By: Luis Chacon
Province Coordinator for Volunteers
On December 2nd I had the opportunity to participate in the discussion of former Salesian volunteers in my Province of origin: Mexico-Guadalajara (MEG). The discussion was led by Margarita, the coordinator of the Salesian missionary volunteering of the Province of MEG. This event was via Zoom, and we began with a reflection on the beginning of Salesian missionary volunteering in the Salesian congregation.
In 1846 Don Bosco invited his mother to the Valdocco Oratory to become the mother of his boys, you could say that it was at that moment that the Salesian family began, and as is normal in a family: nobody wins, and nobody markets love. All love is voluntary, and a living testimony of this was Mama Margarita.
Don Bosco volunteered his boys when he repeatedly and tirelessly invited them to do good to their companions and to society (for example helping the city at the time of illness). Volunteering has marked the beginning of the Salesian charism, since volunteering is a free action for the good of others, it is something that comes from the heart without expecting anything in return. To be a volunteer is to do good to others out of love, not by force, it is to give love without expecting a salary (as Mama Margarita and the Oratorians did), to be a volunteer is to serve others from the depths of the heart.
Salesian educators (every member of a Salesian house is a Salesian educator) understand this well, that there are many hours of volunteer work, worries and sacrifices that are made in favor of the youth, because we all know that “education is a matter of the heart” and that there is no greater love than that which gives its life for those it loves.
However, referring to volunteering as a specific experience that a young person enters when they finish high school, there is always the question of the young person about what is he going to do with his life now? To this Pascual Chavez Villanueva responds, “volunteers are invited to belong to this wonderful family, which is the Salesian Family” missionary volunteering is an important part of the Salesian family, because volunteering does not end on a date but continues, a volunteer never retires, once you volunteer you will never stop working for the good of society”.
We also have the participation of Fr Hugo Orozco, who is our current regional, he has shared with us that the origin of his Salesian vocation is found in his experience of missionary volunteering in the communities of Oaxaca and has invited all the participants of the conversation to be brave and make decisions in their lives, to take the challenges head-on and follow the call that God makes in their hearts and that many times begins only as a curiosity. Once Salesian missionary volunteering, forever Salesian missionary volunteering and this gives a different meaning to life.