By: Fr. Thomas Dunne, SDB
Delegate for Salesian Family – USA East (SUE)
September 2019 in Rome was a significant moment for the SDB Delegates for the Salesian Family throughout the world. The Salesian Family Secretariat, under the leader-ship of Fr. Eusebio Muñoz, S.D.B., gathered the province delegates for the Salesian Family in two language groups (Romance and English languages). Fr. Joe Farias, S.D.B. and I represented the Salesian Family in Canada and the United States at the meetings for English-speakers. We were joined by 43 other SDBs who represented Salesian provinces from Northern Europe, Asia, South East Asia, and Oceania. Using the English language was, for most of us, a great benefit in terms of communication and sharing resources. The Salesian Family team in Rome worked very hard to provide the best formative experience for the province delegates. The animating team, led by Fr. Muñoz, included Fr. Jayapalan Raphael, delegate for the Past Pupils of Don Bosco, Fr. Pierluigi Cameroni, spiritual animator of the Association of Mary Help of Christians (ADMA), Fr. Joan Lluis Playà, spiritual assistant for the Don Bosco Volunteers (DBVs) and Volunteers with Don Bosco (CDBs), and Fr. Giuseppe Casti, world delegate for the Salesian Cooperators.
Fr. Muñoz began the meeting with an excellent description of six emerging realities as they relate to the Salesian Family: 1. Laity in the Church; 2. Increase in the number of groups within the Salesian Family; 3. The Salesian Movement; 4. The Centrality of charism in the Salesian Family Groups; 5. The Importance of unity in the Salesian Family.
The Salesian Family team offered some timely formation and resources during sessions on the Salesian Family Charter, the Salesian Family Committee (Consulta), the Salesian Movement, and the role description of the Delegate for the Salesian Family. Each of the major Groups within the Family offered updates on the state of development and future hopes for the Salesian Family and their group: Antonio Boccia, coordinator of the Salesian Cooperators; Michal Hort of the Past Pupils; Renato Valera of ADMA; Fr. Joan Lluis Playà for the Don Bosco Volunteers (VDB) and the Volunteers with Don Bosco (CDB). All of us deeply appreciated the team’s efforts in help-ing us understand various aspects of our ministry with lay people in the Salesian Family.
Renato Cursi, Salesian Cooperator, currently executive secretary of Don Bosco International, was effective in his sharing on the life and ministry of lay people in the Church and Don Bosco’s Family. Emma Ceccarelli and Tullio Lucca shared on the reality of family life and family ministry for Don Bosco’s followers in the Church.
We Delegates for the Salesian Family were challenged to be the bridge between the Salesian Family Groups and the ministries offered in the areas of SDB Formation and Salesian Youth Ministry. All the members of the Salesian Family (including SDB and FMA) are called to enter into a communion of holiness and mission in the name of Don Bosco. We were challenged to help bring all segments of the Salesian Family (consecrated and not) together in the way that we offer our members formation and orient them to the fulfillment of Don Bosco’s mission on behalf of youth most in need and their families.
A highlight for this gathering was the encounter we had with Fr. Angel Fernandez Artime, Rector Major, and Tenth Successor of Don Bosco. We visited with Fr. Angel just after an inspiring moment of prayer and reflection in Don Bosco’s rooms at Sacred Heart Basilica in Rome. The Rector Major injected great energy into our meetings. He challenged us to put the Salesian Family at the heart of our consecration, communion, and mission as Don Bosco’s followers. He urged us to live the Salesian Family Charter as consecrated Religious and as Salesian Family Delegates. He urged us to revisit the deliberations of General Chapter 24 (the forgotten Chapter) to enter more fully into the spirit and practice of Don Bosco in calling together “a vast movement of people” who would take up his mission with the poorest young people and their families.
The meeting ended its four-day program with a session on planning for animating, forming, and strengthening the Salesian Family in our home provinces and throughout the world. We left this Salesian Family Delegate meeting grateful to God and Mary Help of Christians for bringing us to Don Bosco and his world-wide Salesian Family!