I thought he said “storeman with Angus and Robertson”, which seemed a little lowly for a high-flying twenty-year-old nearing the end of a degree in Music at the Melbourne Conservatorium, “majoring in performance” (he insisted I got that right, at least). He’s off today conducting a local band and would like, if the truth be known, to conduct major orchestras around the world – a well-nurtured hope that shows every promise of being realised, along with a vocation to be a Salesian Cooperator. He didn’t say ‘storeman’ at all; he said he was a ‘story man’. And you’ve got to believe it. He might sell books to earn a quid to fulfill his dreams, but he believes in The Story, and whatever else he does, it will be but a character in the larger Story. He talked about it.
“I guess I got lucky. My Salesian beginnings were initiated from the beginning and I feel undeservingly fortunate to be in a position where I can appreciate just how nurturing my upbringing and childhood was”, Carlos (his dad prefers Carlito, I think) mused. “Right from the very beginning I found myself being immersed in a Salesian world. My parents always believed it was better for me to come along than stay behind and that attitude saw me at camps (at 4 years old, I recall!), conferences and meetings, even as far as Hong Kong before I was old enough to even comprehend what was going on”.
Carlos has had Salesian education without ever having had Salesian schooling. He is a fine product of great men and women, apart from his mum and dad, like Brother Frank McCarthy, an Edmund Rice man par excellence (aka Christian Brother), but his Salesian education, begun and continued at home, was in those camps, at those conferences, then as a leader, now as a post-Samoa mission immersion experience volunteer, and so on.
He tells me “one has to be silver-tongued” to sell books, and that sounds slightly tarnished, but Carlos is a polished performer – hence the ‘major’ insistence above. His eyes shine as he goes on.
“The wonderful thing about the Salesian spirit is that it can be found in the humblest of places. It is easily recognisable to those familiar to it and the best part is, someone doesn’t even need to know they have it for them to share it. My mother and father are both incredible sources of this very spirit and in their own interaction with young people and myself; I found the best role-model for being Salesian even though I wasn’t aware of it at the time. When I was young my parents had rallied together a group of like-minded friends, immigrants like themselves. At the core of their interests was the Christian upbringing of their children. These families met every month on a Sunday… I have fond memories of these monthly get-togethers which really involved us kids running on trampolines and playing whatever games amused us until Mass. Little did I realise that that was the focus for these gatherings”.
Carlos is also the product of two other fine Salesians, Ashley and Andree, who live family life in a Salesian spirit and run a Salesian youth formation programme (aka Dromana Camp, but far more besides), constantly inviting other families to work with them and create a Salesian Family (literally) Centre. The story man goes on…
“When I was eight years old I forced myself into a camp (he was under age!) which would rapidly change and shape so much of who I am. For twelve years I have proudly associated myself with Don Bosco Camp, Dromana, and it has provided me with an almost infinite source of happiness over the years”. Then comes the killer reflection for a twenty-year-old. Which of us wouldn’t want to still be striving for this depth…”Inside each member of the Salesian Family lies an unsuppressed joy that can never be silenced and is always looking to be shared. This became entirely evident for me when I went to World Youth Day in Sydney”.
The story is long and also long-unfinished and a bit longer than a usual ‘austraLasia’ but I think it’s worth letting Carlito finish this bit: “A handful of willing camp leaders and brave outsiders quested into the New South Wales capital and into hundreds and thousands of young people carrying the camp spirit, which really is Don Bosco’s spirit. Several hundred Salesians, youth, lay and clergy, gathered at Engadine. Inside that simple, vast tin shed I was witness to one of the greatest expressions of energy, joy and celebration I had ever experienced. At that point I realised how universal the Salesian spirit is, but really, how universal joy is. Ultimately that’s what we deal in. Joy… that’s why I want to become a Salesian Cooperator”.
What a line to finish a story on! Carlito would love to go to Madrid next year, but he also has to face the fact that he just could be auditioning in Paris, or London, or New York, and big Carlos and mother Carmen are filled with joy too.
So by the way, are many other mums and dads and young people who are part of the Salesian Family in this Province.
Thank you story man. Thank you Australia-Pacific