Dear Salesian Sisters and Brothers,
On Monday, May 13th, the Salesian World celebrated the feast of St. Mary Dominica Mazzarello, who, along with Don Bosco, founded the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians or as they are more commonly known, the Salesian Sisters. We wish the Salesian Sisters a “Happy Feast Day” and pray that God will continue to bless them with many good and holy vocations to their Institute.
On Monday, the Salesian Sisters of Bellflower, invited all the Salesians of the block, along with the other Sisters in the Los Angeles, for an evening of prayer, food (barbecue) and fellowship. I was fortunate to be in Los Angeles and able to participate in this family celebration. The Sisters and Postulants prepared the food. Many thanks to the FMA for their hospitality and for their Salesian witness. When Mother Yvonne came for her visit to the province of Mary Immaculate (Western Province) a few weeks ago, she was encouraged to see that for the most part, there is a good relationship with the SDBs and FMAs. That sign of unity is very important, not only because Don Bosco encouraged unity among the Salesian Family, but also because it is a powerful sign of unity in our world which many times seems to stress division, differences and the building of walls. We also thank the Sisters for their dedicated work and ministry to the young and to the poor. After the barbecue, a special Mass had been scheduled at St. Dominic Savio, remembering and celebrating the life of Sr. Carmen Palacios, FMA, who died a few weeks ago from liver cancer. Sr. Carmen(71) had served at Savio for several years and was well known for her organizational skills and passion for the mission of Don Bosco and Mary Mazzarello to the young. The Church was full and beautiful testimonies of Sr. Carmen’s life were shared.
Last Saturday I was blessed to have attended the Gala for Salesian High School, Los Angeles. It was held at the Biltmore Millennial Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Over 300 people participated. One of the honorees was the Salesian Society who has been present at the school since its beginning. The evening was beautifully organized with much participation from the young people, from welcoming (Lettermen Society) to having young people sit our tables and several of them giving very powerful testimonies on how the school has impacted them. There was a very friendly and welcoming atmosphere with a strong Salesian touch. Not only were the Salesians honored but there was also a plug to help renovate the Salesian quarters (house) which lacks some basic necessities like heating and air-conditioning. I wish to thank the President, Mr. Alex Chacon and his team for putting together such a wonderful event which touched our hearts. I was also impressed with the donation of a million dollars given towards an endowment fund to help poorer kids attend Salesian. It was a great tribute of the love people have for the school and the Salesian mission. I was also impressed by the great effort expressed by the school administrators to reach out to the poor and underprivileged. THANK YOU for a wonderful evening.
Next Monday, May 20th, our two brothers who are in their Post Novitiate in Orange, NJ, will be graduating. Br. Damien Ho and Br. Quang Nguyen will be graduating: Br. Damien with a Masters in Education and Br. Quang with a BA in Religious Studies. I had hoped to have been able to fly back East for the graduating ceremonies but my schedule did not permit it. So, in the name of the Salesians from our Province, I wish to extend my heartfelt congratulations to both of them and wish them all the best with their future assignments. May God bless them and given them the graces necessary for their perseverance and effectiveness in their mission to the young as SDBs.
In a few weeks, we hope to publish the assignments for next year’s pastoral year. I am still finalizing some changes. I ask for your prayers as we continue to discern next year’s assignments. I thank my brothers for their availability and example. Don Bosco stressed Obedience as an essential vow of our Congregation. The spirit of availability to go where needed or for the sake of the Mission with a cheerful and willing spirit was a quality that Don Bosco emphasized. It gives us the freedom to go where we can serve for the sake of the Salesian Family and Province.
Finally, today, May 15th, is the beginning of the Novena in preparation for the great feast of Mary Help of Christians. We are a Marian Congregation. From the very beginning of Don Bosco’s life (the dream at the age of nine), he saw Mary as a Guide, Mother and Teacher. Don Bosco attributed much, if not all of what he accomplished, to the work and blessings of Mary. At the end of his life, as he was dying, Don Bosco is know to have said, “She has done it all.” The Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Turin is a tribute to his great love and devotion to her. Don Bosco taught his boys and Salesians to pray to her often and invoke her protection and intercession. He gave us that beautiful blessing, the Blessing of Mary Help of Christians, which I noticed Fr. Maria Arokiam often used in his travels as he said good-by to different communities. I encourage all of us to keep these nine days with special care as we prepare to celebrate the feast of Mary. May She, our Mother and Teacher, continue to be with us. May we recognize her presence and thank her for her powerful assistance. “She has done it all.”
We wish to thank Fr.Maria Arokiam Kanaga for his visit to our province. The Extraordinary Visitation was concluded last Saturday, May 11, with Fr.Maria Arokiam’s final report. I will use some of the future InTouch letters to speak more on his comments and reflections. But, I wish to THANK him for his brotherly and Salesian presence among us. It was good to have him with us, spend time knowing this part of the world, encourage us and leave us with some good reflections for our future. May God bless him and Mary Help of Christians always guide and keep him.
With warm regards and grateful hearts,