Interview with Mr Michal Hort, Past Pupil of Don Bosco
President of the World Confederation (2015-2021)
Slovakia, 11 June 2021 — The interview below was actually conducted in May, but given the upcoming Regional online meeting of the Past Pupils of Don Bosco this month, now is an appropriate time to publish it.
Can you share briefly about your life journey with Don Bosco, your job and family?
My name is Michal Hort, I am 43 years old and married. With my wife Martina we have 3 kids: Therese, Philip and Matthew, who are 10, 8 ad 4 years old respectively. I am an entrepreneur, with a consultancy company in the sector of EU funding. My company currently has 10 employees and we help our clients to get grants for their development and investment projects.
I grew up in a family of 5 children (being the oldest), where both my parents are past pupils of Don Bosco. My father always taught me to help the Salesians. I studied at the Salesian high school in Sastin (Slovakia) and then at the Bologna University (Italy). So, I have been raised and educated by both my parents and Salesians since my childhood. And for that I’m very grateful. In 2015 I was elected the president of the World confederation of the Past Pupils of Don Bosco.
What does it mean for you now to be a Past Pupil of Don Bosco?
For me, being a Past Pupil of Don Bosco means everything. Education received is for me my way of life and my life plan. Now as I grow older the words “good Cristian and upright Citizen” are the summary of what I want to be. I want to point out that helping others thanks to the education received by the Salesians and talents and skills given by God is what defines my everyday actions. Or at least I try my best. And this is for me the definition of a Past Pupil of Don Bosco.
As World Association President can you share some good local Association practices?
Before answering this question, I would like to underline one important fact. Past Pupils are a worldwide movement (we estimate more than 100 countries, more than 30 million people). There are some 14,000+ Salesians (SDB) all over the world. There are more than 3,500 schools and almost 4,000 Salesian works in all 5 continents. Past pupils of Don Bosco are all those lay people who have passed through the ‘hands of the Salesians’ not only in the Schools, but also in Youth Centres, Oratories, Parishes or Social works.
The movement is celebrating 150 years this year. It’s a “sleeping giant” that has a potential to do a lot of good. We just need a lot of prayers with good tools and projects to help this giant awake. There are good examples of best practices on our Strategic plan 2015-2021 and on our web page. There are many available on our web page (www.exallievi.org). I would point out the educational courses for high school students on future employment; or the Past Pupil Entrepreneurs Business Club; or Family Weekends for the families of Past Pupils of Don Bosco and so on. Bets to see the web page and our strategic plan.
We are preparing to launch the Association. Which focus would you recommend for us?
Every country is different, but I would suggest you follow three steps:
- Appoint a Salesian (=Delegate) and one lay person (Leader) to start with to be responsible for launching the Association. Then this will create a small team (preparatory team) for the Past Pupils Association. The World Confederation can help a lot – by sending you a simple 1- step brochure on how to proceed when establishing a new Federation. You may request this from our Secretary General: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Start gathering Past Pupils by making a list of addresses (also virtually since we live in the era of social media, messaging) – use this to gather past pupils and let them know they are past pupils of Don Bosco.
- Define a plan what to do, based on the 6-year Strategic Plan of the World Confederation;
What can the Past Pupils Association do for its members?
Many things, but basically inspire them and help them grow as Past Pupils of Don Bosco: help them continue to follow Don Bosco in their lives by gathering them, creating a community with the same values, priorities and goals. Give them friends and a group of people that can work and act together sharing plans, problems and dreams; we live in the era of “crowd solving” and “crowd sharing”. For that you need a “crowd” – a community. The Past Pupils movement is the right place to be.
What do you expect from the members who are willing to join, and what not to expect?
I would expect simply ‘to be a past pupil of Don Bosco’. That means: use your professional skills and talents to help each other, help the Salesians and the society they live in. To be active citizens and Christians. For example: Are you a teacher? Can you help in the oratory or create an education group for the children of the Past Pupils? Or: are you a musician? Can you create a choir or band that sings in the Church during Mass and Salesian events? Or are you an accountant or lawyer? Can you help Salesians in your oratory with book keeping or legal issues? And so on. In this way also other benefits can be achieved. In this way, our Salesians themselves will have more time to stay with the young people, dedicate more time for souls because we past pupils will deal with the “secular” issues;
Your message to those who are willing to join the Past Pupils of Don Bosco Association?
No matter what, being with Don Bosco is the right thing to do. Our way to reach heaven is not a riddle we can’t solve. It has been solved 150 years ago by Don Bosco giving us the scheme for a fruitful and happy life. In Eastern Europe we spent many decades under oppression by Communism that did not allowed us to live our faith fully and love of Don Bosco. Nowadays there are different threats to face and fight. Especially ignorance and disinterest. Within the Past pupils of Don Bosco Movement it is easier to fight and live our lives to the fullest.
How could you sum up the identity of the Salesian Past Pupil in just one line?
Be a good Christian and Upright Citizen: it’s short, but complete. Think about it!
This interview was requested by the Hungarian Don Bosco Past Pupils, who are about to launch their National Federation. We are grateful to the World Confederation Secretary for making this interview available in English.
Related news articles:
- AustraLasia 5407: June 24, 2020 – 150th Anniversary Interview with Mr. Michal Hort
- AustraLasia 5540 (V) Christmas 2020 and DB Past Pupils