Dear Salesian Family,
It’s been four months now since the SDBs had their provincial chapter. Considering all the graduations, First Communions, and Confirmations, the summer activities and moving to new assignments that have occurred since then, I’m guessing few of us could remember the choices to which we committed ourselves back in March.
One particular concern keeps resurfacing, however: that of the joint formation of SDBs and lay collaborators for the shared Salesian mission. We find it as a recommendation in the final report of our extraordinary visitation with Fr. Tim Ploch. The SDB provincial council spent considerable time discussing this topic during its week together in prayer and planning. It was experienced by the Cooperator coordinators, delegates, and formators at the Forming the Formators workshop at the end of June.
As we move into the new academic-pastoral year, I think it is worth presenting again what the SDB provincial chapter included as choices in Key Topic 3: Shared Mission between Salesians and Laity.
– We need to develop a plan of shared leadership that will guide Salesians and lay colleagues in living out their respective vocations and serving the common Salesian mission.
– We need to conduct planning for the mission with members of the Salesian Family and lay colleagues so that Salesians will understand that Don Bosco’s mission is shared with a wider educational-pastoral community.
– We commit to working together as Salesians and colleagues in the fulfillment of our common mission.
– There is a strong recommendation from all the corners of the province to establish a province formation program for both Salesians and lay people together, to be implemented and adapted to the local situation in all of our ministerial settings. We will reintroduce a number of formation day programs for Salesians, Salesian Family members, and other lay colleagues together, for example, Salesianity days, retreat days, days of prayer, faculty in-service days, formation days to study and implement the Rector Major’s strenna.
– We will prepare our leadership personnel to exercise the executive responsibilities of supervision, evaluation, animation, and accompaniment that are essential in fulfilling our ministerial and fiduciary responsibility to Don Bosco’s mission in the Church and society.
Clearly, some of these choices are directed to the province leadership. I will be following up with a request I made some months ago to the SDB directors to describe the formation programs they already have in place. We are not starting from scratch and can learn quite a bit from each other. Fr. Abraham Feliciano will be taking some initiatives to bring together leaders from the Salesian schools. We have already seen the success of the Cooperator Forming the Formators workshop and look forward to the follow-up.
Even as the province leadership begins to translate the provincial chapter choices into actions, the leadership of the local Salesian presences can let their actions be shaped by these same priorities. It’s encouraging to know that some geographic regions of the province already have dates for Salesian Family spirituality days on the calendar. Some directors commit themselves to see that formation in the Salesian charism is offered at every board of trustees meeting. I know that the Salesian Youth Ministry Frame of Reference is being used more and more. We can build upon these strengths.
As we continue to enjoy the summer with all the varied apostolates, time for vacations, and retreats, we can see on the horizon the new academic-pastoral year. Taking advantage of a few moments during these weeks to recall the choices we made at the provincial chapter back in March, we will be better prepared to offer quality formation for the leaders of the educational-pastoral community. A few small but significant actions will move us closer to realizing Don Bosco’s vision of a vast movement of people—lay and religious—working together for the salvation of the young.
Fr. Tim Zak