Dear Salesian Family,
This week is the solemnity of St. John Bosco!
Some of our works are planning youthful liturgies this weekend; others will celebrate next week so that their activities coincide with Catholic Schools week. For us Salesians, the entire month of January is in some ways Don Bosco month. At St. John Bosco Parish, Port Chester, since December 31 the weekly bulletin has included questions about Don Bosco, the Oratory, Salesian history, and Salesian saints. Check out their bulletin to see how much you know about the father and teacher of youth: www.portchestercatholicchurch.org. Some of our communities welcome the bishop, local clergy and religious, alumni, and benefactors to celebrate with us. Don Bosco and the Salesian charism are gifts to the whole Church. All the activities connected to the solemnity of St. John Bosco are really occasions for us to renew our Salesian vocation, especially our mission to the young.
I hope you read Salesian News last week. It included articles on Salesian missionary trips to Tijuana, Mexico, and Belle Glade, Fla. Salesian News this week includes the personal stories of Salesian youths who went on mission to Nicaragua. We are inspired by the apostolic zeal of the young people who give up vacation time, travel at their own expense, and dedicate themselves to a week of service. These missionary trips after Christmas will be followed later in the year by others back to Belle Glade and Nicaragua, to Haiti and Mexico, and maybe to Puerto Rico. This doesn’t include the missionary experience of Gospel Roads during the summer months. We can say quite confidently that the passion of Don Bosco’s Da mihi animas is alive in our provinces.
Even as we are inspired by the enthusiasm of our young missionaries, Salesian animators feel the need to make these experiences as complete as possible. This means the young people reflect on their experience, allow the Gospel to enlighten their reflections and expand their vision, incorporate the attitude of service into daily life, and share their testimony so that others can also receive the Good News. For the Salesian leaders, it will mean listening and accompanying with the young, that is, putting into practice this year’s strenna: Let us cultivate the art of listening and accompaniment. With this type of accompaniment, the young people will better be able to discover God’s plan for their lives.
We don’t have to go on mission trips to distant places to live our missionary vocation. Don Bosco was a zealous missionary at the Oratory in Turin. Since the effectiveness of the missionary is tied more to authentic witness than to busy activity, we all can be joyful witnesses of our Salesian vocation in our present ministries, and thus accompany others to know God’s love and follow his call.
Wishing you all a joyful celebration of the solemnity of St. John Bosco that leads to renewal of our missionary zeal.
Fr. Tim Zak, SDB