75-year history of “Borgo Ragazzi Don Bosco”

Italy – 13 April 2023
Italy – 75-year history of "Borgo Ragazzi Don Bosco"

(ANS – Rome) – Seventy-five years ago, in the spring of 1948, the Salesians of Rome led the caravan of boys who from Via Marsala moved along Via Prenestina until they came to populate those courtyards and sheds that still today welcome, educate and give attention to hundreds of needy and at-risk minors. From that moment, the “Borgo dei Ragazzi di Don Bosco” was born, a small town in which the children and their growing needs were the focus of the attention and care of so many Salesians and people.

Those youngsters were the orphans taken in by the Salesians, who after World War II had responded diligently to the appeal of Pope Pius XII, who recommended the very sons of Don Bosco to care for the forsaken and lonely youth of the Capital.

A few months later, in L’Osservatore Romano, and precisely on July 19, 1948, on the day after the official inauguration of the Borgo Ragazzi Don Bosco by Card. Pizzardo wrote: “Who would have thought, a few years ago, that the vast land surrounding Fort Prenestino would have become a haven for a multitude of children and that the sheds, set up by the soldiers and the vast canopies storage of fodder and materials, would have been changed into a church, a theater, playgrounds, and happy reunions? Yet, Providence, which jokes with the designs of men has performed this miracle, and while not changing the old fort its purpose has ennobled it: defense yes, but the spiritual defense of so many boys against the rampant forces of evil, against the pitfalls and corruption of the streets, against neglect and social decay.” An apt reflection, which also turned into a prophecy for the years to follow.

For his part, a witness of the first hour, Fr. Luigi Pace, who was the Economer of the Borgo’s first years, described that reality as follows: “Whoever goes to the Borgo for a brief visit, immediately notices that he is in an environment where Salesian life is lived from morning to night, as in so many other Salesian works. However, one notices here something unique that makes the Borgo different from all other institutes. Something that makes it immediately appealing to the visitor, who leaves in admiration and satisfaction. […] The question arises: what is the secret of this vitality? What are the elements that combine, besides the Lord’s grace and Don Bosco’s Preventive System, to produce such abundant fruits of good? Two elements give us its true physiognomy: 1. An unpretentious modesty; 2. The spirit of family that reigns in it.”

In these 75 years, Providence has manifested itself in so many ways and in so many people: Salesians, collaborators, benefactors, so much so that from the very beginning the “Don Bosco Children’s Village” was called “the work of Providence in Rome for so many boys.”

And the present is built on the wake of this rich history. Even today the “Borgo Ragazzi Don Bosco” remains faithful to its original vocation, that of being a home for so many children and young people who have had fewer opportunities in life, to accompany them in discovering their riches, to learn a job, to fulfill their dreams of a good life.

“We see the future unfolding before us with partly similar and partly different needs. The children change and their conditions change, their practical needs change, their backgrounds change, their desire to build a worthy and happy future does not change. Our commitment is to continue to help them in doing that,” say the Salesians in charge of Borgo Ragazzi Don Bosco today.

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