We are preparing for the Solemnity of Pentecost with the universal Church. This original novena heightens our awareness of the many gifts the Spirit bestows upon the People of God, and upon each one of us. Let us consider just a few of the gifts we have received at this time of year.
On Saturday, May 28, Ky Nguyen was ordained a Salesian priest, and Branden Gordon was ordained a Salesian deacon. What a gift to the province; what a gift to the young. Bp. Vincent Nguyen, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Toronto, presided at the ordination at Our Lady of the Valley Parish, Orange, NJ. Bp. Nguyen emphasized that these men were chosen for the service of God’s people. At the reception, Fr. Ky reflected on the gift of the Salesian priesthood. He recognized how his life has been enriched by the experience of having been born in Vietnam and now having been ready to serve in Canada and the USA. This richness was expressed in the Mass and Rite of Ordination through the diversity of cultures of the people present as well as through the music and language. It is the Spirit of God, active in the Church, who bestows upon us these diverse gifts of vocation, intercultural living, and worship, so we can all be enriched. Certainly, we were enriched by the presence of young people from some of our Salesian works, students from Seton Hall, and the men on the Spirit of Life and Action Retreat with Fr. Steve DeMaio and Fr. Sean McEwen.
This week, several of our Salesian schools have graduation. Shaw’s graduation was on Saturday, May 21; Le Salésien will have graduation on Tuesday, June 21. With all the pomp and circumstance, there is always a sense of pride when we see how these young men have grown through their Salesian education. We recall that the gifts of the Spirit are directed toward the mission entrusted by Christ to the Church. For us Salesians, we see the many gifts of our confreres, colleagues, benefactors, and families all contributing to the environment in which the gifts of the young people can be cultivated. For many of the students, we will never see how those gifts bear fruit. For some, we will have the privilege of accompanying them further along their journey. Spiritual and social activities for graduates and their friends, a past pupils association, opportunities to volunteer and vocational discernment are ways we can help the young adults be attentive to the Spirit in their lives.
On the day of Pentecost, filled with the Holy Spirit, St. Peter and the other Apostles proclaimed the Good News of salvation in Jesus. St Peter concludes his proclamation, "For the promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call" (Acts 2:39). As an apostolic Church, we feel the urgency to go forth, so "that the joy of the Gospel may reach to the ends of the earth, and no periphery be deprived of its light" (Prayer of Pope Francis to Mary, Mother of the Living Gospel). How many Catholics are waiting for someone to invite them back to Mass? How many young people are hoping someone will help them feel like they belong? How many young adults are finding that the secular proposals for life leave them empty, and they need a guide to help them discover the fullness of life? The Spirit of God is still active among the believers, among Salesians, so we can be that Church going forth to the peripheries, and giving ourselves to the mission.
Thanks for the bold witness of Fr. Ky and Dcn. Branden in offering themselves to God, sharing the gifts they have received, the gifts they are, in the Salesian mission. May Mary, Our Lady of the "Fiat," who was overshadowed by the Spirit of God, help us all experience a new Pentecost.
Fr. Tim Zak