In mid-May the Salesians of the Eastern Province of the U.S. and Canada announced that the Salesians would withdraw from their ministries in Champaign, Ill. The decision was made after months of prayer and discernment, in dialog with the Diocese of Peoria.
Since 2013 two Salesians have staffed Holy Cross Parish and one has served on the pas-toral staff of the Newman Center at the Uni-versity of Illinois’s flagship campus (about 45,000 students).
The June 10-11 weekend will be the Sale-sians’ last weekend in the parish. The parish-ioners offered all three Salesians a farewell reception on May 21 after the 4:00 p.m. Sun-day Mass.
In his letter announcing the province’s deci-sion to the parishioners and members of the Salesian Family, Fr. Tim Zak wrote that the decision was guided by priorities set by the Salesian Congregation at world level, reiterated by the province’s 2016 provincial chapter.
Those priorities include both apostolic effectiveness and the fraternal life of the Salesian communities through-out the province.
Fr. Zak’s letter noted that the four Salesians who were assigned to Champaign between 2013 and 2017 have all loved the people they served and worked hard to minister faithfully to them, and they have known the parishioners’ and students’ love, support, and appreciation.The Peoria Diocese and local clergy likewise ap-preciated their ministry.
The Salesians leave a physical legacy with the parish and its parochial school: a stronger preschool program with a new building and var-ious building renovations. They leave the spir-itual legacy of devotion to Mary Help of Christians and Saint John Bosco, and of the Preventive System. The Salesian Cooperators remain to keep Salesian spirituality alive in Champaign. The confreres found many trusted and valued friends and hope those friendships
The Salesians have assured Holy Cross’s parishioners of their prayers during and after the transition and encouraged all concerned to look to the Risen Jesus as the source of our life and strength.
The Catholic Post did a nice story about the Salesians’ departure.