Dear Salesian Sisters and Brothers,
I hope your Labor Day weekend activities were fruitful, enjoyable and relaxing. Our communities gathered for a barbecue meal and time together, in the Northern and Southern areas of California. Those in Northern California gathered at Don Bosco Hall, Berkeley and those in the South gathered at St. John Bosco, Bellflower. Since I was already in the Southland, I joined the southern communities for their barbecue in Bellflower. The Salesian Sisters from Southern California were also invited. Thank you to the communities that hosted and prepared all the ingredients for a good barbecue social. In the Southland, we also welcomed Fr. Ivo Coelho, delegate for Formation for the Congregation. Fr. Ivo was on his way to Costa Rica for the gathering of all the
Formation Delegates of our Inter-American region. He made a special visit to Los Angeles to learn more about our prenovitiate program at De Sales Hall and dialogue with the prenovices and the formation team. We enjoyed his short visit. He had some good insights for formation to share with us. Thank you for your visit! All provincial delegates for formation of our Inter-American region will also attend the same meeting organized by Fr. Ivo Coelho and his team in Costa Rica. Because Fr. John Itzaina is still recovering from his open heart surgery, I have asked Fr. Joe Nguyen, director of novices, to take his place. The Regional meetings will take place from September 8 – 13. Let us accompany Joe Nguyen with our prayers for a safe and worthwhile trip. And, thanks to Fr. Joe for saying, yes. And, let us continue to pray for Fr. John Itzaina’s full recovery. During these months of September and October, at least in our Salesian Inter-American Region,the Congregation gathers the delegates of formation, the delegates for youth ministry, the provincial treasurers, the delegates for social communication, the delegate for the Salesian Family, the delegates for the Missions and the provincials for their annual meetings. These meetings usually take place separately and in different countries. This year the following meetings have been scheduled:
Provincial Economers: Toronto, Canada September 2-6: Fr. Tho Bui, SDB
Delegates for Formation: Costa Rica, September 8-13: Fr. Joe Nguyen, SDB
Delegates for Salesian Family: Rome, Italy September 15-23: Fr. Joe Farias, SDB
Meeting for Option for the Poor: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic September 6-16: Juan Carlos Montenegro
Delegates for Social Communication: Asunción, Paraguay September 18-22: Andres Neria Delegates for Youth Ministry: Sau Paulo, Brazil October 16-22: TBD
Delegates for Mission Animation: Sau Paulo, Brazil October 16-22: Juan Carlos Montenegro
Provincials: Ecuador, Quito October 20-27: Fr. Ted Montemayor, SDB
As you can see, the Congregation keeps connected with the provinces and departments of each province by the regional meetings organized each year. It is a way to animate the Congregation. Please keep us all in prayer as we travel and may our gatherings, (wherever they may be) help us return to the province with new ideas and energies to animate our departments here at home. In last week’s InTouch letter, I mentioned our dialogue and process with some of our young men in formation. The question asked was, “what do we want to dominate the narrative of religious Salesian life over the next three to ten years?” As individual Salesians and as a province I encourage us to continue to reflect deeply on this question. So many other issues dominate our time, energy and thoughts. They say that sometimes we spend 90% of our time on 3% of the issues. While some of these issues are important and, at times, urgent, we need to be more disciplined in not allowing those issues to dominate the narrative. We have been called by God to be consecrated Salesian religious and to be primarily, signs and bearers of His love for the young. We are called to be signs and we have chosen to follow the call. We wish to follow Christ and Don Bosco in order to be witnesses to the young of how much God loves them. Because of what is emerging for religious life, we need to ask some the following questions:
1. What needs to be created anew and implemented?
2. What needs to be continued and strengthened?
3. What needs to be reframed and redesigned?
4. What needs to be incrementally changed?
5. What needs to be disruptively changed?
6. What needs to be allowed to die?
7. What needs to be ended?
These were some of the questions which surfaced at our gathering of the CMSM conference in San Antonio last month. They cannot be answered in one sitting, and they cannot be answered by one person. It is an ongoing dialogue and time spent in prayer. The summary letter by the Rector Major to our province after our Exraordinary Visitation calls us to do the same. And, our upcoming Chapter will also challenge us to ask the same questions about our Congregation, our provinces and our communities. They are questions that need time to be answered, percolate within us and allow the Holy Spirit to do its work with each one of us and as a province. With God we always have a great story to tell, even though we may not be able to see beyond our troubles and challenges. This is our story of faith, of hope, of faithful accompaniment and of Resurrection. Disciples do not allow themselves to stay in the darkness and sadness but to constantly emerge as people who have a God like no other. Pope Francis never tires to speak about the God of Surprises! Only those who have lost faith in God are those who see no future and nothing positive. May these months of September and October, as we attend so many meetings and begin our pastoral year, help us orient ourselves properly toward a year of grace and victory.
With warm regards and gratitude,