Interview. “From energy to social emergencies Salesians ready for great challenges”

Jean Paul Muller with speaker Janis McDavid, one of the speakers of Sdb Change

Jean Paul Muller with speaker Janis McDavid, one of the speakers of Sdb Change – Ans

For the first time the Salesian Congregation brought together its provincial treasurers, the managers of the planning and development offices, the directors of the public prosecutors’ offices, the fundraising managers and all the other key persons for the economic management of the Salesian Family in a congress. which counts more than 14 thousand people in 134 nations of the world: religious called to work for economic efficiency, a vocation to young people and a witness to poverty. The SDB Change appointment – which began last Monday and closes today in Rome, at the Salesian Pontifical University – served to “strengthen our energy, our know-how, always with spirituality and vocation for young people at the center. always confront each other to help young people in the best possible way for a future that will be more complex and turbulent »explains Jean Paul Muller, general treasurer of the Congregation.

The challenge of change is already in the title of the Congress. What need to change?

On the one hand, the change is before our eyes. We see the transformations of the geopolitical scenario, the drama of refugees from Africa, the great social problems that are going through Asia and Europe. Then there are the challenges of technological innovations, from artificial intelligence to cryptocurrencies, and those of the global agenda, starting with the sustainable economy. On the other hand is our ability to change. Every person who has the responsibility of guaranteeing the walls and structures in which we educate around the world experiences unprecedented different challenges, but which have many characteristics in common. This is why we decided for the first time to make this great effort to physically find ourselves all together to think about possible solutions, to give a Salesian answer to the questions raised by the contemporary world.

The economy clearly plays an important role in this change. How does the rush of prices and commodities impact your business?

I have been the general treasurer for twelve years and I have never seen a situation like this. Liquidity problems emerge from various administrative centers: they used the reserves to maintain the centers and pay salaries in the months of the pandemic and now, faced with the surge in all costs, they are forced to borrow to carry on the business. This is also a topic of discussion: there are those who have been able to respond well to change. Those who had already invested in recent years to become autonomous on the energy side, for example. But also schools that in some areas have rediscovered agriculture, using the lawns around the structures to grow vegetables for canteens. As a Congregation today we have the Generalate, here in Rome, next to Termini Station, which is an open construction site, because we want to reduce as much as possible all waste of energy and polluting emissions. Of course, it’s hard for everyone: we recently organized an aid plan for the Tigray region and when we prepared everything we saw that the amount with which three trucks of aid could usually be sent was now just enough for one truck …

What are the major issues at the heart of the congress?

We have been preparing this appointment for two and a half years. We have chosen five crucial themes: sustainable economy, Salesian spirituality, artificial intelligence, communication of the future, the prevention of corruption. For us Salesians the idea of ​​preparing the good citizens of the future is fundamental. But what does it mean today to be good citizens in a context where, for example, corruption is rampant? Or what does it mean to be good citizens with respect to the impact of our everyday choices on the environment? It is on these kinds of questions that we confronted each other.

Did you find the answers?

Obviously there are no definitive answers to the big questions of our time. But we expect those who participated to return home with more motivation, optimism and awareness. We talked about topics that I’m almost illiterate too, like digital currencies or artificial intelligence. But in some countries this is normal and we cannot fail to be prepared, we cannot say ‘this does not interest us’: these are ‘new things’ of the reality in which our young people will be immersed and we need to know them to prepare them for the world. .

Interview. “From energy to social emergencies Salesians ready for great challenges”