A Promise for the Future

Emily Maldonado Article

By Ms. Emily Maldonado, Salesian Cooperator, and Fr. Tom Dunne, SDB

Emily Maldonado, a young Salesian Cooperator from Port Chester, NY, offers some important perspectives and proposals for the future of the Salesian Cooperators on the eve of the Salesian Cooperator Provincial Congress (July 19-21).

From April 12-14, 2024, seventy young Salesian Cooperators came together for an Encounter experience sponsored by the Salesian Cooperator provinces of the Interamerica Region. Present at the encounter were World Coordinator Antonio Boccia, Regional Coordinator Martin Calderon, and Province Coordinator of the Cooperators in the Eastern USA Nick Magrogan. Emily Maldonado from the Port Chester Center and Sofia Alvarado from the Washington, D.C. Center represented the young Salesian Cooperators from the Eastern USA province. Salesian Cooperators from the Western US Province joined as well.

In an interview with Fr. Tom Dunne, SDB, Emily Maldonado shared some of her experiences and reflections on this experience.

I am a parishioner at St. John Bosco Parish in Port Chester, NY. I teach second-grade students in a public school. In addition, I serve as a catechist and youth group leader in St. John Bosco Parish. I am active with the Salesian Office for Youth and Young Adult ministry and participated in last year's World Youth Day celebration in Portugal.

Life as a Salesian Cooperator

I am proud to be a Salesian in the family of Don Bosco and Mary Help of Christians. I spend time with the young teaching parish catechesis. During the Monday night youth group gatherings, my co-leader, Lucas Gemio, and I are with high school students at the Valdocco Center. I translate that identity to what I do outside of my parish as well. As a school teacher, I bring the reason and kindness of Don Bosco’s charism to my second-grade classroom. I incorporate little bits and pieces of Don Bosco’s practices and methods into my everyday life.

My students truly grasp the importance of reasoning and kindness, which are fundamental to the learning environment. These values are deeply ingrained in them, whether it’s in the classroom or participating in activities at the Valdocco Youth Group. Whether teaching catechism or engaging with youth groups, my aim is to nurture these values and instill them in every encounter.

Emily’s Reflection on the Encounter Program

The whole organization did an awesome job in conducting the encounter. We loved the hands-on quality of the group activities, team building, and music. Thank you!

Salesian is a Worldwide Phenomenon

When I first became a Salesian Cooperator about three years ago, I always thought the cooperators were only in New York, maybe a few in New Jersey and Florida. I wasn't too well aware of how big the Salesian Cooperators were. When I got to World Youth Day, I could see a worldwide Salesian Family. In Guatemala, I could see that the Salesian Cooperator vocation was far more extensive and active than I had ever imagined. We are everywhere! It's not just like one isolated group in our own little area. That was really enlightening. Feeling loved in that family experience filled me with joy.


I felt like the conference was definitely a great reminder, or a refresher rather, on not forgetting our promise and how we can strengthen it as well. It caused me to think about renewing my promise. There are times when we, as Salesian Cooperators and humans, feel discouraged. We separate ourselves. In these moments, we need to reconnect ourselves and remember our promise about who's there to guide us. I know Don Bosco had an amazing message in the, “Walk with your feet on earth, but in your heart be in heaven” motto. That memory reminds me of why I became a Cooperator in the first place three years ago. So I keep my promise close in my heart. For me, I can confirm, and I'm adamant, that this is my vocation as a Salesian Cooperator. It has been sealed and cast in stone, that I am a proud Salesian Cooperator.


In discussions and sharing, all of us on the Encounter discovered that we shared many core values. We mostly struggled with the same issues. We realized that we are all in this together. Knowing that we have we all have each other makes it more impactful to actually find a way to resolve these issues, not just to talk about them.


The program offered us many opportunities to focus on God and His Mother, Mary Help of Christians throughout our times together. We joined for Eucharistic Adoration, daily Mass, a time for Marian devotion, and reflection on Sacred Scripture. The liturgical and religious music expressed the culture and devotional styles of the participants quite well.

Advice from Antonio Boccia, World Coordinator

In a word of encouragement to the young Salesian Cooperators, Antonio Boccia called for bold action when confronting obstacles. When meeting a blockage of some sort, figure out another way to achieve the goal and move forward.

Be serious about vocations

It's often mentioned that we could use more members in the Salesian Family and Salesian Cooperator Association. How can we truly showcase the spirit of the Salesian charism to these young individuals? It’s about engaging them actively, involving them in hands-on activities, and immersing them in Don Bosco's mission. Let's emphasize creating an atmosphere that brings his vision to life in a dynamic and interactive manner.

What do the Salesian Cooperators in this province need to hear from the Interamerica Region Encounter?

I believe that we should all get together, be well known, and create that very strong communication within. If we're talking about the U.S., let's build a stronger connection between both provinces and try. As a Cooperator province, let's try and implement something we discussed towards the end of our encounter: to create an event where we all get together both virtually and in person to network.

The issue I propose is promoting communication within the Salesian Family

Our number one priority should be fostering stronger communication within the province. Whether it's through email, phone calls, meetings, or social media, we must enhance our connectivity. This is particularly vital in engaging the younger generation and inviting them into our family.

By improving our communication channels, we not only strengthen ties within our province but also open doors to collaborate on future projects, both within the United States (across both provinces) and internationally. Together, we can address any challenges and provide mutual support, amplifying the impact of Don Bosco's mission.

A motto from the Encounter: A Promise for the Future

“Un sueño, una promesa y el futuro en nuestras manos.”

The translation is "A dream, a promise, and the future in our hands." 

For me, this anniversary of Don Bosco’s dream at age nine reminds me of our own dream received and accepted when we made our promises at the beginning of our journey as a Salesian Cooperator or as a Salesian Family. That dream at age nine is a constant reminder of the promise we made in front of Our Lord and Our Lady. Living out that promise every day is our way of continuing the dream at age nine, the dream that makes us dream. It reaffirms that the future is in our hands, guided by the vision and commitment we embraced from the very beginning.

July 8, 2024 - 9:48am
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