Don Antúnez in front of the statue of Don Bosco – Don Bosco Missions
To serve others, to help them, to create fellowship with them. Discover once again that those who give actually receive much more than they give. When he talks about the sales commitment in Ukraine, the voice is off don Daniel Antúnez cracks, but the story of pain never yields to grief as a goal in itself. For there is too much life in the eyes of men and women who are forced to look for a future away from home, among unknown but friendly people whom one cannot help but thank. These are the same eyes that the president of “Missioni Don Bosco” has carried in his heart since the day he crossed them on the border between Poland and Ukraine during his journey among the Salesian centers present in the attacked country.
“It was a shock to see mothers run away with a child in their arms and maybe just a bag for the most necessary things as luggage. I was struck by how willing people are to give up everything to save their children’s lives. I am Argentine Antúnez continues – and my country has gone through the Malvinas conflict and the crisis with Chile, but in Ukraine I have seen the fiercest war, the one that forces you to flee. “” Missioni Don Bosco “has eight works in Ukraine, all of which are “We asked ourselves what we could do, and we decided to make ourselves available to the people, the people who lived there, and the refugees who would arrive.”
A sales center in Ukraine – Don Bosco Missions
Specifically, it means repentance, like the family home in Lviv, whose 47 young guests and 5 educators have been transferred to Slovakia, while the palace, a four-storey building, today welcomes those hoping to cross the border. “The boys, who are between 5 and 15 years old, have been secured, also thanks to the commitment of Father Mickhail Chaban, the Provincial Sales Manager.” And immediately the spontaneous and organized solidarity machine was started, the latter above all thanks to the agreement with the State Center for Children and Families.
The same bond, in the form of hospitality and donations, which, albeit in different ways and styles, unites our country with the country under Russian attack. “In Ukraine we are about forty vendors, organized in a pre-province”, a smaller structure than the province. The local manager is father Mikajlo Chaban while the presence of “Don Bosco’s sons” relates to eight centers: Kiev, Lviv, Dnipro, Zhytomyr, Odessa, Korostyshiv, Peremyshlany and Bibrka.
To visit them means to immerse oneself in the concrete expression of a charisma, which above all is aimed at young people, at their human, educational and professional education. But today, everything gets a different taste, that the emergency situation, which one does not want to accept, becomes normality. To this end, Don Antúnez notes, every possible effort for prayer and attention to the little ones must be put in the service of peace. Thus, in the first half of March, the trip with his fellow brothers, Fr. Daniel Vidovic, became responsible for receiving refugees in Turin Valdocco, an opportunity to open the doors of the Salesian mother house to a large group of refugees. “We are currently hosting 42 people.
They are mostly mothers with their children, including a small one who is expected to be born in late April or early May. The older boy, on the other hand, is 11 years old. There are no fathers and husbands – Antúnez continues – because men aged 18 to 60 can not leave the country. Day after day, the welcome became a network, “in collaboration with the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, who welcomed eight people into the community in Cumiana, ten at the Agnelli Institute, four in Giaveno. We are all sales people, it’s important to work together” .
In fact, the tragic crisis associated with the war also resulted in an invitation to rediscover its own originality of testimony. The inauguration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin, for example, is reminiscent of devotion to Mary Help of Christians. “She is the mother of our congregation, Don Bosco said that if we pray to Mary for the help of Christians, the miracle is certain.” Therefore, welcoming refugees into the shadow of the Maria Basilica in Valdocco is of particular importance. “In the pain, in the suffering of war, which is the most terrible thing that exists, this experience of closeness and acceptance as a spring is an opportunity to revitalize our desire to sell.” Another aspect concerns the bond to the Pope, to whom Don Bosco asked for absolute obedience. “We work to meet the needs of food, home, people – concludes Fr Antúnez – and if the pope calls, if he asks us to help him achieve peace, we are where we go. With the responsibility and joy of put ourselves in the service of such a great good ‘.