This has been something of a historic year for our province. We are celebrating the 125th anniversary of the arrival of SDBs to the USA. Salesian Missions, New Rochelle, and the Marian Shrine, Stony Point, are celebrating their 75th anniversaries. It is the 100th anniversary of St. Rosalie Parish, Harvey. The Salesians have been in Chicago now for 25 years. This is also the 25th anniversary of the Don Bosco Youth Leadership Centre in Montréal. The Rector Major came to visit our province in November, and Fr. Hugo, our regional, came to visit in November and February. Through these anniversaries, we can recognize the dynamic missionary dimension of the Salesian charism. Instead of organizing huge events to commemorate these significant moments of the past, the provincial council and I felt our province should direct our efforts to renew the missionary spirit in each SDB and each Salesian presence, with an eye toward the Jubilee Year 2025 and the 150th anniversary of the Salesian expedition to Argentina.
Back in December, as a tribute to the Rector Major for his visit, I asked each local community to identify at least one person who could be a volunteer/SLM this year. You were also encouraged to promote vocations to the groups of the Salesian Family. We are halfway through the year. Here is a status report on this effort to renew the missionary zeal in our province, especially among young adults:
Chicago: Sixteen people are preparing to become members of ADMA at St. James Parish
East Boston: volunteers at the Salesian Boys and Girls Club
Edmonton: no response
Etobicoke: no response
Marrero: volunteers through service programs at Shaw HS, parishioners invited to be SLMs
Montréal: Two Cooperators made their promises
New Rochelle: some recent graduates inducted into the past pupils association
Orange: no response
Port Chester: Two Cooperator candidates and four ADMA candidates
Ramsey: Three Cooperators made their promises
Sherbrooke: missionary trips to Cameroon and Mexico; One Cooperator candidate
Stony Point: Three people referred to the SLM program; another volunteered short-term in Africa
Surrey: no response
Tampa: vocation seekers in residence during the school year and during the summer
Washington: no response
This is a project for the year, so let’s redouble our efforts to invite young adults to volunteer as SLMs or in some other program. We work closely with many colleagues who are committed to living the Salesian charism. We can be bold in inviting them to do so as members of the Groups of the Salesian Family, including the Confederation of Past Pupils.
In line with the efforts to renew the missionary dimension of the Salesian charism in our province, we can also give attention to the Salesian Missionary Day for 2023. The theme is "Care of Creation: our Mission." Resources have already been distributed to each SDB community. Booklets, posters, prayers, and videos are available here. These resources can easily be incorporated into the ways the local Salesian work will celebrate the Season of Creation (Friday, September 1, through Wednesday, October 4), Mission Month (all of October, with Mission Sunday being on October 22, 2023) and Saturday, November 11, the commemoration of the departure of the Salesian missionary expedition to Argentina.
We sometimes hear, "If you are baptized, you are a missionary." Why not say with enthusiasm, "I am a Salesian, I am a missionary?"
It is a time of transition of leadership, in our province and in groups of the Salesian Family, at the province level and local levels. Please pray for the continued strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit as we all strive to be signs and bearers of God’s love to the young.
Fr. Tim Zak