Dear Salesian Sisters and Brothers,
Many of us are still basking in the glow and wonderful experience of our PAD (Province Assembly Days) held in January 12-14. My thanks to all those who made the effort to be present and participate. I have only heard good and positive things about our two and a half days together in San Juan Bautista. My thanks also to the planning committee for their hard work. They did an excellent job! Hats off to them.
The Province Assembly Days focused on the theme: “Accompanying One Another, Creating Our Future.” Throughout our time together the Assembly had a chance to listen to two different panels, mostly of young Salesians, share ways they have felt themselves accompanied by others in formation, community and in the province. On the second day, another panel shared their dreams for the next five to ten years in the province. Participants were able to break out into small groups and share their own experiences, discouraging and positive. They were able to reflect on the same questions of dreams and the story they wish to narrate for the next five to ten years. Most of the communities expressed dreams and hopes of living in communities which were fraternal, where communication and mutual respect exist and cultural diversity is seen as enriching our religious life rather than dividing. Others dreamt of a province that cares for one another with compassion, both for the elderly and the young and positively affects those whom we serve. We also dreamt of joyful, happy and authentic communities being at the forefront of evangelization and education of young people, enabled by the intentional practicing of compassion and genuine fraternity. Working together as teams and on a common project and mission was another important element to our future.
I was very pleased with the openness and heartfelt sharing. Our atmosphere during PAD was fraternal, joyful and fun. We reflected seriously, we prayed with devotion, made time for fun and relaxation together and just enjoyed each other’s company. Now, the work of continuing to make real what we dreamt about is our real task. May the Holy Spirit accompany us and give us the courage and wisdom to transform our lives, our communities and our province in ways that tell the story we began narrating at PAD.
This coming Friday, we celebrate the solemn feast of St. John Bosco! Throughout the world there will be countless celebrations and visible gestures of love and devotion for our founder. He was a dreamer and had a beautiful story to tell. He had a gift and ability to be able to make his story, which was God’s story, come alive. Despite criticism and naysayers, Don Bosco with great confidence, trust and faith in Divine Province and Mary Help of Christians, pushed forward until his last breath. He entrusted that dream to us and strongly encouraged us to continue making that dream a realization in our world today. Our General Chapter XXVIII which begins next month in Turin, Italy, has entrusted us Chapter members to enter into a serious reflection on “What Kind Of Salesians For The Youth Of Today?” Don Bosco also encountered a changing society which presented new conditions and challenges to the world of the young and to the Church. Don Bosco with his great trust in Mary Help of Christians and his faith in a God who loves us all unconditionally, found new and exciting ways to reach the young and bring God’s presence to them. Our Salesian Preventive System and Spirituality is still very much alive and relevant today. We need to return to the roots of that spirituality and live it fully. Our manner and style of being with the young, our constant presence in their lives (not just in a classroom, Church or structured setting), our constant joy and optimism for a beautiful future, our embrace of all cultures and the family spirit of welcome and kindness we create are not new. But, these and other characteristics, such as our Marian devotion and love for the Church, have made us effective witnesses of God’s love to the young. We need to look at where these characteristics are lacking or are weak and strengthen them. We need to find ways to practice them in our own environments and, perhaps, in a new way. May Don Bosco bless our efforts and mission. May we not only celebrate an external feast but allow the fruits of the feast to have an effect in our lives. Happy Feast of Don Bosco to all the Salesian Family!! You will all be in my prayers!
This Sunday, February 2nd, besides “Super Bowl “ Sunday, the Church celebrates the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. But, the Church also wishes us to remember it as “World Day for Consecrated Life.” It is a day that the Church sets aside to reflect, remember and pray for those who have been consecrated by God with the choice to live their Baptismal lives with greater intensity by professing the vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience. Let us pray for all those in Religious life and those who live their lives with the commitment of these three vows/promises. Please pray for all of us in the Salesian Family who have made these vows and who are asked to be witnesses to the world through our lives. I am thinking specifically of the Salesian Priests, Brothers, Sisters and Volunteers of Don Bosco. But, there are also countless of Religious men and women who belong to the branch of the Salesian Family and have taken these same vows as they carry their Salesian Mission throughout the world. May God’s grace keep us faithful and help us reflect the light of Christ, especially, to the young.
To all those celebrating the Lunar New Year, I send wishes of blessings and good fortune. Happy New Year! This day (days) are very important and sacred to many Asian cultures. Let us help them honor this beginning of the New Year as they visit family, remember the dead and celebrate with family and friends with traditional foods, festivities and hopes for a better year! HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Tomorrow, January 30th, I will preside at the School Mass for the feast of St. John Bosco at Salesian High, North, Richmond. On Friday, January 31st, I will preside at the School Mass for St. John Bosco in Watsonville, at St. Francis. In the evening, I will join Bishop Sylvester Ryan (retired) and the community of Mary Help of Christians Parish to celebrate Don Bosco’s feast. Since all the Bishops of California are at their AD Limina visit in Rome these weeks, I gratefully accepted.
On Sunday, February 2nd, I fly out to Newark, New Jersey to attend the Curatorium meeting for the Post Novitiate. I will return to San Francisco on Tuesday, February 4th. Fr. Tim Ploch, our Regional will also fly to San Francisco to conduct the consultation for the new provincial who will begin his six years in July of 2020. Please pray that we may be open to the guidance of the Spirit and choose someone who can take the province into a future which can be very challenging but promising at the same time!
With warm regards and gratitude,