CHILE: Salesian missionaries celebrate 125 years providing education and social programs in Valparaíso
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries held a celebration in honor of the 125th anniversary of the Salesian Center in Valparaíso, a port city on Chile’s coast. Hundreds of people gathered in Valparaíso’s municipal theater on Oct. 11 to celebrate what has become a home, courtyard, school and parish to families in the region. An orchestra and a choir of students from the Salesian school and the school run by the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians from Valparaíso performed, accompanied by young dancers.
At the opening of the event, Father Nestor Muñoz, director of the Salesian Center, said, “We are educating with the heart. It is reason, religion and loving kindness. It is the permanent presence of Don Bosco among his young people, as a good shepherd who takes care and protects his flock. May these be followed by many more years, with new generations, new dreams and new challenges.”
Antonio Neira, director of the Salesian school, recalled the history of the center. He explained, “Since its origins as the School of Arts and Crafts Sant’Agostino in 1894, our school has committed lay people from different walks of life who have contributed with goods, knowledge and virtues to the formation of young people.”
Neira added, “Today after 125 years, the social and economic context has changed, but the needs of our children and young people are still pressing. The Salesian school has created and strengthened, over time, a solid educational pastoral proposal.”
Father José Lino and Fr. Muñoz presented plaques to the Salesians who through the years have passed through the school’s halls and classrooms, including Father Sergio Cuevas, formerly provincial and member of the General Council of the Congregation, Father Carlo Lira, current provincial, and Father Andrés Contreras, Father Heriberto Cabrera, Patricio Julio Orellana and post-novice Camilo Peña. Other awards were given to several prominent past pupils.
Salesian missionaries in the region provide primary and secondary education as well as vocational skills training so poor youth are able to gain the skills needed for employment. In addition, families are able to access Catholic services and have a communal place to meet and connect with their friends and neighbors.
According to the World Bank, Chile has a fairly low poverty rate of 14.4 percent. However, Chile struggles with high rates of income and education inequality. Salesian missionaries working in Chile focus their efforts on providing education and social services to poor and at-risk youth. At Salesian schools, universities and youth centers throughout the country, youth can access an education as well as the skills and resources necessary to break the cycle of poverty.
As a result of the vocational and technical education provided by Salesian programs, Chilean youth are more likely to find stable employment and improve their standard of living.
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Salesian Missions – Chile
World Bank – Chile