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Thursday, December 8, 2016
Salesians begin 150th anniversary celebrations
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 Members of the Society of Saint Francis de Sales, known as the Salesians, began their 150th anniversary celebrations of foundation, on the liturgical feast of their Founder, Saint John Bosco, on January 31, with a Mass presided by Salesian Rector Major Fr Pascual Chávez Villanueva, in the Basilica of Our Lady Help of Christians in Valdocco, Turin (Italy).

In a letter addressed to all the Salesians of the world, the Rector Major defined 2009 as a "year of grace" that should help Salesians to remember their roots and the goals to which they are called, becoming aware of their identity as consecrated persons, with an ever greater awareness of the task entrusted to them as "evangelizers of the youth and animators of a charismatic family."

Officially begun on December 18, 1859 in Turin, the Salesian Congregation says the agency ANS - the Salesian Congregation today is present in 129 countries with 16.092 Salesians (10.669 priests, 2.025 brothers, 2.765 clerical students, 515 novices, 118 bishops of whom 5 are cardinals). The 150th anniversary recalls what occurred on December 18, 1859 in Don Bosco's room at the Oratory of Saint Francis of Sales in Valdocco, Turin, where 18 young men, as recorded in the historical minutes, decided 'to form a Society or Congregation with the aim of promoting the glory of God and the salvation of souls, especially of those most in need of instruction and education.'

The jubilee year will be marked by other special dates and events: 25 May: celebration of the feast of Mary Help of Christians; 24 June, the name-day of Don Bosco, Feast of the Rector Major; 16 August, Don Bosco's birthday; 18 December: all the Salesians in the world will be invited to renew their religious profession.

An outstanding event will be the pilgrimage of the casket containing relics of Don Bosco which will visit the various countries where the Salesians are present. The long journey will begin in July this year beginning in Chile and will come to an end in 2015, the year in which the bicentenary of the birth of Don Bosco occurs.

On the same date, January 31, 2009, the Rector Major presented the "Project for Europe" to the Salesians: Europe is, for the sons of Don Bosco, one of the frontiers on which they must "relaunch the Salesian charism." Quoting the Pope's appeal, in his message for the opening of the General Chapter 26, the Rector Major makes an appeal to the Salesians: "This then is the time for missionary generosity; I therefore appeal to all of you, dear confreres, also those who are in initial formation, to respond with eagerness and enthusiasm to the needs of evangelization, following the example of the great apostle and missionary Saint Paul, the two thousandth anniversary of whose birth the whole Church is remembering this year."

As is traditional, this year too on the Feast of Don Bosco the Rector Major has given a message to the young people of the Salesian Youth Movement, inviting them to think about the event of the founding of the Salesian Congregation, when a group of young men decided to stay with Don Bosco, in this way beginning "a story far greater than him, far greater than those poor but generous young men,", "a story that has reached even us because that seed has become a great tree: the Salesian Family." The Rector Major suggests to the young people the attitudes and the practical commitments to ensure that the Salesian Youth Movement becomes stronger and positive sign in the world of youth.
Source: Fides
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