The International Congress on Saint Francis de Salesorganized by the Institute of Spiritual Theology of the Salesian Pontifical University (UPS) and with the title “Saint Francis de Sales between posterity, spirituality and pedagogy”, concluded in Rome (Italy) on Sunday, November 20. Some 200 participants, coming from four continents, gathered to reflect for three days on the spirituality and legacy of the Bishop of Geneva. Among the participants there was a large representation of the groups of the Salesian Family and of Salesian-inspired congregations.
Retrospective of the Bishop of Geneva
The first part of the Congress was dedicated to the fruits of the saint after his death. In this part, each congregation and institute inspired by St. Francis de Salesbeginning with the first, the Order of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin, founded by the Bishop of Geneva himself at the beginning of the 17th century, and ending with the youngest Congregation, founded by Monsignor Jose Cognata (sdb): the Salesian Oblates of the Sacred Heart. Without limiting themselves to statistics, the congregations explained why they were founded and how the charism is still inspired by Saint Francis de Sales.
In the second part of the Congress, various themes of his spiritual and theological heritage were explored. The speakers accepted the request to delve into a specific topic. Among other topics, they talked about his pedagogytalk given by Michal Vojtas (sdb), Vice Chancellor of UPS; on the relationship between Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Joanna Francisca de Chantalthe defender of human rightsby Wendy Wright, from the United States; on the call to holinessby Eugenio Albuquerque (sdb Spanish), a great expert on the figure of the Saint of Geneva; on communicationby Vincenzo Marinello, from Italy; on the relationship between contemplation and actionby Giuseppe Roggia (sdb), from Italy; on his influence of the doctor of moral theologyby Thierry Le Goaziouwith references to studies of Xavier Thevenot (sdb); on relations with Protestantsby Emile Amoungou Amoungou, from Italy; on friendshipby Miran Sajovic (sdb), from Italy; and about his ecclesiology, Aimable Musoni (sdb), from Italy.
The final report of the Congress was made by Mr. ezio pens, from the diocese of Bergamo, an expert familiar with the Bishop of Geneva, who made an accurate synthesis of the two parts of the Congress, underlining the common aspects and also the differences that arose in those three days. The contributions of the various speakers will be published in the proceedings of the Congress, which will be published in the summer of 2023.
Among the various activities, the fourth issue of the university magazine was presented salesianumdedicated entirely to Saint Francis de Salesby the conference coordinator, William Collin, (sdb). The magazine contains articles by various experts on the Doctor of the Church, declared in 1877 by the Pope Pius IX. Each of them has illuminated a particular aspect, with spaces for historical analysis such as, on the one hand, the vision of the Church or the image of Saint Joseph; on the other, articles that serve as a bridge between the Salesian vision, the Second Vatican Council and the Pope Francisco.
On the occasion of the conferences, at the entrance of the Salesian Pontifical University (UPS) there was an exhibition in which twelve lesser-known aspects of the bishop were depicted, along with some quotes in different languages from his works. In addition, outstanding works from the 17th and 18th centuries held by the “Don Bosco Library” of the same university were exhibited.
Several participants expressed the hope that this first meeting is only the beginning of a journey to deepen Salesian spirituality. In fact, it was the first time in 400 years that 13 Salesian-inspired congregations came together. The scientific committee of the congress has accepted this invitation and will meet in mid-December to think about the future.