Last weekend we attended our second Salesian training weekend. When we attended the first, back at the beginning of June, what I knew about the Salesians was somewhat limited, but both then and this time around I have felt a real connection with the Salesian way of living faith and education, two things very close to my heart, as they are close to the heart of the Salesian vocation.
As humans we are made for communtiy, we are designed to exist in relationships which allow us to feel safe, to have a home and to have a sense of belonging. It is perhaps our very first need and vocation. Learning is important, but after several years in systems where knowledge and skills can seem to be the only thing that counts, I am pleased the Salesians recognise this as only one of the facets of education. Beyond what they can do or achieve, the Salesians also aim to give the young people they work with a sense of faith, a recognition of a deeper meaning in their lives. It can be easy to become too serious about all this and I am equally pleased that a sense of fun, the chance to play, and they joy of celebrating are also valued.
Together, these four aspects make up the Salesian window, and this window through which the Salesians view the way in which they work with children and young people is a window through which I am very pleased to be invited to look too.
Alongside the introduction to the Salesian charism, there has been plenty to think about in terms of the value of volunteering, and living in and sharing the many faceted story of the experience of life in a very different culture to our own.
So that's the theory (at least as I have understood it) ... and less than a fortnight until we experience what it translates to on the ground!