16 August 2014

"Why Bi-Centenary"?, rather, "Why not Bi-Centenary"?

WHY BI-CENTENARY ? Rather, Why not?
“Why BiCentenary”? Well, the birth of Don Bosco on 16th August 1815, is indeed, an historical event deserving of a worthy celebration to gratefully acknowledge and commemorate a humble country Priest whose life and ministry as a Pastor and Educator, made a tremendous impact not only on the lives of marginalized youth and poor people of his time, two centuries ago, but continued to inspire and benefit  young people and inspire Youth Workers and Educators over the years and across countries, leading to this moment in history, the Bi-centenary Year, 2015.
In the field of Education and Spirituality, Don Bosco, very much present in the Salesian Family he established and the Religious Congregations he founded, remains very relevant today both, as Pastor and Educator. His spiritual message, “God’s will is your holiness” and his educative method based on “Reason, Religion and Loving-kindness” appeal to the young and the old. This legacy of Youth Ministry must live on.     Hence, no question about “Why Bicentenary”?
Rather than “Why Bi-Centenary” perhaps the question to be asked is “How Bi-Centenary ?”     In fact, the Salesian Family, over the last three years began a spiritual preparation with the “pilgrim Don Bosco” visiting the Salesian world and arousing a greater commitment to the Salesian Charism. Careful to sidestep vain and expensive triumphalism, the emphasis, as clearly indicated by the GC27 (27th General Chapter) has been “to return to Don Bosco” by reclaiming the Salesian Identity: to be “Mystics in the Spirit,Prophets of fraternity and Servants of the youth”.
“Returning to Don Bosco” as a theme of the Bi-centenary obviously suggests that the tone of the celebrations must be less about building monuments’ staging performances and multiplying activities but more about the ‘rebirth’ of Don Bosco’s Spirituality in every individual Salesian.   
The reason for the emphasis on the spiritual tone of the celebrations is clear. Although, over the past two hundred years, on the one hand there has certainly been a positive growth in the Salesian Mission: for example:
·         A fundamental option for the poor & the marginalized youth in particular;
·        A Return to Evangelization and the Missions     (Africa, East Europe, China-Hongkong; Europe);
Opennings into the Islamic world(Gulf,Mid-East);
·        A Professional approach to youth ministry, opening institutes of higher learning and reaching out more to adolescent youth.

On the other  hand, in recent years there has been a growing concern about:
* A superficial Spiritual life lacking depth; 
* A secularization of religious values and the Vows;                 * A focus on Social activism and worldly success; i
* A neglect of community life and family spirit;
* A lesser interest in prayer and priestly ministry;
* A weak assimilation of Salesianity;
And consequently, an increasing vocational frailty, fragility and infidelity.

In the context of such concerns, the Bi-centenary celebrations need to be more realistically focussed on reclaiming our Salesian Spirituality and restoring it to its prime place in the life of Don Bosco, the Union with God. There could not be a more practical resolve to celebrate the Bi-centenry of the birth of Don Bosco  than the determination to redefine the Identity of Salesian Family and every individual Salesiaan as the Union with God.

“Why Bi-centenary”? The answer is clearly written in the “How Bi-centenary” programme of celebrations and the message is “Be Holy, as I am Holy”.