After his whirlwind Australian tour, Rector-Major Father Ángel Fernández Artime was immediately back in action when on the morning of May 3, he arrived in Taco, Spain to meet with more than 200 young beneficiaries of the work of the "Fundación Don Bosco" at the Canary Islands.
In the first meeting of his second day in Tenerife, the Rector Major was able to visit the territorial headquarters of the foundation to talk with more than 100 educators who carry out their work in the Social Education Platforms of the Salesian Province of Spain Maria Ausiliatrice (SMX).
Accompanied by Fr. Juan Carlos Pérez Godoy, Councilor for the Mediterranean Region, Fr. Ángel Asurmendi, Superior of the SMX Province, Ignacio Vázquez, Director of the foundation, and Fr. Francisco Ruiz and Paco Jaldo, the Directors of Salesian houses on the island, the Rector Major learned about the residential care, socio-educational and socio-occupational insertion projects that the Salesian institution carries out among at-risk youth following Don Bosco's Preventive System. The foundation's activities, spread across three autonomous communities through more than 160 of the foundation's social projects, are characterized by comprehensive education and personalized accompaniment, with the person as the protagonist of his or her own process and a family climate as the framework.
Big smiles follow the Rector-Major wherever he may be!
Afterwards, the Rector Major experienced a special moment with the real protagonists: over 100 young beneficiaries of the projects who waited impatiently, writing messages addressed to Fr. Á.F. Artime, next to a large heart that manned the courtyard and bore one of Don Bosco's mottos, "You are thieves. You have stolen my heart."
On the occasion, Bamba, a young man from Senegal, shared his testimony of life and told how he discovered the work of the Salesian foundation and Don Bosco. And then Asari, Begoña, Tayloa, and Mustafa picked up the baton and addressed their questions to the Rector Major: How do you "hook" a young person who knows the Salesians and decides to stay? What does it feel like to succeed someone like Don Bosco? What can you bring to young people through this work? What to say to a young person who is on the street looking for a way out? To all of them, Don Bosco's 10th Successor responded with affability, making it clear that the "family flavor" is the hallmark of the Salesian heart.
"I said yes because I love young people very much," began Fr. Á.F. Artime, "This is the greatest peace I have as Rector Major. To be the Successor of Don Bosco is a very beautiful thing. None of the ten successors, as we read in various letters, ever felt worthy of this service. Don Bosco is too big, with a heart full of love for God and for young people. I feel small, but I try, together with all of us who form Don Bosco's family, to fulfill his dream."
"The dreams you have, the great values that accompany you and the confidence in your possibilities are the real challenge," he then insisted, focusing on the person of each young man.
"To educators I say that of all the young people we can meet, the most vulnerable, those most at risk, those on the street... Anything we can do for them will be our priority," he said.
After the questions, two young people, Rocío and José Alberto, dedicated the song "Corazón Salesiano" by Nico Montero to him. The meeting ended, after the touching testimony of Salesian José Luis Aguirre, with the handing over of the heart "stolen from Don Bosco" and a video made by the young people loaded with messages and dreams. "Thank you very much, Don Ángel, for this time," concluded Ignacio Vázquez, Director of the Salesian Foundation.
With thanks to ANS for this story