The much-awaited Strenna Presentation of the Rector Major with it’s premiere screening took place at the Generalate of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Rome, on Wednesday, 27 December at 5 pm. Hundreds of Salesian Sisters, Salesians, Members of the Salesian Family and young people were present to participate and treasure this important annual appointment close to the heart of everyone.
The Strenna 2024, the last one for the Rector Major, Cardinal Ángel Fernández Artime as he would lay down his office coming summer, came with a prophetic theme and invitation: “The dream that makes you dream”. A heart that transforms “wolves” into “lambs”, was well received with much enthusiasm and excitement, with thousands of participants participating in it from different parts of the world.
The evening began with the words of introduction by Sr Leslye Sándigo, the General Councillor for the Salesian Family, and with a prayer song titled, “Io ti darò una maestra” (I will give you a teacher) dedicated to Mother Mary, composed by Maria Dina Bertotti. The words of welcome by Maria Ausilia De Siena FMA, General Councillor for Communication set the tone for the evening exhorting everyone to continue to dream and realize this God’s dream in everyone. This was followed by the screening of the Video of the Strenna 2024. The Strenna video beautifully prepared by IME Communications highlighted the various situations in which the dreams of the young people are shattered and enslaved and how we need to move to liberate and educate everyone to realize this God’s dream for each one of us.
Soon after the screening, the much-awaited encounter with the Rector Major Cardinal Ángel Fernández Artime together with the interviewers Marta Rossi, Salesian Cooperator and Roberta xxxx, a professor set the stage for greater interaction.
The Rector Major exhorted everyone to read the Strenna, understand the symbolism, and understand the dream of Don Bosco and his dream for his followers and the young people. He also mentioned how all the Rector Majors had made a reference to the dream and had offered lot of reflection on the same. Fr Angel also expressed that he had many dreams when he started 10 years back, and he was glad to offer now in his last Strenna, the theme of the dream, and offer 12 concrete proposals accompanying it. He affirmed that today we need to find the young people, in the places where they are, and live concretely this sacrament of presence. This will help us to awaken and give life to their dreams, walking along with them by creating genuine relationships and helping them discover their own dreams.
Responding to the question how we would respond to the youth of today who are lost in so many technological and digital evolutions, he affirmed that many are caught up in the waves of ephemeral reality. He exhorted everyone to fight this culture of fleetingness and help the young people to decide and choose what really matters in life. The mere click, or instantaneous response, is very deceptive and cannot solve everything or offer lasting results.
On the question, of what could be our response to the young who are violent and restless, the Rector Major categorically affirmed that the Preventive System was the magical tool offered by Don Bosco. We need to communicate that enthusiasm, that freshness of the heart that can inspire, elevate, and open roads to deeper dialogue. Many young people today feel orphaned and unaccompanied to realize their dreams. We need to communicate this freshness, meekness and authenticity that the young people clearly differentiate, and this would help us to build the civilization of love and peace. This would be the greatest contribution that the 6000 plus institutions of the Salesian family in the world, can offer to the four to five million young people who frequent our institutions.
Speaking on the role of the teacher, as in the dream at the age of nine, the Rector Major clarified that any institution or Salesian life without Mary would be meaningless and redundant, and will not carry any relevance. This was the patrimony that Don Bosco had offered to everyone – Mary as our guide and teacher, who will accompany us in our lives’ journey.
He expressed his joy and contentment stating that all those institutions and initiatives that are dedicated for the most poor and vulnerable young people in difficult situations, were the best ones carrying forward the dream of Don Bosco. “Any institution that receives and empowers the lost and the least, will be the most beautiful Salesian presence in the world”, he affirmed.
He concluded stating that our enthusiastic and joyful response can help the young people discover their dreams and help them discover God in their lives and help mature God’s dream for them. If every member of the Salesian family transmits this joyful enthusiasm, with radicality and honesty, immense benefits for the Salesian mission would be seen. It would create a lot of miracles and transformation in the lives of the young people, leaving everlasting impact on them.
After this exciting stage discussion, Sr. Chiara Cazzuola, the Mother General thanked everyone for their presence, and especially was grateful to the Rector Major for the gift of the Strenna. She affirmed that this dream was very close to the vocational journey of everyone and at the heart of the Salesian mission.
The evening concluded with another new hymn on the theme of the dream, composed by Fr. Maurizio Palazzo SDB for this occasion. Present for this important moment of the Salesian Family were the Mother General of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Sr. Chiara Cazzuola with her council members; the General Councillor for Social Communication, Fr. Gildasio Mendes; the Superior of the Vice Province of UPS, Fr José Aníbal Milhais Pinto Mendonça; the FMA Novices, several FMAs, other Salesians of Don Bosco and representatives of the Salesian Family.