Dear Salesian Sisters and Brothers,
Last week, the Provincial Council, minus Fr. Tho Bui and Fr. John Itzaina, flew into San Antonio, Texas, rented a car and drove to Laredo where the provincial council met the staff of San Luis Rey and gathered for two days of provincial council meetings. Although, we were missing two provincial council members, the four of us present, were able to follow a full agenda which included personnel issues, preparation for the meetings with the Salesian Sisters and discussion on the progress made in the Salesian Formation programs for our schools, led by Br. Al Vu. A big THANK YOU to the parish of San Luis Rey for their warm hospitality and welcome. On Thursday, the council and SDBs from the parish were invited to my brother, Fernando and his wife, Adalia’s home for a delicious dinner. Thank you to them and all who made our stay very enjoyable.
On Friday evening, the council and I drove to the Salesian Sisters Provincial House in San Antonio, where we spent the night. On Saturday, after our morning Mass with the Sisters and a delicious breakfast, the two provincial councils met for the whole day. In the morning, Sr. Chantal, who is making the extraordinary visitation for the FMA San Antonio Province, opened the morning with a reflection on our need to collaborate and the witness we give when we work together. It is good to plan, dialogue and enjoy each other’s company as brothers and sisters. This alone has a witness value which impacts the young people. The upcoming General Chapters (both FMA and SDB) both focus on what type of Salesian and what type of communities do we need today? How do we respond to the needs of the young and what are the implications for our communities and our lives as consecrated religious? The day also included sharing vocational and educational programs and updates. We also shared challenges in communities. At the end of the day, the Salesian Sisters treated us to a wonderful dinner at a nearby steak house. Again, our Thanks to the Sisters for their warm hospitality. And, thanks to our Sisters for their willingness to work together with the SDBs, even when there are challenges.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, I fly back to Los Angeles and on Thursday, drive up to San Francisco. I will spend a day in the office (Friday) and on Saturday attend Vien Nguyen’s Ordination to the Diaconate. In the evening, I will fly out to Quito, Ecuador for the Provincials meetings (October 20-27). I return to San Francisco the evening of the 27th.
We congratulate Br. Vien Nguyen who will be ordained to the Diaconate on Saturday, at St. Mary’s in Moraga. Vien is being ordained with several Jesuits. Hopefully, as many of you as possible will attend this beautiful ceremony and any of the receptions offered during the day. We pray for Vien and thank him for his generous service to the Church and the Salesian Congratulation. We are happy for this blessed milestone in his journey to Priesthood and to service among the young. All the best and may God bless Vien with his grace, love and passion for the Gospel and the young.
We wish to offer our prayers and condolences to Fr. Tho Bui who lost his Dad last week. Fr. Tho was unable to join us in Texas because of the funeral arrangements. While we would have liked to have been present for the funeral and be a support to Fr. Tho and his family, we were unable to change some of our commitments. We did remember Joseph and his family in our prayers. May God give him rest and peace from his sufferings and bring comfort and solace to the family.
We also continue to pray for our sick brothers and sisters. In a special way, we remember Fr. John Itzaina who continues to recuperate from his open heart surgery, Fr. Steve Whelan who had a procedure done to release blood which had gathered around his brain and Fr. Leo Baysinger who is being cared for at a nursing facility in Norwalk.
Early November will find the provincial councils of the East and West meeting at Stony Point. This gathering, like our gathering with the FMA provincial council, is scheduled on a yearly cycle. We alternate places to meet. This year the Eastern Province is hosting us. Keep us in prayer as we continue our collaboration with the East and discover ways to live our mission more effectively here in the United States.
We continue to pray for the Synod gathered in Rome on the Pan Amazon. The Synod goes until October 27. Hopefully, their reflections and honest discussions will lead all of us to be aware of the Amazon region and its importance. It will also, hopefully, lead us to appreciate the work done and needed to conserve our environment and help prevent the greed and entitlement by some countries to use the raw materials for only economic purposes. The Holy Father is concerned for our future and the future of our young people. Perhaps, we in the States have not always taken environmental issues very seriously. We feel that what works for us is what is important. Pope Francis is helping us reflect more deeply and be aware of the greater ramifications of how we use our resources. Other people are being impacted, and sometimes, in a very negative way. Our concern for the environment and for the people of the Amazon region is part of our responsibility as Christians; part of the virtue of charity and justice. Let us continue to follow this Synod with our prayers and take to heart what the Synod of Bishops (and, laity) is telling us.
With warm regards and gratitude,