North American Salesian Network (NASN) held its annual meeting from Monday, April 29, 2019 to Wednesday, May 1, 2019 at De Sales Center in Brooklyn, Michigan, which is also the site of the novitiate of Oblates of St. Francis de Sales (www.desales.org, 1124 Ventura Dr, Brooklyn, MI 49230).
NASN, made up of groups that share in the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, facilitates the sharing of Salesian resources and promotes initiatives aimed at “refreshing our North American culture with the spirit of St. Francis de Sales and our Founders” (Mission Statement).
In view of the four hundredth anniversary of the death of St. Francis de Sales in 2022, NASN members have been discussing the possibility of Salesian institutes and associations requesting that the Holy Father to issue an encyclical on St. Francis de Sales. Fr Joe Boenzi presented this suggestion to a committee of SDB general councilors organized to discuss the quadricentenary. Through them the Rector Major and the General Council have accepted the proposal and are considering making a formal request of the Pope. Now, NASN members will consult their organizations to see whether their leadership would prefer asking the SDB Rector Major to co-sign the request or to make separate requests.
As part of the effort to extend awareness of St. Francis de Sales NASN has begun plans to canvas Catholic media outlets – TV and radio stations – on what programs they already have and would be willing to produce on the saint or Salesian topics. It has also started to compile a list of dioceses, parishes and schools who have St. Francis de Sales as their patron. NASN will then provide them with the list of resources that will help them capitalize on the quadricentenary.
Fr. Kevin Nadolski, O.S.F.S, Vice President for Mission of DeSales University in Center Valley, PA, attended the meeting and participated in the discussion on drawing attention to St. Francis de Sales. The university hosts The Salesian Center for Faith and Culture.
Ann Williams of Visitation Salesian Network, an association of lay men and women in Visitation Sisters schools, distributed “Salesian Formation Development Chart” which is a syllabus for the Salesian formation of faculty and staff. Fr. John Puntino shared San Francisco’s “Province System of Salesian Schools” which contains standards and benchmarks for SDB Salesian schools. Both of these tools are works in progress and of great interest to NASN members.
Through the initiative of Fr. John Graden, O.S.F.S. from Embraced By God, an Oblate center for Salesian resources and ministries, NASN members are developing reflections on how Salesian values can enrich North American culture. This, too, is a work in progress.
NASN members recognize the desirability of hiring a coordinator to accomplish its goals, particularly in light of the quadricentenary. Each member will approach his or her leadership to present the job description, requesting suggestions and seeking a commitment to help fund the position.
This year’s annual meeting also included discussions on the role NASN could play in the future of Embraced By God and on promoting the use of St. Francis de Sales’ Introduction to the Devout Life as a tool for those who feel called to make a private vow.
Next year’s meeting will take place at the same location from Monday to Wednesday following Divine Mercy Sunday, April 20-22, 2020.