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3/3/2008 - RMG - GC26: Gathering for a truly communitarian Pentecost
(ANS – Roma) – The solemn opening of the twenty-sixth General Chapter of the Salesians began this morning at the Salesianum in Rome with a deeply felt invocation of the Holy Spirit.

As well as the 232 Salesian Chapter members there were present in the assembly hall Cardinal Franc Rodé, Prefect of the Congregation for Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Cardinal Raffaele Farina, Librarian and Archivist if the Holy Roman Church, Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop of Hong Kong, and Cardinal Miguel Obando Bravo, archbishop emeritus of Mangua. Many bishops, Salesian and non-Salesian, were also present.

“We have the same DNA as our father Don Bosco,” said the Rector Major, Don Pascual 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 GC26 opens onto something new and without precedent. The need to return to the origins is urging us on. 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.” ... “It is important, dear Chapter members, that each one of us enters deeply into harmony with God who is calling us “today” so that the inspiration and the strength of His Spirit are not grieved in our hearts, silenced on our lips, deformed in our thinking (cf. Eph 4, 30). All of this means that the effort we are called upon to make is to open as wide as possible our “spiritual” receptivity, to discover deep within ourselves the will of God for the Congregation and always to conform our thoughts and our words to the Word of God.”

Don Chávez pointed out the attitudes which should guide the work of the Chapter members: “cultivating the prophetic spirit”, “exercising discernment”, “walking with the God of History” and “building on the rock, which is Christ”.

The Rector Major explained the theme of the Chapter: “The aim of the GC26 is that of touching the heart of the Salesian, so that every confrere  is ‘a new Don Bosco’, his interpreter today!” Identity and Mission are the two elements which make up the Church and the Congregation. “her identity, that consists in being disciples of Jesus Christ, and her mission, which is concerned with working for the salvation of mankind, in our case of the young.”

Don Chávez continued by uniting the event of the Chapter to the renewal of Consecrated Life today. This requires three factors to be considered together: “1) a continuous return to the sources of all Christian life; 2) a continuous return to the original inspiration behind a given community; 3) an adjustment of the community to the changed conditions of the times.”

For the Rector Major, the Congregation needs a conversion, taking account of what Don Bosco managed to achieve: an identity expressed in “splendid blending of nature and grace”, made real in “a closely-knit life project: the service of the young”, and a sense of unity characterised by attention to souls.

The Rector Major ended by thanking the General Councillors who had shared with him the task of governing and animating the Salesian Congregation during the six year period, 2002-2008. “It is time once again to let the Chapter Assembly, which represents the highest expression of authority in the life of the Congregation, speak. To all of you then, dear Confreres the floor, but also an invitation to open your hearts to the Spirit, the great Master of the interior life that He may guide us towards the truth and the fullness of life.”

After the Rector Major’s address, Don Francesco Cereda read a message from Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, “I fervently invoke the assistance of the Holy Spirit and the fullness of his gifts during the work of the Chapter, so that it may be a time of grace and that the Lord himself may be in your midst, to guide the Congregation towards the objective of ‘Da mihi animas cetera tolle’ with the same passion as Don Bosco.

Published 3/3/2008


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