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Salesians asked to expand ministry

VATICAN CITY (Zenit): Since the family should have an active role in the education of youth, it is necessary to expand youth ministry to family ministry, Pope Benedict XVI has told the Salesians.

The Pope encouraged the Salesians along these lines when he received in audience on March 31 representatives of that religious family, in Rome for their 29th General Chapter.

On March 25, the congregation re-elected Fr Pascual Chávez Villanueva as the ninth successor of the Salesian founder St John Bosco for another six years.

The chapter’s theme was a motto of St John Bosco, “Da mihi animas, cetera tolle” (give me souls, take away all else).

The Holy Father commented on the theme, noting that “its aim is to reawaken apostolic passion in each individual Salesian and in the entire congregation.

This will help better to define the profile of Salesians, that they may become more aware of their identity as people consecrated ‘for the glory of God'” and “of their pastoral commitment ‘to the salvation of souls'”.

“Another characteristic of the Salesian model is the consciousness of the inestimable value of souls,” the Holy Father said.

Thus, the Salesian “should have his heart open to identify the new needs of youth and listen to their appeals for help”, the Pope said, especially that of the “most materially and spiritually poor”.

Pope Benedict XVI exhorted the Salesians to help youth “above all to know and love” Jesus Christ “and to allow themselves to be fascinated by him, to cultivate the evangelical commitment, to want to do good to one’s contemporaries, to be apostles of other youth”.

The predilection for and commitment to young people, so characteristic of Don Bosco’s charism, must be translated into a like commitment to the involvement and formation of families, the pope said.

“To care for families is not to subtract force from efforts on behalf of the young, rather it makes those efforts more lasting and effective.”

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