We know how much DON BOSCO loved his pupils. Once they completed their educational programme followed them, welcomed them, guided them, admonished them when necessary, worried about their well-being, above all, he was concerned about their spiritual life.
During an occasion, speaking to the Past Pupils, DON BOSCO said “One thing I urge you, my dear children, more than any other and that is: wherever you might be, always show yourselves to be good Christians and Honest Citizens… Many of you already have families. So share the education you received in the oratory from Don Bosco, with your nearest and dearest”.
From a practical point of view, Don Bosco offered his youths the possibility of making the “education received” bear fruit, either in the committed group of Past Pupils, or in the Pious Union of Co-operators, in the priesthood or religious life, or in the Salesian Congregation. What is interesting to stress, was the importance he gave to the richness of education.
In answer to the deep love of Don Bosco, on the 24th June 1870, on the occasion of the feast of Saint John the Baptist and Don Bosco’s name-day feast, “a dozen of Old boys officially met; they chose as their leader the kind-hearted and generous Carlo Gastini, who always considered the Oratory to be second family; they were committed to find a greater number of members; then they appointed a commission to be better organised, for the future, the annual expressions of affection and gratitude.
Amongst the many initiatives achieved in direct contact with Don Bosco, for the benefit of the Old Boys, as they used to be called at that time, can recall a particularly significant one.
It was the year 1878, Don Bosco proposed a Mutual Aid Society to the Old Boys to face up to current difficulties, even financially. “Make sure this advantage is not limited only to yourself, but is extended to those youths of good conduct that you already know, or to all of you who are here at the meeting”. Carlo Gastini, Leader of the Old Boys, immediately took the organisation into hand, using a statute drawn up several years before by Don Bosco himself for an identical institution amongst young workers. Little by little, especially after the death of Don Bosco, the Old Boys organised themselves into local groups, unions and societies, right up to the proper organisation promoted by Don Filippo Rinaldi.
From 1901 onwards, different stages of organisations followed one another. The structure was formally created at the first International Congress of the Old Boys in 1911, as a Federation of the various local unions, clubs and societies. Until then they had been called “Old Boys”; from that date onwards, they were called “PAST PUPILS”. The creator and promoter of this initiative was Don Rinaldi himself. Thus, he was able to give an overall structure to a movement of affections, of gratitude, of life ideals, that made the ‘Education Received’ and experienced a more alive and working force.
The foundations of this organisation started by Don Bosco and completed by Don Rinaldi, the Association of the Past Pupils has been expanding ever more in all Salesian works through organised and coordinated structures. The various events held over the decade bear witness to this. The Past Pupils have always shown themselves to be affectionate and with an ever-greater commitment to operate in society.
The purpose of living this “Received Education” caused various local centres to emerge which were grouped into Provincial and National Federations. These, together, constitute the World Confederation which is structured body through which the sense of belonging to the Salesian family is expressed.
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