Provincial Letter: October 1st, 2019

Dear Salesian Sisters and Brothers,

Today we celebrated the feast of St. Therese of Lisieux or also known as St. Theresa of the Child Jesus or the Little Flower.   She entered the Carmelite convent at 15, with special permission from the Pope, and died when she was 24 years of age in 1897.   She lived a secluded, cloistered life as a Carmelite nun.  But, she always longed to go to the missions.   She wrote her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, urging all to follow “the little way.”  After her death, her autobiography became public and she became widely popular, even to this day.   Although she never went to the missions, she was declared patroness of the missions and later declared doctor of the Church.    It is amazing (God’s ways) that this nun, living in a cloistered monastery, would be declared patroness of the missions.   But, her love for the missions and for spreading the love of God, even in small and little ways, made her great.

This last Sunday, September 29th, the Rector Major, Angel Fernandez Artime, presented the missionary cross to 36 SDB’s and 13 FMA’s.   This was the 150 anniversary of the Salesian missionary expeditions.   Since these missionaries expeditions started, over 10,000 missionaries have been commissioned, given their missionary cross and sent out to different parts of the world.   We Salesians are a missionary congregation.   Unlike, Therese of the Child Jesus who could not leave her convent, Salesians actively go out to bring God’s love and message to the world.   And in a way,  we are connected—St. Therese and the Salesians.   Both love the missions and both pray and work to spread the Gospel throughout the world.   St. Therese did it through prayer and her writings which have touched hundreds and thousands of people and inspired them to live holy lives.   That is really what being missionary is all about.   We are all called to be missionaries—either actively going out or praying and being a witness of God’s love to others.  More converts are made through witness than through teaching.   The Popes have often said this.    Witness is powerful.  As St. Francis of Assisi once said, preach and preach often…and, use words if necessary!  We preach powerfully with our lives!

Last Sunday, the Church celebrated World Day of Prayer for Migrants and Refugees.   A beautiful bronze and clay sculpture was presented to the Pope.   It was a life size sculpture of refugees and migrants in a boat, escaping to safety.   And, in the middle there appears wings.  The name of the sculpture is “Angels Unawares.”     In the midst of that crowd of refugees, the Divine is present, God is present, Angels are present.   God is found in the midst of those fleeing and seeking a new life.  We Salesians are missionaries who are called to go out and be that divine presence to others.   Therese of Lisieux discovered the presence of the divine inside her convent in the little things and activities that filled her day.   We too are called to do likewise wherever we are.

I am in Los Angeles these days attending different meetings.  Today, I was present at Don Bosco Tech’s Board of Directors meetings.  This coming Saturday, St. Bridget’s Parish in Los Angeles China Town, is celebrating its 80th anniversary.   A special fundraiser and banquet is being hosted by the parish.  The Provincial of Hong Kong will be present.   I also plan to attend.  The Parish of St. Bridget’s is a very active parish and very Salesian.  At the moment they are working on raising funds to build a multimillion dollar building which would house offices, a youth center and a gathering place for parishioners.  Please keep St. Bridget’s parish in your prayers.   They have much for which to be thankful to God!  And, we are thankful for their contribution to the Chinese community, the Church and the Salesians, especially, in the Los Angeles Diocese.   They have been very generous and continue to do so.  They have a large number of Salesian Cooperators which points to the fact that they love the Salesians and wish to continue Don Bosco’s spirit and work with the young.   We CONGRATULATE ST. BRIDGET’S PARISH and promise them our prayers.

This coming Sunday, we are celebrating anniversaries of Ordination and Profession.   Thirteen Salesians are celebrating anniversaries.  Congratulations to our jubilarians!  We wish to thank them for their many years of service and dedication to the Church and the Salesian mission to the young.   A Mass will be celebrated at St. Dominic Savio Parish at 3pm, followed by a reception for invited guests.   We honor those who are celebrating and accompany them with our prayers.

Next week, the provincial council will be traveling to San Antonio and Laredo, Texas for provincial council meetings and joint meetings with the provincial council of the Salesian Sisters.   Please keep us in your prayers.

With warm regards and gratitude,

Fr. Ted