Dear Salesian Sisters and Brothers,
Yesterday morning, I drove down from the provincial house in San Francisco to Los Angeles. The Salesian Sisters had invited us to attend their “medal ceremony” for the new postulants. We wish to congratulate the nine new postulants (five from the Eastern Province and four from the West) on this new and official step in their journey towards their profession as Salesian Sisters. Sr. Chantal Mukase, FMA, from the General Council in Rome and making the Extraordinary Visitation of the Salesian Sisters in the Western Province of the United States, was present. Also present were the two FMA Provincials, Sr. Rosann Ruiz and Sr. Joanne Holloman and their vice-provincials, Sr. Sandra Neaves and Sr. Helen Godin. The Salesian Sisters from the local communities in Los Angeles and the Salesians and men in formation from Bellflower were also there. A few other family and friends also attended. Thank you to Sr. Patricia King, the Animator and formation coordinator, for her invitation and hospitality. We also thank Fr. Mike Gergen, newly appointed Pastor of St. Dominic Savio, for his hospitality for the use of the Church and the hall. The ceremony was beautifully prepared and you could sense a rich and vibrant Salesian spirit and presence. We continue to pray for the nine new postulants and for the grace of perseverance for all those in formation and in discernment.
I will be in Los Angeles attending different meetings until October 7th. On October 8th, I will fly out to Texas where the provincial council and I will have our October provincial council meetings (in Laredo, Texas, at our Salesian Parish, San Luis Rey) and also meet with the FMA (Salesian Sisters) provincial council, for a one day meeting at their provincial house in San Antonio. After a few days in Texas, I will return to Los Angeles and drive up to San Francisco for Br. Vien Minh Nguyen’s Diaconate Ordination in Moraga before flying to Quito, Ecuador for the gathering of the Provincials of the Inter-American Region.
As you can see, September and October are busy months.
Yesterday, while watching and observing the new FMA postulants and our men in formation perform a skit and sing songs, you could sense their enthusiasm and love for Don Bosco, Mary Mazzarello and the Salesian Spirit. It is a beautiful and dynamic way to be holy and be that counter-cultural way of living which our world badly needs. In a world of greed, division, entitlement and keeping others from enjoying the vast richness we are blessed to have, we Salesians should be grateful, joyful, trusting, welcoming and united as a Family which supports one another and helps those who are less fortunate than we are. We are blessed to be SALESIAN.
Yesterday, while sitting with Sr. Chantal, the Salesian Sister visiting from Rome for the FMA Extraordinary Visitation, she mentioned to me that she was impressed with the richness that exists in this “Salesian Block,” here in Bellflower. This Salesian block, as we call it, consists of a parish and grammar school, a High School, two formation centers (FMA and SDB) and a rich presence of a good variety of members of the Salesian Family (Cooperators, ADMA, Ex-Alumnos sin fronteras, Damas Salesianas, Bosconians and others). Sr. Chantal also noticed the great number of young people and their openness to learn about God and our Faith, their joy and enthusiasm to be members of the parish and open to the Salesian Spirit. We are grateful for this and pray that we may be able to continue to cultivate in them a desire to be holy (in our Salesian style) and make a difference in the world by the vocation they choose. We have been blessed to enjoy this Salesian wealth. We are also given the responsibility to help it grow and accompany our young people and Salesian Family to a more committed level and witness.
This coming year, our Rector Major and his council have chosen the following theme for the strenna: Good Christians and honest citizens. This was Don Bosco’s dream and desire for his young people, namely, that they would all become good Christians but also honest citizens. Some of our schools have adopted this strenna as their theme for this pastoral and academic year. They have adapted the words to fit their contexts, such as, “walking in Faith, working for Justice.” We walk in faith and we trust that the God who led Jesus, Mary and Don Bosco will also led and guide us. We also work for justice (honest citizen) trying to make a difference in the world we live by efforts to end racism, greed, lack of care for our earth, violence and selfish isolationism which attempts at ensuring our level of wealth, comfort and waste while caring little about what that does to our world and those who continue to live in dire poverty.
This coming Sunday, September 29th, the Church celebrates World Day for Migrants and Refugees. Pope Francis will preside at a Mass to mark the occasion. We know how passionate our Pope is toward this issue and how often he reminds us to fight for the rights of migrants and refugees. Perhaps, we too can do something in our communities and parishes to remind others of this crisis and sad situation in our world and in our own country. So many people find themselves displaced and lost after fleeing from very dangerous and life-threatening situations. Most of these migrants and refugees are not simply trying to go elsewhere to perpetuate crimes and disorderly conduct, but most are simply trying to stay safe and alive. They are trying to find a better situation for their children and live honest lives. A start for us would be to be properly educated on the plight of migrants and refugees and to expose others, especially, the young, to the realities of those who are fleeing.
This coming Sunday we are also celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Salesian Missionary Expedition. It is the day that missionaries (SDB and FMA) are commissioned (usually from Turin) out to different countries to bring the Good News of God’s love and the Salesian Spirit of joy and care. These are men and women who have left their homeland to risk and, in a way be migrants, to help others encounter a home, a loving family and a future. Let us keep these missionaries in our prayers and let us pray that in some way we too might be instruments of change in our society where all can live at peace, in justice and in faith.
All of these events and remembrances are wonderful opportunities to help educate ourselves, the Salesian Family and the young to a deeper faith and commitment to help bring God’s love to a hungering world and be a witness of God’s love for the young and those most in need.
With warm regards and gratitude,