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3/12/2012 - RMG - PE: attention to migrants; data and intercultural commitment
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(ANS – Rome) – The third working session for Provincials from Europe saw the presentation of research carried out on “Attention to migrants and the Salesian Mission in multicultural societies in Europe”, research carried out by Fr Vito Orlando, lecturer in Social Pedagogy and Vice Rector of the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome.

The study, as well as providing a snapshot of what Salesians are already doing for migrants in Europe, was aimed at identifying a number of strategies: making this a choice at province level; identifying formation strategies and how to sensitise Salesians and their lay partners; involving migrants themselves in the Salesian mission; seeking the basic motivations for making our commitment to migrant work essential and seeing its effectiveness in relaunching the Salesian educational effort in Europe.

His address, as does the book containing the research, opened with reference to the origins of the Salesian charism. “As an active player in a society marked by strong changes, Don Bosco gave his attention to the phenomenon of migration, Fr Orlando said, and the viewpoint that guided his interventions whether in Turin or in Buenos Aires later, was undoubtedly a religious one, the salvation of souls; but his originality was expressed in seeking strategies and methods able to guarantee life choices and fitting into society by seeing the value of each individual's own potential, including for the benefit of society”.

Attention to migrants could help the volunteer movement for young people to grow, could urge Salesians to return to working with the poorest of the poor, and could be a way of fitting into the local area better, as well as finding more consistent understanding amongst and with our lay partners.

Taking the data as a whole, one can see certain indications emerging which are common to the various settings such that attention to migrants in the Salesian mission could be a significant contribution to society today and an effective way of being part of and collaborating with the local scene. This rediscovered attention to our local surroundings can encourage our attention to the poor youngsters there and help us find greater collaboration in Don Bosco's name. This could allow our charism to be better appreciated as well as create new circumstances for vocational choice.

“Attention given to the very poor, being part of the local area, broader collaboration with lay people help make us more credible, also to non-believers, and provide a significant contribution to the local Church”, Fr Orlando explained. It is also clear that attention to migrants should encourage intercultural formation, which is important for the quality of our contribution to the multicultural scene and can give rise to cooperation with non-European provinces.

However, education remains central for us and needs to be rethought in the real situations of life in today's multicultural society; the paradigm is interculturality. Formation of Salesians to intercultural education and Salesian contribution to intercultural education emerge from the research as both a challenge and a need. There is another which goes beyond the matter of simple strategy: creating approaches that help integrate migrants and local people.

Our attention to migrants, the Rector Major then explained, is a charismatic priority in our Salesian mission  “that needs to be a dimension running across every Salesian presence. It is a case of renewing our education, pedagogical mindset and converting it into an ability to tackle the intercultural pedagogical approach. We need to modernise our social and political mindset so we can take an active part in building a new European Community which sees migrants as a resource rather than a problem”.

Fr Orlando's text summing up his research is available in Italian in the Project Europe section of

Published 03/12/2012

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