Dear Salesian Sisters and Brothers,
The last week was a very busy time as many of us participated and attended different events prepared for Mother Yvonne Reungoat, Mother General of the Salesian Sisters who was visiting the Western Province of the Salesian Sister. After spending several days right after Easter, with our brothers who were doing their annual retreat at St. Anthony’s Retreat, Three Rivers, I drove to Los Angeles (four and a half hours) to be present at several beautifully and well organized events to welcome Mother Yvonne.
On Thursday, April 25, I attended an inspirational evening prayer service at St. Mary’s Salesian Church in Boyle Heights prepared by the Sisters who live and work there. The evening prayer was enhanced with music and dancing led by young people. While we prayed the psalms either in song or reciting, we also praised God with dancing. It was very well done. After the prayer service, we walked over to St. Mary’s playground where tables had been set for those present to sit and have a simple meal offered to us by different cultural groups. A number of musical performances were also part of the evening schedule.
On Friday, April 26, the actual World Gratitude Day for Mother General, consisted of a more formal (and, yet very Western style relaxed meal) at a nearby Sports Center. Around 200 Sisters and friends of the Sisters were in attendance. It was a simple but very well done event which exuded a beautiful family spirit. Bishop Marc Trudeau joined us for lunch and later was the presider at the afternoon Mass, at 3pm at St. Dominic Savio. Again, the Mass, with beautiful music, the presence of many FMA Provincials, sisters from different provinces, a number of priests concelebrating and friends of the Sisters, made the occasion a very festive Thanksgiving celebration.
In the evening, we gathered at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Los Angeles, for another most impressive celebration. The parish is not a Salesian Parish but there are three sisters working there. Fr. Mario Torres (Diocesan) is the Pastor and loves the Salesians. He was extremely accommodating and welcoming. The Church was packed and he allowed the Sisters to use the Church to stage different musical performances and skits. He accompanied us the entire time welcoming all of us most graciously and making sure everything that was needed was available. After the performances ended and Mother General gave a few words of thanks, the crowd in the Church was led by Mariachis through a side street to the grammar school a block away where another crowd waited for us. They had decorated the playground with lights and streamers and tables for us to sit. Different finger foods were served and another series of musical performances were presented. Mother General was very much impressed with the spirit of family and welcoming she encountered. It was truly a graced moment for all of us!
On Saturday, I celebrated a Mass for the Sisters at St. John Bosco High School chapel and in the evening attended a very delicious meal prepared by the ex-alumnos which had been prepared for Mother Yvonne and the many sisters who were still present.
While the events were organized by the Salesian Sisters, I wish to thank them and all those who worked so hard for this very moving and special time together with Mother Yvonne. It involved many hands and teams of people willing to do their part. We were all re-energized and strengthened in our commitment to build up the Salesian Family and reach out to the young. Many Sisters came from other provinces and Fr. Tim Zak, SDB, Provincial of the New Rochelle Province, also flew in from the East. It is amazing how by simply being hospitable and allowing others to use our facilities, beautiful things can happen. Many people are willing to do the hard work; all they ask is our openness, presence and hospitality. It was also wonderful to see the FMA and many SDBs collaborate and accompany our sisters in these days of celebration. Many thanks to Mother Yvonne for her serene and joyful presence among us. She took her time with each and everyone she encountered, sometimes frustrating a little those who had prepared a strict schedule to be followed. Everywhere she went, she offered a beautiful and welcoming smile and never tired in encouraging us to be Family and work together as a sign of unity and of the Kingdom of God. She stressed our style of holiness through cheerfulness and joy and being open to the young and what they can offer us. And, a special THANKS to Sr. Rosann Ruiz, Provincial, and the Sisters of the Province of Mary Immaculate, for inviting us to their events and making us feel very much part of the Family.
For the next two weeks I plan on staying in the San Francisco area, hopefully, catching up on paperwork that has been put aside in order to be present at some of the above mentioned events and other meetings.
Fr. Maria Arokiam is now making his Visitation at Don Bosco Hall, Berkeley. After his stay there he will travel to Stockton and finish his visitation with the Provincial House the week of May 5. He will spend a few days writing his final report and addressing the Directors and Pastors and all confreres wishing to attend on Saturday, May 11th in Richmond. We are grateful for his visit and his presence among us. We look forward to his final observations and encouragement. Our Province has much to offer and we are blessed with very generous collaborators. But, we must dream of what is possible and how we can move into the future, working together and encouraging one another.
Tomorrow is May 1st. May 1st has traditionally been dedicated to St. Jospeh the Worker. In recent years this feast has been given an “optional memorial” status. For us Salesians St. Joseph holds a very special place. The feast of St. Jospeh the worker was always dedicated to the Salesian Brother (Coadjutor Brother). He was a model and inspiration of hard work, practical and great passion of love for Jesus and Mary. He was also the one who accompanied Jesus in his development and growth as a human person and he was always the protector of the Holy Family. On this day we congratulate our Salesian Brothers around the world but, especially, in our Province. We thank them for the richness of their Salesian vocation which they offer the Congregation, which without them, we would not truly be a Salesian Congregation as Don Bosco envisioned it. We thank the Brother for their hard work and their assistance in building up the Province and helping contribute to the Salesian Charism and Family Spirit. Happy Feast day to all our Brothers! Be assured of my prayers and let us also pray for more vocations to the Salesian Brotherhood.
With warm regards and gratitude,