Strenna (Theme) for 2013:
Don Bosco the Educator
(ANS – Rome) – Following the program announced last year for the 3 years of preparation for the bicentennial of Don Bosco’s birth, the strenna of the Rector Major for 2013 is an invitation to get to know DB by seeing him as the educator. “Like Don Bosco the educator, we offer young people the Gospel of joy through a pedagogy of kindness.” The 2013 Strenna, announced publicly on June 6, is an opportunity to deepen our understanding of and update the Preventive System.
The first official act of Fr. Pascual Chavez as the general council opened their summer plenary session on Tuesday, June 5, was to present the topic for 2013 Strenna to the council. The RM explained its content and the angle he was taking by recalling a twofold need: “A deeper study of Salesian pedagogy is certainly necessary, on the one hand, so that it can be updated according to the sensitivity and demands of our time,” and on the other hand, “to make the content and approach of what Don Bosco offered in educational and pastoral terms our own.”
It is a rediscovery, then, of the Preventive System that takes into account a historical understanding of Don Bosco’s approach and the insights already present in his experience of the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales at the Pinardi house, “that would afterward acquire a deeper value as part of a complex human and Christian synthesis.”
“Once we have a correct understanding of the past, we need to translate the Preventive System’s major insights and virtues for today … to the advantage of the formation of the ‘new’ youth of the 21st century, who is called to experience and deal with a vast, totally new range of circumstances and problems in times that have changed decisively, and which the human sciences themselves are now reflecting upon critically.”
The RM offers three particular slants, developed briefly, that will help set a process of modernization in place: (1) relaunching DB’s concept of the “upright citizen” and “good Christian”; (2) return to the young better prepared; (3) education of the heart.
The RM’s presentation is already a good tool for reflection and work on the part of the educational and pastoral community and the various Salesian Family commissions or coordinating bodies. The text, in fact, suggests some evaluation processes which cover both attitudes and planning possibilities. And this year, too, as for other years, the text adds an early indication of what will probably be the major reference points for concrete tasks stemming from 2013 Strenna.
As he did last year, Fr. Chavez offers the Salesian Family a bibliography as a set of references: “The Preventive System in the Education of Youth,” the 1884 “Letter from Rome,” and the biographies of Dominic Savio, Michael Magone, and Francis Besucco, “all written by Don Bosco, which well illustrate both his educational experience and his pedagogical choices.”
The treatise on the Preventive System (under the title “An Ounce of Prevention”) and the biographies of the 3 young pupils of the Oratory may be ordered from Salesiana Publishers by calling 201-986-0503.