It is the bold and clear statement by the Salesians of South Asia regarding their relationship with the young. In an unequivocal term they spelt out that at no time or place the young people will be an option to them. They will always and forever be a priority, toping the list and never be compromised for anything. They will be held as priority over and above all other choices in life and work.
“It is enough that you are young for me to love you”, Don Bosco had made it absolutely clear in his life. He did not qualify and grade the young whom he encountered at his era. Instead accepted each of them as they were and loved them all. So much so that each of them considered that he is best loved by Don Bosco than the others. He visibly manifested in numerous forms his love for them, in the course of daily life. He wasted no occasion in telling the young people how much he loved them dearly and unconditionally. His affection for them had no limits. He synthesised all his love for the young in these words, “For you I study, for you I work, for you I live, for you I am ready even to give my life”. It did not remain as empty words. The rest of his life was a witness to how he actualised it in daily activities and closeness to the young. He educated and formed his followers in doing the same. He demanded that youth are made personal priority and responsibility of each one of those who wanted to be part of his organisation. “All that I do I do it for you” was his summation of activities.
Today as followers of Don Bosco, the focus has not shifted. Priorities are not altered. Responsibilities remain the same. Only the groups of young people whom we encounter is different. We identify them in their diverse cultures with varied challenges. The support systems and structures differ now from then. Our approaches today are bettered, enhanced and developed to suit the current needs and dynamics. We hold on to the young. The former Rector Major Pascual Chavez used to say that without them we have no existence. They are our source and destination. They are the raison d’etre and our spirituality.
In our given context we continue to make young people our priority and responsibility while we
- place ourselves and all that we have at their disposal; our knowledge, wealth, resources, time, future plans, every ouns of energy, et al for their good
- follow their life closely with the motive of assisting and accompanying them
- understand their world and cultures, needs and challenges from their perspectives and not ours
- make all that is theirs as ours and offer them all that is ours
- without limitations and conditions place ourselves at their disposal
- convert and transform our centres and institutes into welcome spaces where all type of young people feel welcomed, comfortable and at ease
- deem their success, progress and failures as our own
- visibly manifest ourselves as companions of the young
These and many other forms of representations of our work and life enable us to be truly close to the young people. With pride we stand with the young as friends and fellow sojourners in their life’s journey and say with Don Bosco, “Take note that whatever I am, I have been so entirely for you, day and night, morning and evening, at every moment”.