(Guatemala City – November 11) – Br. Thomas Dion, known as Br. Tom, is a Salesian brother from the Eastern Province in the US. In 2000, he had the opportunity to be a part of the formative community of CRESCO when it was in El Salvador. He recently shared with Br. Rafael Vargas and the other members of the current CRESCO community a little about his life and pastoral experiences.
Can you please tell us a little about yourself and what led you to join the Salesians?
I grew up near Chicago, Illinois, into a family of seven people including myself. For many years I thought about becoming a priest, but something about it just didn’t seem to be right for me. During my senior year in high school, I met a religious brother for the first time in my life. We spoke for about an hour, and by the end of our conversation, I knew that God was calling me to be a religious brother. I contacted a couple of religious orders, but none of them seemed right for me. Several years later I saw an advertisement in a Catholic magazine for the Salesians. I contacted them and signed up for a vocation weekend. When I attended, I just knew that this was what God was calling me to. I joined the Salesians when I was 27 years old. This year marks my 25th anniversary; I made my first profession in 1994.
What have been some significant or memorable pastoral experiences?
For the last seven years, I have been assigned as the coordinator of our prenovices. I truly enjoy my work with them. These young men are very interested in their faith and want to learn more about God, the Salesians, and about being men of Christ. I really like watching them as they transition from being a teenager to being an adult. It’s very rewarding to me to see them grow in their faith and to help them follow God’s call for them.
For several years I worked in Paterson, NJ, with poor youths. There were kids everywhere, but also many problems like poverty, drugs, teenage pregnancy, etc. We Salesians provided the young with a place in which they could turn for recreation, love, stability, and where they could find help when in trouble. I have many fond memories of my time working with them as a teacher and friend. There are many young men who are looking for more than what the world has to offer them.
What pastoral activities or ministry are you currently involved in?
I’m currently the coordinator of our prenovices, a community treasurer, and a member of our provincial council. I also serve on our Province Formation Commission, our Province Admissions Committee, and our Province Finance Committee.
What are some challenges and what are some opportunities that you see in your current pastoral ministries?
The low number of vocations in the United States is a big challenge for us and can sometimes make it difficult to carry out formation. One great opportunity, though, is that there are many young men who are looking for more than what the world has to offer them. They are asking questions about God, their faith, and the meaning of life. These are men who are discovering that they have a vocation. Pray that they might have the courage to follow Christ as a priest or brother. Also, pray that Mary Help of Christians leads them to us! It would be a wonderful problem to have too many vocations if that is even possible!