The Booth: From the Inside Out

By Sr. Mary Greenan, FMA

It was at the same time both simple and  profound. Three key factors were on display  representing three essential elements of the  Salesian booth at the LA Religious Education  Congress 2023: 

1) The Salesian name or ‘brand,’  

2) Education of the young and  

3) Don Bosco appearing behind the shoulder  of the towering statue of a life-size Mary, Help of Christians  

Hearts Accompanying Hearts 

One key lesson was being taught: An  inspired combination of identity, devotion  and educational mission continues to move  the hearts of people open to making the  journey into the mystery of God through their following of Christ.  

By far the majority of those who stopped by  the booth were good, committed, and faith filled lay people, open to God being in their  daily lives and consequently continuing to be  that “yeast in today’s human family” (2023  Strenna).  

It was a truly humbling experience to be in that  booth on two levels. In the first instance the  experience of devotion to the figure of Mary  was almost tangible. She attracted visitors  and then drew them in. Her significance as  “Help of Christians” was real to many and as  if affirming her presence one more time. The  image of Don Bosco behind her right shoulder  confirmed the awesome reality that true  devotion engenders hope and entrustment to  God. True, there were a few who did not know  her immediately, yet still they were drawn by  the need for that same hope and entrustment.  

Then the simple act of taking a slip of paper and writing the name or need that each one had in their hearts, and the equally unpretentious act of offering this prayer, entrusting this need to Mary to bring to her Son, Jesus.  

Looking from Deeply Within 

From inside the booth, we had the vantage point of seeing the faces, the expressions, the intensity and the demeanor of each one as they presented their petitions. From inside the booth, we witnessed the devotion and the love so obviously intermingled with the pain and the tears of people burdened by their own personal stories.  

Outside: An Atmospheric River

While outside of the booth, and even the  convention center, California was once again  experiencing another ‘atmospheric river’ of  rain and wind; from inside the booth we were  experiencing a different and maybe even  greater atmospheric river of our own.  

Inside: A Devotional River 

For, from inside the booth, we were witnessing  a devotional river of the world’s problems  being entrusted in faith to God’s goodness,  God’s love for each one of us. From inside the  booth, we became a container of hope and a  receptacle of boundless love simply by being  present, fully and wholeheartedly present to all as Salesians. 

Identity, Devotion, Educational Mission 

From inside the booth, we could not help but  become aware that the combination of identity,  devotion, and educational mission at the heart  of our Salesian endeavors is as necessary  today as it was when first it began to evolve  all those years ago. Indeed, perhaps we were  having confirmed for us that the Salesian  charism continues to grow and evolve to  the degree that we remain among the people  of God, encouraging and loving them to the  fullness of life promised to us by Jesus. Truly  the experience of recognizing God at work in  our lives is at the heart of our Salesian Mission  today.  

To the extent that we continue to take any and  all opportunities to inspire, encourage and  even cajole our young people especially, to  live for each other and for others with love and  devotion and hope we shape the future faith of  the generations to come.