by BISMumbai, courtesy BISIndia

Mumbai, Feb. 22. Father Stefano Vanoli, Moderator General Chapter 28 in his pre-Chapter 'good night' on 15 February 2020 at the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians said, ''We are in Valdocco, we are from Valdocco'' not as a mere statement, but also as a greeting of welcome for the Salesians, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and lay faithful arriving in Turin-Valdocco as participants, reminding them that it is a return to Valdocco after 62 years. The General Chapter 28, with its significantly 'biblical 07' week-duration, with the 242 Capitulars, representing the 7 Regions, comprising of 66 nationalities engaged in active youth ministry in over 130 countries, is intensely seeking answers to the question ''What type/kind of Salesians for the young people of today?'' till it concludes on 04 April. GC 28 is expected to be a General Chapter that will provide renewed strength of purpose to the vocation and charismatic identity of Don Bosco's disciples.

On Sunday 16 February, the solemn inaugural Eucharist presided over by the Rector Major Father Angel Fernandez Artime, was celebrated in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Turin, broadcast live on the ANS Facebook page and on the website In his homily, Father Artime said, ''This is a house that recalls that the General Chapter is not a company or an industrial organization that designs how best to produce, but an assembly that in faith wants to look to the past and faithfully look to the future. Faith and will of fidelity must guide the next 49 days: many think about it, many pray, and above all many children and young people await an answer from us. With faith and personal availability the Holy Spirit will guide the way.'' He added further that an enormously responsible task awaits the Chapter members, '' to be a human mediation of the action of the Holy Spirit over the next 07 weeks. If this were not the case, then it would not be a General Chapter of the Society of St Francis de Sales. It would simply be a congress like so many others, like those held every day by thousands of institutions of all kinds.'' He recalled SGC20 saying, ''In order to carry out the discernment and renewal needed, it is not enough to have historians, or theologians, or politicians, or organisers: what is needed are men who are known to be ''spiritual'', men of faith, sensitive to the things of God and ready for courageous obedience, as was our Founder. True fidelity to Don Bosco consists not in copying him outwardly, but in imitating Don Bosco in his fidelity to the movements of the Holy Spirit.'' He proposed 03 attitudes of docility, fidelity and hope. The full text of the homily is available on

On Monday 17 February, the GC 28 Moderator, Father Vanoli stated the specific feature of the Chapter detailing the tasks entrusted to the Moderator, which essentially concern 02 moments - the preparatory phase and the celebration / development phase of the General Chapter. He also presented the specific implications of the 'theme' stating that ''it is a unitary theme but divided into three groups: the priority of the Salesian mission among today's young people, the profile of the Salesian for today's young people, the mission and the formation shared between Salesians and lay people.'' He reminded the capitulars that there is a ''need to analyze these aspects in depth in order to define and redefine the ''face'' of the consecrated Salesian of 2020. To achieve this goal we must necessarily start from the young who are the ''theological place'' in which, like Don Bosco, we too are called by God.'' He further briefed the assembly of the 02 particularities of the GC 28, saying, ''21 young people from the 07 regions of the Congregation will participate, with the right to speak, in an entire week of chapter work and will give their contribution on the topic of the priority of the youth mission today. A dozen lay people chosen from various parts of the Salesian world, called to offer their contribution to the core of the mission and formation shared with the laity,'' will also participate in the days to come. Thereafter, the presentation reports of the Sectors and Regions by members of the General Council began.

On Tuesday 18 February, the Rector Major's report on the state of the Congregation was broadcast live on the ANS Facebook page [the 1st time this has happened in the History of the Congregation]. ''What is the status of our beloved Congregation?'' found its response in ''The visibility and credibility of our consecrated life has diminished: it is a weakness and also a permanent challenge, which is faced with faith and courage: the more than 400 novices who begin Salesian life every year are a gift that confirm that our Congregation has not lost its loyalty,'' according to Father Artime. He highlighted the educative-evangelising work of the Congregation involving families in the accompaniment of the young with the availability and a fruitful exchange of confreres among the Provinces. However, he also reminded the assembly that there is no shortage of challenges and appeals and ''as a Congregation we feel an active part in the Church, in union with Pope Francis, always ready to accept his indications as highlighted in the recent Synods on the family and young people.'' He invited the Capitulars in the regional groups, during moments of reflection, prayer, and comparison, to study - formation, presence/accompaniment among the poorest young people, sharing the mission with the laity, being actively present in the digital reality.

Wednesday 19, Thursday 20, and Friday 21 were days dedicated to reflection, study, prayer, and regional group discussions. These 03 days of spirituality and study to ''discern the priority challenges of the Congregation and identify the fundamental processes and interventions that must mark the 2020-2026 term,''were done through 03 meditations offered by Father Rossano Sala, on ''The priority of the Salesian mission among today's young people''; Father Eunan McDonnell, on: ''The profile of the Salesian today''; and Father Luis Fernando (Koldo) Gutierrez, on: ''Together with the laity in mission and formation.'' [all documents available online]

This is just the beginning, for the plot is yet to unfold in days to come. Stay tuned via SDB.ORG and ANS