Dear Salesian Confreres,
I hope that each of you is well and safe, filled with the presence and charity of God in your lives and “doing everything through love”, as this year’s Strenna invites us, especially for each of those young people we meet on a daily basis.
I am writing to you with the deep desire to communicate and share an important decision that the Provincial Council has made, regarding the Summer Camp at the facilities of Camp Saint Francis in Aptos, CA.
I would like to clarify, first, that the decision-making has not been arbitrary, this has been the result of dialogue, reflection, practical work, and sharing of all those who should be involved in a pastoral effort such as that required for the Summer Camp.
On October 25th, 2021, I convened the first meeting to approach all the leaders, salesians, and lay partners in mission, in the salesian presence of Watsonville, to see the viability, organization, and possible responsibility required in the case of carrying out an overnight camp for 2022.
This meeting was attended by: The director of the salesian community and pastor, Fr. Rafael Saiz, the coordinator of Camp St. Francis, Br. Khoa Luong, the principal Mr. Patrick Lee, and the CYM, Mrs. Shannon McLeod, who represented St. Francis Salesian High School. The formative community of the novitiate was also present including, Fr. Joe Nguyen, Fr. John Puntino, the novices, and the Office of Youth Ministry, including Mr. Andrew Coffey, who at the time was helping out with the reorganization and transition at Camp St. Francis. In that meeting and in the meetings that followed, we reflected and worked with seriousness and depth, to recognize the historical importance that Camp has for everyone in the province, and the great and positive impact that its realization has had, not only on the salesian presence in Watsonville but for our young people, lay partners in mission, and salesians in the Province.
During these moments of joint work, we specified possible advertisement plans for the Summer Camp, guidelines and policies regarding COVID, and other necessary health and safety rules. We also discussed the bases of a curriculum for a month-long Salesian program, and the responsibilities that each of the works in Watsonville, the salesians in formation, and the Youth Ministry office would have to assume, to bring this experience to fruition and above all to generate the necessary consistency to develop the program year after year.
Unfortunately, the lack of Salesian staff, and the required time and money to give the leadership of this project to a layperson, does not allow us to reopen the experience of the Summer Camp in Aptos for the present year.
This news should not discourage us. We will continue to work to consolidate a robust salesian program that is inclusive and practical, and that responds to our needs and above all to our current possibilities. For this we will continue to meet with the leadership in Watsonville and any of you salesians who are interested in working with us.
I want to express my infinite gratitude to all the leaders in Watsonville, salesians, and lay partners in mission, and especially to Br. Tom Mass and Fr. Michael Gergen for their accompaniment, presence, and support in this effort, which demonstrates the deep interest of the Provincial Council, in being connected with the reality of each of our presences.
I invite you all to reflect and take a step forward to share with us your ideas and dreams, and your desire to collaborate to reopen the Summer Camp in Aptos next year.
And remember, even in difficult and trial times, there is always something to bless and thank God for. Let us pray for our other Camps in the Province, Camp Savio in Bellflower, Camp Salesian in Boyle Heights, Camp San Luis Rey in Laredo, among others, which will take place this summer, and will have the support of our salesian confreres in formation and will serve at least 900 kids and young people.
Our mission in Texas, California, and the rest of the western United States is alive because of all of you. Let’s continue working together for the salvation of the young.
In Don Bosco,
Fr. Fabian Alberto Cardenas Chinchilla SDB.
Province Delegate for Youth Ministry