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UNITED STATES: Salesian Missionaries Reflect on Pope Francis’ Message of Providing Hope and Opportunity to Those in Poverty

(MissionNewswire) During his speech to Congress as part of a visit to the United State in September, Pope Francis said, “I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty. They too need to be given hope. The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its cause.”

Pope Francis has nurtured close ties to Salesian missionaries and priests throughout his life and recently praised them for their work bringing hope and relief to those living in poverty. The Pope was baptized by a Salesian priest, educated in a Salesian school and encouraged in his vocation by the same Salesian priest who introduced his parents to one other.

On June 24, prior to his U.S visit, the Pope sent a letter to Father Ángel Fernández Artime, the Salesian Rector Major in Italy, in honor of St. John (Don) Bosco’s bicentennial birthday on August 16. In the letter, Pope Francis praised the work of Don Bosco and the Salesian Family and highlighted Don Bosco’s call to service and his work with poor and disadvantaged youth. Pope Francis also praised Salesian efforts in establishing education and social development services that are open to all youth regardless of language, race, culture or religion.

On the historic occasion of Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S., Salesian missionaries celebrate the powerful bond that unites them on behalf of the poor, the disenfranchised and the exploited.

“Salesian missionaries are dedicated to caring for poor youth through programs that are innovative in design and customized to meet local needs,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Missionaries focus on helping young people become self-sufficient through education and skills training that leads to employment, which in turn builds strong communities.”

To date, more than 3 million youth have participated in Salesian programs. Through these programs, more than 30,000 Salesian missionaries are working in more than 130 countries around the globe providing poor youth and their families access to education, workforce development, humanitarian relief, youth clubs, health services, feeding programs and more. Salesian missionaries educate more than 1 million youth in more than 5,300 primary and secondary schools and nearly 1,000 vocational, technical and agricultural schools.

Salesian missionaries are widely considered one of the largest private providers of vocational and technical training in the world. Programs focus on helping vulnerable youth in some of the poorest places on the planet by providing access to educational opportunities that match local workforce development needs. Through Salesian skills training programs, youth are able to gain the skills necessary to find and retain stable employment. This work helps grow local economies and breaks the cycle of poverty for poor youth and their families.

“Salesian missionaries are often faced with challenges when providing programs in some of the most difficult environments, especially after natural disasters and in regions plagued by conflict and war, but despite hardship, their mission to bring hope and opportunity to those living in poverty remains strong,” adds Fr. Hyde.

With more than 20,000 people in attendance, Pope Francis celebrated mass at New York’s Madison Square Garden during his visit. Among those present included priests from three Salesian communities and Salesian Brother Salvatore Sammarco who led a team of day laborers to make the Pope’s chair for the mass. In addition, some of the linens used during the mass were made by women from the Salesian parish of Corpus Christi in Port Chester, New York.



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