Dear Salesian Sisters and Brothers,
Two weeks ago, November 7-8, the two provincial councils of the SDBs in the United States met for our annual meetings. We from the west, flew out a day early for our own provincial council meeting before joining the Eastern Provincial Council. And, several of us stayed two extra days afterwards to visit our men in formation in Orange, New Jersey.
The joint council meetings took place at Stony Point where the Salesians run a large retreat center. The community directs youth retreats and hosts many adult retreats. The Salesian community also houses several elderly confreres. We are very grateful for the hospitality offered to us both by the Provincial Council and by the local Salesian community. Our stay and joint interactions were quite enjoyable and enriching. Our sincere THANK YOU to all who contributed in making our stay and gathering a success.
Our joint meeting with the two provincial councils is scheduled for an annual gathering, usually in the Fall. We alternate locations, one year in the East and one year in the West. The agenda items usually deal with sharing information on happenings and events related to both provinces and the United States. We also share and investigate possibilities for greater collaboration and possible influence as a Salesian presence in this country.
Some of the agenda items this year covered our Extraordinary Visitations (Fr. Tim Ploch did the Eastern Province Visitation and the West had Fr. Maria Arokiam Kanaga as its Extraordinary Visitor). Both Visitations took place in the Spring of 2019. Fr. Tim Zak, Provincial of the New Rochelle Province and I shared some of the “take aways” from our visits. We found similar challenges in both provinces: lack of sufficient vocations, less personnel, aging confreres, inter-cultural communities, our challenge in working with the laity and empowering them so that our Mission can continue, finances and living our Religious Life with greater depth and authenticity. As joint councils we also discussed our joint formation programs led by our Formation Delegates: John Itzaina and Steve Ryan. We shared our youth ministry programs and events, led by our youth ministry delegates: Al Vu and Abraham Feliciano. We discussed some Safe Environment issues, reported on our Inter American Provincials meeting in Quito and did some planning for our next Directors Workshop in July 12-18, 2020 in Stony Point. There was also time for open forum and informal dialogue. All of our days began with Morning Prayer and Eucharist.
Like so many of our joint meetings, either with the SDBs from both provinces, the SDB and FMA from the West or the delegate meetings held throughout out the Inter American Region (all in the Fall), it is not so much that we go away with having organized common plans or events, but rather it is the coming together to share, to encourage one another in our role as leaders, to learn from each other and experience the unity of our Salesian Congregations. During these days we become a living sign of unity and collaboration and brotherly/sisterly friendship and camaraderie. At the end of these gatherings, despite the traveling and time away from other urgent matters, I leave grateful for being Salesian and energized to work with greater gratitude and enthusiasm on creating these similar experiences in our province and in our communities.
Let us keep our Salesian Sisters from the Western Province in prayer during this week. They are gathered in San Antonio, Texas, at their provincial house for their Provincial Chapter. We pray for the success of these days, that their gathering will produce good fruit for their communities, their mission to the young and their growth as a province.
These days I am at the Provincial House in San Francisco. I will try to visit some of the northern communities during these days (today I visit St. Luke’s in Stockton.
Please keep our Youth Ministry Department, Social Communication Department, and our young people attending the NCYC (National Catholic Youth Conference) being held in Indianapolis from Thursday, November 21 to Saturday, 23.
During the month of November, besides Thanksgiving Day and days of vacation and family gatherings, we remember those who have died. We in the provincial house often remember those who have died, not only by reading from the Salesian necrology but remembering those names sent to us to be placed in a basket underneath our chapel altar. We also intentionally celebrate the Mass for the deceased and add frequent intercessions on their behalf. Let us do the same in our communities and wherever we may be-remembering our deceased loved one in prayer and giving thanks to God for so many who have loved us and influenced us to be better men and woman and more meaningful signs to the young of God’s love for them. “Eternal Rest grant unto them, O Lord! And, Let perpetual light shine upon them.”
With warm regards and gratitude,