Dear Salesian Sisters and Brothers,
I am presently in Laredo, Texas for two days visiting my family and the Parish of San Luis Rey. I came to San Antonio, Texas last Friday, after our Board Meeting at Don Bosco Tech. The FMA Sisters had invited me to preside at their Jubilee celebration which took place on Saturday. I am grateful for the invitation and for the service of the Sisters celebrating their Jubilees. Tomorrow I return to Los Angeles.
This Sunday, we begin our second annual retreat at San Juan Bautista. Fr. David O’Malley will be preaching our retreat. We wish to welcome him to our province. Please keep in prayer our brothers in retreat. I will be also be there.
Next Saturday, August 3, I will fly back out to San Antonio for Sr. Sydney Moss, FMA, final vows ceremony at the FMA Provincial House. The Mass for Sr. Sydney’s final vows will be on Monday, August 5th. We wish to congratulate Sr. Sydney on this very significant step in her religious life. May God continue to bless her with the grace of perseverance and fidelity. May she find happiness and fulfillment in her service to the young and to her sisters.
This year, CMSM (Conference of Major Superiors of Men) will host their annual conference in San Antonio, Texas. It turned out to be a blessing since I am able to participate in Sr. Sydney’s final vows ceremony and attend the Conference which begins that evening in San Antonio. Fr. Tim Zak, Provincial from the New Rochelle Province, will also be there. The theme this year will be “DISCERNING OUR COLLECTIVE WITNESS.” There will be a panel of young religious and major superiors who will lead the discussion on the future of our witness in religious life.
I will return to Los Angeles for the profession ceremony of the first vows of Leo Imbert and Kris Tran which will take place on Thursday, August 15th, at 5:30 pm. Again, we congratulate our two brother novices who will make their first vows and be part of our professed family of SDBs.
In my homily for the FMA Jubilee Mass in San Antonio, I mentioned the story of Steve Jobs and his commencement speech made in 2005 at Stanford University. His address is quite simple and you can find it on YouTube. Steve reflects on his life and how he connected the dots of his life. But, you cannot connect the dots forward but only backwards. Steve Jobs talks about being adopted, his quitting college and the experiences that later turned out to be beneficial for his work in founding his company, Apple. He mentions building up his Apple company from his parents garage to a $2 billion dollar company with 4,000 employees. He was fired from his own company by the Board and speaks of his humiliation, his feeling lost and wondering what he would now do. But, he always followed his heart, his passion and his intuition and that saved him. He started anew. In this part of his life, looking back, Jobs reflected that if he had not been fired, he would never have started NeXT and Pixar, made Toy Story the first computer animated movie and would never have met the love of his life who later became his wife. He connected the dots backward and realized that he had been guided by some “divine source” (my words) which led him to discover new possibilities. Jobs also spoke of death and his cancer diagnosis and how facing death is the best tool for helping us strip ourselves of what is not necessary and accept the important and meaningful values of our lives. Kiekegaard, a Dutch Philosopher once wrote: “we live our lives forward but understand backwards.” Just like Steve Jobs, we also look back at our lives and the many twists and turns our lives have taken and we see how God was always instrumental in guiding and leading us. There were times when we were not sure where we were going or how what we faced made any sense. God led others to guide us and be a sign of strength and encouragement.
I think of Don Bosco, when in the later years of his life, celebrating Mass, he stopped 15 times, moved with emotion, because he was connecting the dots. He saw his dream of nine and his encounter with Bartholomew Garelli at the Church of St. Francis on December 8, 1841, his encounters with men like Don Calosso, Don Guala, Don Cafasso, the influence of his Mother, Mama Margarita and many others. He learned to love and to come to the realization that God loved him unconditionally. He learned how to bring that love and sense of God’s gracious presence to the young, to be a sign and bearer of God’s love to the young, especially, those who were poor and disadvantaged. In the end, Don Bosco saw that it was God and Mary who did it all. He finally saw what they had done through all the twists and turns of his life and the people God put in his path. And, he was filled with gratitude as he connected the dots. “She has done everything,” were his final words.
These days, as we attend a retreat, take some days of rest or prepare for the feast of the Assumption, let us take time to connect the dots and be grateful for all God has done. Like Don Bosco, may we also say, “She has done everything.”
With warm regards and gratitude,