Bosco Tech" organized a meeting entitled "Oratory", which took place at the "Don Bosco Skill Mission" of Bangalore. Addressed to former students, the 340 participants gathered, living moments of friendship and sharing, but above all reflected on the meeting's theme: the Oratory, discussed, understood, as in Don Bosco's vision, as a place for learning, play, education, recreation and meeting place.

                            To welcome the guests was Fr George Mathew, Salesian, executive director of "Don Bosco Tech". "The purpose of the Salesian Congregation is to answer to the educational and livelihood needs of young people," said Fr George.  "This meeting is a way to listen to you, to know how your experience at Don Bosco Tech has formed you and made you enter the world of work. Based on the valuable suggestions you will give us, we will make changes to the training courses in order to make them more relevant and more useful for creating a better future," he added.

                            The main interventions included talks by Anil Rego and the round table held by Kannan Parumal, and talks by Daniel Thomas, Prema Kumari. Anil Rego, founder and executive director of "Right Horizons", talked about the future of vocational education and training in India, while the round table, entitled "Youth and willingness to work", discussed the behavior and attitude to hold in the work context. "Your attitude at work," Ms Prema explained, "must be positive and you must never neglect the passion for what you are doing," she concluded.

                            Also in the context of the round table, the importance of investing in new technologies was highlighted. In fact, Daniel Thomas pointed out that: “65% of children who start school today will have a job that does not exist today. Technology plays a vital role in this regard. Everyone should therefore acquire and improve their technology-related skills."

                            It was then the turn of suggestions and proposals. The former students of the "Don Bosco Tech" put forward many praiseworthy ideas, including strengthening the bond with the Alma Mater to facilitate placement in the world of work.

                            "Don Bosco Tech Society" is a network that incorporates over 440 vocational training centers, distributed throughout the country, which offer qualified training especially for young people who are economically and socially disadvantaged.

                            • India
                            • Don Bosco Tech Africa
                            • ex studenti
                              Jesus Jurado

                              Vatican - "Life creates history": 54th World Communications Day

                              2 weeks 6 days ago

                              (ANS - Vatican City) - With this beautiful title, Pope Francis presented, on September 28th, the 54th World Day of Social Communications, which will be celebrated in 2020. "“So that you can tell your son and grandson”. (Ex 10,2) Life creates history." Choosing this theme, the Pope underlines how precious the heritage of "memory" in communication and the ability to tell beautiful stories to future generations is. There is no doubt that "educating with stories helps us to face different situations in a complex, changing and puzzling world," wrote D. Chomskim.

                              The Pope has emphasized on many occasions that there is no future without being rooted in lived history. He has helped us understand that memory should not be considered as a "static body", but rather as a "dynamic reality". Through memory we pass on stories, hopes, dreams and experiences of one generation to another. He also reminds us that every story is born out of life and from the encounter with others.

                              Jesus used parables to communicate the vital power of the Kingdom of God, leaving listeners free to listen to these stories and relate them to themselves. The story's power is expressed in its ability to indeed generate change. An exemplary story possesses a great power of transformation.

                              In the current context, wherein there are innumerable interactions via social networks, one talks about information obtained through stories. Says C. Cox that "the format of the stories is about to become the main way for users to share information."

                              Reading the title of the World Communications Day, the question arises: "What will we have to say to future generations?" In these years, Pope Francis has offered us five stories:

                              - "That every human being, man, woman, boy, girl is the image of God": we are the image of God.
                              - "That living together is an art, a patient, beautiful and fascinating journey": we were born to live in community and in communion.
                              - "That everyone has his idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight against evil. This would be enough to make the world a better place": that our actions benefit others.
                              - "That nature is not a property that we can abuse at will, let alone the property of a few, but a gift of all, which we must cherish and protect": that our world is our home.
                              - "Paradise is one of the last words spoken by Jesus on the Cross, addressed to the good thief": that our place is paradise.

                              Once again, the Pope places the person at the center of his reflection, with the person's relationships and innate capacity for communication.

                              • Vaticano
                              • Giornata Mondiale Comunicazione Sociale
                              • Vita
                              • Storia
                                Jesus Jurado

                                Italy - Celebration of 150th Missionary Expedition

                                3 weeks ago
                                Italy - Celebration of 150th Missionary Expedition

                                (ANS - Turin) - Yesterday, 29 September, the Rector Major of the Salesians, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, presided at the Eucharistic celebration of the 150th Missionary Expedition during which he consigned the missionary cross to 36 Salesians and 13 Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in the presence of his Vicar, Fr Francesco Cereda, of the General Councilor for the Missions, Fr Guillermo Basañes, the Mother General of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Mother Yvonne Reungoat, and Sr. Alaíde Deretti, Councilor for the Missions.

                                In front of the statue of Don Bosco in the courtyard of the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, the Rector Major, together with the 36 new SDB missionaries of the 150th Expedition, began to prepare the ground to launch the 2019 missionary appeal, which he will do, as every year, for the feast of the Immaculate, December 8th. Surrounded by the Salesian missionaries of the 150th Expedition, the Rector Major wished to make the appeal to all the Salesians in the world from this very courtyard that saw the beginnings of our family and the consolidation of the Salesian charism.

                                Taking place immediately preceding this moment, in the theater of the Oratory of Valdocco, was the very youthful and media-savvy presentation of the 12 new FMA missionaries, by Sr. Alaíde Deretti, Councilor for the Missions, and of the 36 new SDB missionaries, by Fr Guillermo Basañes, General Councilor for the Missions, in three groups of "12 apostles". The recorded interviews of several missionaries are lively and definitely worth seeing. The event was broadcast live by Rete 7 and on various Facebook channels.

                                In the Eucharistic celebration, during the homily, the Rector Major emphasized the fact that today is a day of great celebration for the Congregation, the Institute and for the Church, in what is this 150th Missionary Expedition, 144 years after the first expedition of 1875, without interruption, even during the two terrible world wars.

                                Fr Á.F. Artime highlighted an interesting point. In the office of the Councilor for the Missions, there is the Book of Missionaries, which records 9,542 Salesian missionaries sent by the Rectors Major from this Basilica in the 150 Expeditions ... It seems that the real total number of those sent is more than 10,400. Our Congregations are recognized for the education and evangelization of the young, and with these numbers, we can safely say we are indeed and truly a missionary Institute and Congregation. The fire of love for Jesus has not allowed us to remain closed within four walls; on the contrary.

                                The most important point is precisely that Jesus is at the center of our lives: God calls us and sends us ... to share life, to give ... To witness Jesus with life, with the example of charity, with great respect for the diversity of each and every one...

                                The Salesian response to the extraordinary missionary month - October 2019, launched by Pope Francis - is this missionary sending, to enrich the presence of Jesus in all continents, except Australia this time.

                                The Rector Major, during the homily, then presented three examples of particular witnesses, since the world wants witnesses and not teachers / professors.

                                Monsignor Marcello Melani: Italian of origin, missionary for many years in Argentina. Once he finished his service as bishop in Patagonia (diocese of Neuquén), he returned to the province to which he belonged and served as parish priest and catechist. He felt ready to answer to the call of the Pope and the Rector Major, and his availability was accepted. He will go to Peru.

                                Fr Bashir Souccar: Syrian, 71 years old, expert in running the oratory with Muslims. From the MOR Province he made himself available and will go to Tunisia ... to bring the joy of the oratory, especially among young Muslims.

                                Fr Germain Plakoo-Mlapa: Togolese, he was present at the martyrdom of both Fr César Antonio Fernández (February 2019) and of Fr Fernando Hernández (May 2019), which took place in Burkina Faso; he was next to both and does not know why he was not killed too. Now he is here, recovering, and his heart is full of serenity and peace because he knew how to forgive and continues to live with the heart full of Jesus and his love.

                                Here is the testimony of life beyond words.

                                by Fr Gianni Rolandi, sdb


                                • Italia
                                • Spedizione Missionaria Salesiana
                                • 150 Spedizione Missionaria Salesiana
                                  Jesus Jurado

                                  Ukraine - "AutoBosco", a new specialization to train young people

                                  3 weeks ago

                                  (ANS - Lviv) - The Salesian Vocational Training Center in Lviv is the only Catholic institution in Ukraine that offers the possibility of developing in children that "intelligence in the hands" of which they are carriers.

                                  On September 26th a new vocational training course - car mechanic - was inaugurated at the center. With the help of many benefactors, the Salesians were able to build and set up workshops for which there are no competitors throughout the region. A first group of students is already in the front row to learn the trade with the unique possibility of having modern equipment available for practice.

                                  The inauguration of the car repair department with the blessing of the first students and the rooms was presided over by Lviv's Metropolitan Archbishop Igor Voznyak. He expressed his encouragement to the young people for the possibility of studying "in a healthy environment" and his thanks to the Salesians who "are so brave and unique not to be afraid to take risks where education and a contribution to the future are concerned."

                                  "Our commitment to the vocational school in Lviv begins in 2001. In all these years we have noticed an increase in interest in vocational training by young people. For this reason the Salesians have always tried to propose current courses in order to help children in their human, Christian and professional formation," said the director of the Center, Fr Andriy Bodnar.

                                  The Don Bosco Vocational Center in Lviv offers these vocational training programs: carpentry, tailoring, gastronomy / waiter, wellness operator and now car repair.

                                  There are not many Catholic educational institutions in Ukraine; only in 1991, with the fall of the USSR and the country's proclamation of independence, was the church able to start its pastoral action on a regular basis. The secular state does not support Catholic educational institutions that are private institutions and must be maintained by those who are their founders or owners.

                                  • Ucraina
                                  • AutoBosco
                                  • Giovani
                                    Jesus Jurado

                                    Italy - 1st International Meeting of Salesian Agricultural Schools

                                    3 weeks ago
                                    Italy - 1st International Meeting of Salesian Agricultural Schools

                                    (ANS - Lombriasco) - The first edition of "Expo Lombriasco 2019 - AgriCultura International Fair", a fair featuring the world's Salesian agricultural schools is born in the land of Don Bosco with the force of enthusiasm. An event conceived and organized by the Salesian Agricultural School of Lombriasco (TO) and the Plaza Argentina Association, with the technical and logistic support of the BCC (Banca di Credito Cooperativo of Casalgrasso and Sant'Albano Stura) of the Pro Loco and of the municipality of Lombriasco.

                                    A unique event, scheduled from 3 to 6 October 2019 at the Institute, its theme “Youth agriculture between present and future” which will allow students of the Salesian Agricultural Schools from all over the world to meet to get to know each other and discuss a variety of topics to generate an international network of young farmers who, in the spirit of Don Bosco, can contribute to a sustainable future of agriculture, respecting the nature of the land and peoples, as the Holy Father himself wished to indicate in the encyclical letter "Laudato Si". "Nothing in this world should be indifferent to us" (Pope Bergoglio).

                                    The schools in the first edition of Expo Lombriasco 2019 shall represent a significant overview of the reach of the Salesian message and work in and across the globe. The Salesian agricultural schools of Argentina, Ghana, France, Ireland and Italy will be present at the event as will other Italian and Piedmontese schools (including non-Salesians).

                                    The event's objective will be to develop, with the whole network of Salesian schools, cultural, educational and social exchanges, technical-scientific collaborations and business opportunities dedicated to products and services. The central topic of the fair will be "innovation and sustainability in agriculture"; the participating schools will present projects on this topic that will be evaluated and awarded by a Commission of experts.

                                    The event takes place also thanks to the fundamental support of local companies and institutions and, in particular, to the support of the many entrepreneurs of the Salesian School of Lombriasco who enthusiastically joined the project. Don Bosco is the most well-known and loved social saint in the world for the values transmitted to young people such as honesty, reliability and work. With faith, determination and goodwill, he supported and spread these values on all continents with the power of trust towards others that we now too desire and wish, in our own small way, to continue to nurture, bringing together in a feast of good and healthy energy the future protagonists of agriculture.

                                    • Italia
                                    • Scuole
                                    • Agrarie Salesiane
                                    • Incontro
                                      Jesus Jurado

                                      Spain - "The Salesians reaffirm their commitment to hospitality": World Day of Migrants and Refugees

                                      3 weeks 3 days ago

                                      (ANS - Madrid) - "It is not just about migrants" is the motto of the 2019 World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which the Church celebrates this Sunday, September 29th. The goal of this day is to raise awareness of the reception of migrants and refugees who "are not a danger, but a help that enriches us", as the bishops of the Episcopal Commission on Migration recall in their message of the day. There is also an appeal to eradicate and prevent situations of vulnerability or disregard for human rights.

                                      Faced with this current issue, the State Coordination of Salesian Social Platforms and its entities work to accompany the processes of reception and integration of migrants and applicants for international protection in Spain. They mainly accompany children, adolescents and young people, many of them unaccompanied, but they also develop programs to assist their families and particularly vulnerable adults. Currently, the Salesian social platforms serve more than 30,000 migrants and about 500 applicants for international protection or refugees.

                                      Particularly noteworthy is the vast reception program for young people aged 18 to 26, applicants for international protection and refugees; during 2018, there were 38 young people from Guinea Conakry, Afghanistan, Syria and Palestine.

                                      In addition to the work of the Salesian social platforms, the Salesians in Spain have opened the doors of their communities to accommodate migrants in need of housing, food and studies. There are Salesian centers in which some rooms have been set up to welcome them.

                                      What remains for the young are the grateful memories of the Salesians: "As one of the young people who went through the project said: 'Thanks to Don Bosco, we have a house where we can sleep and eat.' Otherwise, we know where we would be," adds a Salesian.

                                      With this day, the State Coordination of Salesian Social Platforms wants to join the defense of the fulfillment of Human Rights and respond to the challenge posed by contemporary migrations, welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating as suggested by Pope Francis.

                                      From the Salesian Social Platforms they encourage the whole society, as they did with the campaign "Your voice is also a refuge", to take a step forward for these people, giving their voice to fight false news and lies and to build a better society, more fraternal, more just and supportive, where the dignity of all people is recognized and acknowledged.


                                      • Spagna
                                      • Migranti
                                      • Rifugiati
                                      • Accoglienza minori
                                        Jesus Jurado

                                        Guatemala - Families benefit from new homes "My way of living faith is to promote charity and a faith based on solidarity"

                                        3 weeks 3 days ago

                                        (ANS - San Benito Petén) - Psalm 9 expresses the conviction of many people: "the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever", and presents itself with an incredible timeliness. The psalmist describes in a real way the lives of millions of people living in this world. According to UN-Habitat, the UN agency for human settlements, nearly a billion people live in slums and in inadequate housing. Pope Francis observes that many poor people wander from one part of the city to the other, hoping to find a job, a house, and that every possibility offered to them becomes a ray of light. That light has come to the Parish of San Benito Petén, thanks to the construction of 22 houses for the poor.

                                        In 2001, Fr Fernando Echeverri founded "Fundepaz NYC", a non-profit organization, to promote social and pastoral projects. "Father Echeverri came to San Benito Petén," explains Fr Giampiero De Nardi, economer of the Salesian house, "to get to know us and ask if we could follow the realization of a housing project." In fact, this project started in 2018 with the construction of two houses for very poor families.

                                        During the months that passed, Echeverri and the FUNDEPAZ institution of New York continued the development of the housing project for 22 low-income families living in Petén. "I am a bridge of solidarity in the United States to promote development and peace and in any part of the world, so I am always ready to help. My way of living faith is to promote charity and a faith based on solidarity because this is the the only way to give dynamism and a true meaning to our religiosity," declared Fr Echeverri.

                                        This year, on Friday 20 September, during the Eucharistic celebration, the houses were officially handed over to the beneficiaries. Roger Gómez, a journalist who helped bring this initiative to fruition, could not but be there. The selected families had undergone a socio-economic study to obtain the houses. The construction and furnishing of the houses were sponsored by several parishes in New York and Atlanta who collaborated through the "FUNDEPAZ" organization.

                                        Many of the families who offered help came to Petén to learn about and share this project with the people who benefited from it. The new houses were visited and the house keys handed over.

                                        • Guatemala
                                        • Famiglia
                                        • Carità
                                        • Solidarietà
                                          Jesus Jurado
                                          11 minutes 19 seconds ago
                                          ANS - Agenzia Info Salesiana. Periodico plurisettimanale telematico, organo di comunicazione della Congregazione Salesiana
                                          News - Salesians of Don Bosco