Understanding Violence and Building a Better World

Dr. Juan Carlos Quirarte’s Message on Salesian Mission Day

The annual celebration of Mission Day in the Salesian Province of the Western United States was held recently, and it was a momentous occasion as Juan Carlos Quirarte Ph. D, a former Salesian priest who now works for an organization linked to the United Nations, was invited to share his thoughts on the “Strenna” of the Rector Major this year.

Dr. Quirarte’s organization is dedicated to working with people who have committed offenses against children and minors, and he highlighted the importance of protecting their dignity and mental health, even as they face punishment for their crimes. He also emphasized the role of lay people in the Salesian family and bringing life to spaces that may seem dead, reviving the changing reality that young people find themselves in.

In order to understand the reality of young people, Dr. Quirarte discussed the three types of violence – physical, psychological, and economic – that can be visible or invisible, and the two types of structural violence – those who have alternatives and those who do not. He urged the Salesian family to understand these types of violence and work towards eradicating them, just as Don Bosco did in his time by fighting for the rights of workers and young people.

Dr. Quirarte also spoke about cultural violence and the need for an intercultural society that allows for exchange and real coexistence between cultures. He encouraged the Salesian family to be pioneers in breaking with paradigms and talking about taboo topics such as interpersonal relationships and the consumption of psychoactive substances.

The doctor challenged the Salesian family to ask themselves who are the young people who need them the most, and who are the victims of structural violence. He shared the story of a young man who was in jail and how his task was to treat this young man as “another me”, exchange words, give affection, listen and understand the young person, not only love him but make him feel loved and important.

Dr. Quirarte ended his presentation by launching challenges to the Salesian family to make a difference in social, political, and educational environments. He urged them to be responsible and break with paradigms to effect positive change, just as Don Bosco did in his time.

Overall, Dr. Quirarte’s message was one of hope and encouragement for the Salesian family to work towards creating a more just and compassionate society for young people, and to do so with the understanding and dedication that comes from being part of a larger community.