Syria – The true meaning of life of a Salesian is to stay among young people, whatever the cost

While international agencies report that the truce of 72 hours in Aleppo, proclaimed after the intense fighting of recent days, has already been violated, Fr Pier Jabloyan, Salesian of Aleppo, spoke in an interview about how he sees the current war, the young people, the present and the future, everyday life in time of armed conflict … and on what is, ultimately, “the true meaning of Salesian life.”

What makes you most afraid: the noise of the bombs or the empty playground?

When the playground is full of children and young people it means that there is still hope for a better present and future. As the Rector Major Emeritus, Fr Pascual Chávez, once said: young people are not only a resource for the future, young people are a resource for the present!

Therefore, the noise of the bombs will go for sure, but when there are no young people, it does not bode well.

Article. 18 of our Constitutions on work and temperance, says that the Salesian is ready to suffer cold and heat, hunger and thirst, weariness and disdain, whenever God’s glory and the salvation of souls requires it. I think we can also add war and all the harm caused by war.

What is your community doing now?

Today the situation has improved even though we still hear the explosions. In the community we carry on with life: in the morning we go as chaplains to the Giuseppine sisters who have a hospital, and the Franciscan Sisters. Then we come back for meditation and Morning Prayer. Then there is the ordinary housework: maintenance, preparation for activities or meetings with young and old. So, somehow or other we keep busy.

Fr Juan Vecchi, eighth successor of Don Bosco, used to say: “Young people will save us”. What does this phrase mean to you at this time?

I think the real way of life of a Salesian is to stay among young people: they give us the sense of our presence … Don Bosco understood this immediately, when he met Bartholomew Garelli for the first time. It was decisive for him, there he realized that this was his mission. This is what the Lord wanted him to do. And we here, like many other Salesians in the world, share that same feeling that Don Bosco had.

We will go to heaven with the youth that we have saved. In this way they will save us. In the words of the Rector Major, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, in his address to GC27: young people are our burning bush!

We ask again for prayer. We want to spread word of the Day of Prayer for Syria, on Sunday, 8 May.  Thank you all!

In solidarity with the Syrian people, the Rector Major shared on Facebook today the appeal launched by Fr Jabloyan to draw attention to the “scandal” of the war.