By Fr. Gael Sullivan, SDB
(Salesian Generalate – Rome, Italy) – A couple of months ago I had a call from Fr. Ted who in formed me that Fr. Tim Ploch had requested that I come to work for five weeks this summer in the office of the InterAmerican Region Councilor at the Pisana in Rome. Since the invitation was for a limited designated time period I willingly accepted to be of service to our region.
I left San Francisco on May 24th under Mary Help of Christians’ patronage and arrived in Rome on May 25th. I began working in the office almost immediately after a day of adjusting to the time change. Fr. Tim’s office suite consists of three rooms: his office, a file room, and a secretary’s office. I was installed in the secretary’s office. I began to work on helping Fr. Tim prepare the materials to present to the General Council on the consultation done in one of provinces for the naming of a new provincial. From a distance we all have a concept of how this is done, but I learned that the amount of study of the confreres’ thoughts from the individual consultation sheets, statistics, and other considerations taken into account quite surprised me. I have a greater respect for the whole process that I did before. I also began to go through the region’s archives. There has not actually been a secretary for many years and the archives needed a lot of attention. Weeding out duplicate information and outdated materials took a lot of time, and filling in newly labeled folders finally got done.
On Sunday, June 19th, Fr. Tim. Fr. Jim Heuser (at a Formation meeting at the Pisana), and I met with Louis & Sheila Kun who were passing through Rome. We had a lovely evening meal in the slow Roman style. I have had the opportunity to meet and get to know the different members of the General Council on a personal level that makes them more than a face in a picture hanging on the wall. I have been impressed by their friendliness and approachability. The Vice Director of the community is Fr. José Pastor whom I first met as an eight year old at the oratory in Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic in my first year of practical training. We had not seen each in forty years. This is especially true of Fr. Ángel, our Rector Major. He is certainly an image of the smiling Don Bosco of today while communicating clearly what’s on his mind. The warmth of the SDB community here at
the Pisana has made for an enjoyable experience. Having said all that, I look forward to returning home to Sts. Peter and Paul Church in cool San Francisco just as Rome is warming up with summer heat.