The Salesian Family is a spiritual reality; it is not just a conglomerate of kindred bodies. It is a spiritual reality. It is the direct hand of God that plants the seed of the Salesian charism in the hearts of anyone he may so wish. He defies our usual way of organizing which is based on meritocracy. The Spirit gives his gifts gratuitously. St. John Bosco was the founder of four (4) member bodies in this spiritual family. But he is not the “founder” of the Salesian Family in the strict sense of the word. This only shows that at its very heart, the reality of the Salesian Family is a gift freely given by the Spirit; it is a call to a particular evangelical lifestyle and mission as articulated by St. John Bosco. God, so to say, made use of this great saint and founder to incarnate his gift, or to articulate this spiritual reality of the Spirit’s call to live one’s baptism in a particular style, which we now call the Salesian Spirit.
The Spirit chose to plant the seed of the Salesian charism in two ways: (1) by membership in the bodies allied to the Salesian Family. This means that the Spirit attracts the individual to St. John Bosco through various ways such as readings, a sermon, or etc. And the person articulates this call through his commitment in a body that embodies a particular articulation of the Salesian Spirit. Membership therefore is a conscious commitment as a response to the initial gift of the Spirit. The person actively nurtures the charism. (2) By education. This means that the Spirit gives the charism to the individual through his living contact with those who embody the charism. It is not a personal attraction or desire consciously nurtured by the recipient. We may call it, for want of a better term, “passive nurturance.” But in the same manner, as the former category, the gift is received, and the human response of nurturing the gift is there, albeit in a passive way.
Naturally, a charism nurtured in a passive way, that is, not claimed by the person becomes a gift that lcks dynamism. Since it is not consciously lived, and neither consciously claimed, there can be no personal articulation. Therefore, the gift is hidden under a veil, unable to express its glitter. It cannot have a target: it cannot have a direction. This charism might have been given by the Spirit and truly so, but at this point, we are already talking of the human cooperation to harness the gift.
A passively nurtured gift does not lend itself for the furtherance of the common mission. This is much obvious when the person concerned has even publicly pronounced his nonchalance or disregard for the identity associated with the gift. This person then cannot be a bona fide member of the organization, inasmuch as the organization does not exist just for itself or for kindred spirits’ sake; the organization exists for a mission. This is tantamount to saying that the Spirit may give the gifts freely, but each and every gift given is to further up a mission (St. John Bosco’s mission to the young).
We do not deny therefore the free and mysterious action of the Spirit in the heart of the individual; but it is the individual himself who cannot avail of the articulation of such a charism which happens only through the recognized member groups.
We have to accept, therefore, the fact that there are actually two categories of Don Bosco Alumni. (1) the general category of those who have received their schooling in don Bosco for at least one year, or shorter for those who have attended the shorter courses in the Skills Training Centers, and (2) the restricted category of those alumni who have freely and consciously committed themselves to a lifestyle and mission consonant with the Salesian cahrism. These are those we refer to as bona fide members of the Alumni Federation.
The Don Bosco Alumni was formally founded by blessed Philip Rinaldi in Turin, on March 1908.
The Federation is envisioned as a dynamic, family-centered organization that, in partnership with the Salesian Community, will serve as an anchor for Bosconian morals and values. The Federation shall provide all chapters with the support for the enhancement of human and spiritual formation and clear political understanding in order to bring forth valuable contributions to the ever-changing society.
All members shall commit themselves to strengthen the Federation and enable it to vigorously:
- Inspire the active involvement of chapter members in all alumni affairs that will foster the bond of unity, friendship, cooperation and mutual help;
- Deepen the ownership of the Don Bosco spirit through a continuing spiritualformation program for all chapter members. Such programs shall focus to familyand work values;
- Provide leadership in addressing relevant national issues and concerns that will encourage all chapter members to take an active stance in social development and progress;
- Take the lead in the nations’s socio-technological advancement by providing avenue for interactive commerce that advocates excellence, integrity, and the ideal Bosconian service.
Don Bosco’s contribution — “Good Christians and Honest Citizens!”