Bratislava (Slovakia). From 31 October to 4 November 2018 the European Seminar of ACSSA (Association of Curators of Salesian History) was held at the Centrum Salvator in Bratislava, focused on presenting relevant Salesian Figures between XIX and XX centuries in Europe; various Salesians and Daughters of Mary Help of Christians who for formation, culture, habits, contexts of action, roles carried out in the Congregation for a brief or a long part of their lives who lived in a significant, innovative, or particular way, some specific aspect unique to the Salesian mission.
Excluded from the start were figures of saints, blessed, venerables, and servants of God who already enjoy a certain literature, and that of the Rector Majors, Mother Generals, and their Councilors who are already the object of previous studies. There emerged a gallery of 22 SDB (bishops, priests, brothers) and 12 FMA (missionary pioneers, teachers, assistants, animators, those in charge of foundations) who in the ‘originality’ of their activity offer other facets of what has been the life and vitality of this Salesian epoch in response to diverse political and educational contexts. The Countries represented by the FMA were Slovakia, Poland, Austria-Germany, Great Britain, Spain, Italy.
Being a Methodology Seminar, each speaker was able to become aware, personally and in dialogue, of the different ways of identifying the sources of study in various archives, to interrogate them intelligently, to analyze them in depth, and to interpret them without anachronisms or deforming alterations. Thus refined by sharing working methods, each one can improve the outcome of their research in view of the International Convention already set for November 2020.
At the beginning of the work, the presentation of both the historical ecclesial context of Slovakia from the first post-war period to 1990, and of the SDB, FMA, and VDB groups present in the Country, effectively introduced the participants to the environment, and also thanks to the witness of those who lived their consecration in hiding. Even the ‘free’ day with a visit to the ‘historical’ places of Šaštjn, Devjn and Vajnory, to the National Archives of Memory of Bratislava, and the DVD presentation on the testimonies of the religious in concentration camps, was lived in the same logic of coming into direct contact with places, situations, documents, people, and events of the past, all elements that constitute the ‘sources’ of any serious historical research.
The Bratislava seminar was inserted between a similar Seminar of ACSSA-ASIA SUD held in Hyderabad (India) from 22-24 June 2018, and the subsequent Seminars of ACASA ASIA EAST which will be held in Sam Phran (Thailand) from 10 to 15 February 2019, of the ACSSA-AFRICA of Nairobi (Kenya) from 4 to 10 March 2019, and of the ACSSA of the AMERICAS which will take place in Buenos Aires from 18 to 22 March 2019.
At the end of the four days, everyone’s satisfaction was expressed for the work done, the prospects of the immediate future (2020), the climate of collaboration that was established, as well as for the exquisite reception and constant accompaniment by the FMA and SDB in Bratislava.
Web Site https://acssaeuropa.wixsite.com/acssaeuropa2018 contains research information and the texts.