Provincial Letter: July 3rd, 2019

Dear Salesian Sisters and Brothers,

Last night I flew in from New York, after attending the “Forming The Formators” Workshop being hosted at the Marian Shrine, a retreat house staffed by the Salesians, in Stony Point, New York.  The workshop began Friday morning and ended Sunday afternoon with Mass presided by Fr. Tim Zak, Provincial of the New Rochelle Province.  Overall, 90 people attended , with 23 being from the West Provinces of the SDB and FMA.  The workshop attendees included SDBs, FMAs and Cooperators who are involved in the formation of the Cooperators.   On behalf of the Western Province, I wish to thank Fr. Tom Dunne, SDB and Sr. Denise Sickinger, FMA who were the main organizers and hosted us during the weekend.   As always, there are many who work as part of a bigger team to support the program.   My thanks to Mike and Judy Alvarez, Elizabeth Gamarra, Sr. Guadalupe Medina, FMA and Mikey Vera (all from the West) who helped give presentations and were a major part of the planning committee which also helped run the weekend conference.   And, a big THANKS to all who donated time, money and effort in working behind the scenes to prepare necessary materials and create a welcoming environment.IMG_1822IMG_1810 (1)The Cooperators workshop’s main purpose was to gather delegates of our Cooperators center and those involved in the formation of the Cooperators and present them with resources and educational aids which can be used to form our Cooperators today.   A good portion of the weekend was spent reviewing the Compendium to the Project of Apostolic Life or more commonly known as the PVA (Progetto di Vita Apostolica ).   The PVA is the book that contains the renewed Statutes and the Regulations of the Association of Salesian Cooperators.  More than a book of rules, it is called a “book of life,” which accompanies the Salesian Cooperator throughout his/her life.   It is guarantees fidelity to the original inspiration of Don Bosco and assures our fidelity to the Gospel and the teachings of the Catholic Church.  It defines the Charismatic identity of the Cooperator and reminds them of their Salesian roots and Don Bosco’s wish for this Association.    A Cooperator is not the same as a member of a Third Order as we see in some Congregations.  The Third Orders stress a particular style of prayer and insistence on devotions.   For Don Bosco, the Salesian Cooperator, while living our Salesian Spirit of prayer, puts greater emphasis on the apostolic work and charitable acts performed by its members, especially, toward the young and the poor.  For Don Bosco, a Cooperator is a true Salesian in the world.  Don Bosco desired that the “Cooperator be a passionate collaborator of God through the great choices of the Salesian mission:  the family, the young, education, the Preventive System, and commitment in social and political environments, giving privileged attention and openness of heart to the poor, the excluded, the ill and the marginalized of every kind.” (Pascual Chavez’s introduction to the PVA).  I pray that the number of Cooperators may increase in our province and continue to work side by side with us SDBs and FMAs in the vast mission to the young, especially, those most excluded and poor.

Next Sunday, the Provincial Council and I will spend a week of planning and preparation at Villa Maria, Santa Cruz.  Following the Extraordinary Visitation by Fr. Maria Arokiam Kanaga and our Provincial Chapter in Three Rivers in June, the provincial council has much work to do in order to begin implementing what has been mandated to us from the Chapter members.   While the setting is very relaxing (by the ocean) and the retreat center run by the Holy Names Sisters, has always offered us a special environment for work, prayer and relaxation, we will spend long hours meeting, reflecting and writing out projects for the future of our province.  Please keep us in your prayers.   May the Holy Spirit continue to inspire and strengthen us.

Most of our summer ministries began their programs this week.   Some were already in session before this week.   To all of you working in our summer ministries, I wish you my best and send you blessings.  Be assured of my prayers for all our staff members and for the young who will be attending our summer ministries.   May Mary Help of Christians protect and keep you safe.

The Salesian Sisters of the San Antonio Province have invited me to preside at their Jubilee Mass on July 20, 2019.   The Mass and reception will take place at St. Paul Catholic Community Center in San Antonio, Texas.  So, I will be flying to San Antonio on Friday, July 19, attend the Jubilee, spend a few days at home and visit our Salesian Parish of San Luis Rey in Laredo.   I will return for the beginning of our second Salesian Retreat beginning on Sunday, July 28;  then, fly out to San Antonio again for the Salesian Sisters Final Vows ceremony and the Extraordinary National Convocation for Major Superiors of Men being hosted in San Antonio, Texas this year.  This year’s theme is: Discerning Our Collective Witness.  There will be a dialogue (panel) of Major Superiors and Young Religious and reflections on Religious Life today and ahead.   I have not always attended the annual CMSM conferences due to conflicts with SDB retreats.   This year’s topics seem important.  Plus, my schedule permitted me to be at the July/August retreats and attend the San Antonio conference.  After the conference I will be back in Los Angeles for the Mass of First Professions of Leo Imbert and Kris Tran.  We wish to Congratulate our two novices and promise them our prayers and accompaniment.

Please keep all of these wonderful events in your prayers.  May you continue to enjoy your summer experience and, hopefully,  find some time and space for rest and renewal.

With warm regards and gratitude,