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Message to the PGSI 2014 Games

1 maggio 2014

“It’s all about the spirit.

In game and life as well”

Yes, dear athletes, trainers, coaches, managers and friends of PGS International. It is really all about the spirit, in games as well as in life itself! The organisers of this 25th edition of the International Games for Salesian Youth have chosen a very good motto. Certainly this event will once again be a wonderful experience of games and sharing of the Salesian style which is what unites the different teams coming from different European States, young people and adults who frequent the Oratory-Youth Centrers, Schools and Parishes of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and Salesians of Don Bosco.

This is a wonderful moment of sharing and collaboration as Salesian Family and the celebration of the 90th anniversary of the SDB presence in Slovakia. The FMA Institute accompanies this celebration with our encouragement, commitment and friendship, as we have always shown to the PGS, because we believe that Salesian sports educates and leads to a meeting with the Risen Christ, the Lord of life!

Although I am far, I am presently in the Far East, my thoughts are in Bratislava, in the heart of Europe, where you will be gathered from April 30 to May 5. I think of you in “good form” for fair play, with your bright-colored team uniforms, your smile and your energy characteristic of Salesian youth athletes! You will get to know people and make friends, but most of all you will give a new impetus and growth to the Salesian Youth Movement to whom you belong, sharing the same charism of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello. The Salesian charism knows no bounds. It is the same cultural and educative heritage that the PGS-I possesses. Youth sports animated by the Salesian spirit is alive and dynamic, and it is demonstrated by the vitality of the sports groups present in many European States.

You come to Bratislava from Austria, Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Spain and Slovakia at a time when many in Europe are skeptical about the union between these States in the building of justice, peace and common good. In this sports and cultural event, you show that the union of Europe’s youth is possible! Your coming together as PGS-I of Europe is the result of a process that has engaged FMA, SDB and lay people who daily live the spirit that animates the PGS and who have believed in the dream and helped this dream to become a reality. In these days of the Games you will build a new world founded on respect of every person, especially the weakest. Make the values of truth, good and solidarity grow. May your competitions be truly educative, a way to prepare for life in a world without borders. This is the world that you want and you know how to build it. May it be your training to create a European community of young people who realize their mission according to the values of the Gospel and the style of Valdocco and Mornese!

The experiences that you will have will be that of sports and spirituality, of culture and recreation, of joy and celebration for all. Since more than a year ago, a close-knit organizational team has been working for this matter. The “days of the Games” will be animated and accompanied by more than 150 generous youth volunteers who are willing to make these Games an unforgettable experience. They are “youth serving youth”. May their example be an encouragement for all of you so that you may also be at the service of each other.

The three little figures that comprise the logo are nice: a bigger one between the two smaller ones. They could symbolize your trainers, managers, the FMA and SDB who are in your midst in the sports fields and gyms, training, educating and accompanying you every day. They are your cheerers not only during games, but above all in your life, so that you may grow in love and hope, accepting Jesus in your life. Together with your trainers, managers, the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and Salesians, we assure you our love, affection and desire to accompany you in the journey of life towards a meeting with Jesus.

In his meeting with the managers and athletes of the Argentine and Italian rugby teams last November 22, 2013, Pope Francis has shared some very interesting ideas. I would like to share them with you as a conclusion of this message:

Rugby is a very nice sport, and I am saying this because this is how I see it: it is a tough sport, there is body contact but there is no violence, there is great loyalty and great respect. Playing rugby is tiring, it is not a leisurely walk! And I think this is useful to temper the character, the strength of willpower.

Another aspect that stands out is the balance between the group and the individual. There are the famous “scrums” that are at times shocking! The two teams engage, two compact teams push together against each other and balance each other out. And then there are individual moves, the sprints to score a try. That’s it, in rugby you run towards the “goal”! Such a beautiful word, so important. It makes us think about life, because our whole life moves toward a goal; and this search — the search for the goal — is strenuous, it demands a struggle, commitment. And it is important not to run alone! In order to arrive you must run together: the ball is passed from hand to hand and you move forward together until you reach the goal. Then you celebrate!

Perhaps my interpretation is not very technical but it is the way a bishop understands rugby! And as a bishop, I hope you put all of this into practice even off the pitch, practicing it in your lives.

Dear friends, I pray for you. Let us wish for each other that we may arrive at our Goal!    

Maria del Carmen Canales fma


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