Reshaping, redesigning, restructuring, reorganizing, re-dimensioning, re-, re-, re-. We’ve been talking about this for more than 50 years, since GC20, and still, it was included in the topics at the team meeting in Peru. Fr. Stefano and Fr. Ivo led the discussion on reshaping provinces and formation communities in the Interamerica Region.
The criteria to evaluate the significance of a Salesian presence were presented in G25, no. 84, and are still valid today. Besides considering the significance of an individual work, Fr. Stefano challenged us to see a harmonious balance of significance in the province, and in relationship to other provinces and to the region as a whole. We are asked to think, plan and collaborate with a shared vision that extends beyond the province.
We heard once again that reshaping is more than opening and closing works. Reshaping takes into consideration new ways of managing works. A real way for us to renew our works is to improve our ability to be co-responsible for the mission with colleagues and to be together with them in formation in the mission. This may mean even having works entirely entrusted to the administration of lay people.
Another area of renewal for us would be to give pastoral attention to the critical needs of those who have recently arrived in Canada and the USA, many of whom are young and most of whom live in poverty in various forms. Ministering to immigrants has been a continual part of our province's history and invites a Salesian response today. This was confirmed by the Rector Major and the General Council at our meeting in Peru when they highlighted the phenomenon of immigration throughout our region.
During the provincial visitations this year, the opening conference was on GC28 and formation. We were able to talk about some of the criteria that have guided decisions about reshaping formation in the region. At the team meeting, the topic of reshaping formation in the region was again discussed. Here, I will just highlight some of the challenges our region faces. You will see that these are the same issues raised during our discussions about formation during the provincial visitations.
- The availability of confreres suitably prepared to be part of a formation team.
- The continuity of the growth in vocation during the phases of initial formation. The phases can feel fragmented.
- The ability to feel at ease in an intercultural community. This includes an intergenerational community.
- Formation in Salesianity for men in initial formation and for confreres who will help communicate the Salesian charism in systematic and meaningful ways in our Salesian presences.
- The difficulties of funding initial formation.
- Using a model of formation that helps the SDB grow toward holistic, integrated maturity.
- Facing social, cultural, and personal realities that are obstacles to growth in vocation: clericalism, individualism, secularism, emotional fragility, selfishness, superficiality, etc.
Practical suggestions were proposed which will be considered by provincials and their councils at their regular meetings and by delegates of formation and provincials at regional meetings. The attention given to reshaping presences and formation in the region is an expression of our desire to live and share the Salesian charism in a dynamic way, responsive to the signs of the times.
Happy Feast of St. Mary Domenica Mazzarello. May she inspire us to face the challenges and setbacks of today with faith and determination. On Monday, we begin the Novena of Mary Help of Christians. Let us pray this novena with fervor and filial confidence as Don Bosco taught us.
Fr. Tim Zak