Salesian General Chapter Focuses on Charism

Rector Major Hopes Every Confrere Becomes "New Don Bosco"

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ROME, MARCH 3, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Salesians today share the same "genes" and "DNA" as their founder, St. John Bosco, shown by a passion for the salvation of youth and high standards in education, says the congregation's rector major.

Father Pascual Chávez affirmed this today at the opening of the Salesian's 26th general chapter in Rome. The meeting, which gathered 232 Salesians, is set to end April 12.

Father Chávez chose the theme "Da mihi animas, cetera tolle" (Give me souls, take away all else), a motto that Don Bosco (1815-1888) used for his pastoral work and later for the congregation.

The Salesians will discuss the theme divided into in four parts: Evangelization in education; the proposal of Salesian consecrated life; evangelical poverty as a sign of total self-gift; and new frontiers for the Salesian mission where youth are found today.

"We have the same DNA as our father Don Bosco," said Father Chávez, in his opening address, "whose genes are the passion for the salvation of the young, confidence in the value of a high standard of education, the capacity to involve many people to the extent of creating a vast movement of people capable of sharing, by the mission to youth, the mysticism of 'da mihi animas' and the ascesis of 'cetera tolle.'"

"The need to return to the origins is urging us on," he added. "We are being called to find inspiration in the apostolic passion of Don Bosco himself. We are being invited to draw on the living streams of the charism, and at the same time to open ourselves with daring and creativity to new ways of expressing it nowadays."

The rector major explained that the aim of the general chapter is touching the heart of the Salesians, so that "every confrere is ‘a new Don Bosco,' his interpreter today!"

After the rector major's address, a message from Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Benedict XVI's secretary of state, was read.

"I fervently invoke the assistance of the Holy Spirit and the fullness of his gifts during the work of the chapter," Cardinal Bertone wrote, "so that it may be a time of grace and that the Lord himself may be in your midst, to guide the congregation toward the objective of ‘Da mihi animas, cetera tolle' with the same passion as Don Bosco."