Ash Wednesday is next week. Communities are deciding their Lenten penance. Some will agree to simply repeat what was done last year. As we recall the celebration of the 125th anniversary of Salesians' arrival to New York, I would like to propose this Lenten practice: Every SDB spends 10 percent of his time working for vocations. That’s about 40 minutes a day. Many SDBs take 20 minutes a day to pray the Rosary for vocations, but what about the other 20 minutes? Maybe you could ask all the liturgical ministers at all the Masses you attend about their vocation. Perhaps you might share stories of the Salesian holy men and women and highlight how they answered God’s call. Maybe you could accompany a weekly Bible study group and focus on the call narratives. Perhaps you can meet weekly with young people who are using To Know and To Be Known: a Prayerful Journey Into God’s Word and Mission for My Life, a discernment journal available from the province vocation office. The Spirit is creative. This Lent, we can give the Spirit time and space in our lives to find creative ways to help others grow in their vocation.
I’m happy to share an additional resource for formation in the Salesian charism with you: Hearts Present & Joyful—A Resource Outline for the Manual. You already received printed copies of Hearts Present & Joyful: A Formation Program for Salesian Ministry. The first resource, which came out last year, contains a two-year introduction to Don Bosco, the Preventive System, and Salesian Spirituality. It is very useful, especially for new colleagues in our works. The material is designed to be flexible and adapted to local circumstances. This second resource provides an outline of all the sessions in the full manual, so you can see a broad overview of the program. Each outline includes the key points and the references linked in, so you can access the digital copy with just a click. In addition, there is a list of resources for additional reading, so the participants can go deeper into the key points. Fr. Steve Shafran will send digital copies of these resources upon request.
Once again, I thank Fr. Steve Shafran and the many Salesians who were involved in the development of this formation material. It answers a real need in all our Salesian presences. In fact, our province strategic plan, Goal Four Point One, states, "Every Salesian presence uses Hearts Present & Joyful for SDBs and colleagues that are new to the work. As they are developed, other formation resources and experiences will be shared for use with the EPC councils and other groups." Since it has now been in the hands of the SDBs for a year, we can follow the province plan and put it to good use.
Hearts Present & Joyful is intended as an introduction to the Salesian charism. We need other formation material for ourselves and colleagues who have been involved in the Salesian mission for a few years. Of course, the commentary on the strenna and related resources from the Salesian Family Spirituality Days can serve this purpose. The short books that have come from the Congregation's youth ministry department—Formation in Integral Ecology, Parishes and Shrines Entrusted to the Salesians, Volunteering in the Salesian Mission, Youth Ministry and Families, etc.—also can help us be better Salesian missionaries. Note that formation for the Salesian mission does not have to be exclusively focused on Don Bosco or the Salesian charism. Teachers attending professional days, catechists taking courses for certification, and volunteers in a Bible study or adult faith formation class are all formative. The presence of the SDB directors and administrators of Salesian schools at the province meetings, Thursday, March 23, through Friday, March 24, will be formative.
Next week, young missionaries from Don Bosco Prep will be in Puerto Rico. A group of young missionaries from Le Salésien will be in Mexico City; another group will be going to Cameroon. Let us accompany them with our prayers. We look forward to hearing their testimonies and seeing some photos.
Fr. Tim Zak