"The Role of the Director"

Message of the Provincial | May 13 2021

Dear Confreres,

In some dioceses, today is the Solemnity of the Ascension. In other dioceses, this celebration is transferred to Sunday. Whenever we celebrate this mystery, let us place all our trust in Jesus, seated “at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us” (Rm. 8:24).

In 1863, Michael Rua was 26 years old. Don Bosco had agreed to send Salesians to a school in Mirabello. He chose the young Rua as the director, and the members of the local council were three clerics. The cleric Paul Albera and five other clerics were the rest of the staff. Before sending Rua to the school, Don Bosco gave him fatherly advice, which Don Bosco wrote out himself a few weeks later and sent to Rua. These wise norms have remained in the Congregation as a guide to Salesian directors. It is here we find the famous statement, “Strive to make people love you rather than fear you” (The Biographical Memoirs, Vol. VII, Chapter 52). The role of the director has developed and adapted over the past 158 years without losing its connection to Don Bosco. In the living tradition of the Congregation, a new book on the director has been published, Animating and Governing the Community: The Ministry of the Salesian Rector. Copies of the book were sent to all the confreres earlier this year.

During the directors' workshop this July, the directors and provincial councilors will be introduced to this new book. Fr. Ivo Coelho, general counselor for formation, and Fr. Silvio Roggia, a member of the formation team in Rome, will be part of this discussion. It is important that we understand that this book is not a manual for the directors. And it is intended for all SDBs and even the leaders of the EPC. Moreover, it will help us stay true to Don Bosco’s vision of leadership in the Salesian religious and pastoral communities while responding to the current reality in which we live.

I ask each SDB community to incorporate the study of this document into your ongoing formation plan for the next academic-pastoral year. I imagine you would want to reserve at least four sessions, an introduction, and one session for each part of the book. We have videos, PowerPoint presentations, and handouts available with questions that can make these study days very meaningful and easy to organize. In the spirit of GC28, I recommend you put on the calendar some study sessions on the same topic with the lay leaders as well. The resources are available at https://www.sdb.org/en/Departments/Formation/Multimedia in English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese. I can also send them to you. (The other theme for ongoing formation in the community will be meditation. This is very appropriate as we continue the Year of Fr. Albera and prepare for the Year of St. Francis de Sales.)

Besides being the Solemnity of the Ascension, we also remember the Feast of St. Mary Domenica Mazzarello. We greet the FMAs and the past pupils of Salesian Sisters’ schools and pastoral works. The external feast can be transferred to May 15, which is also the day we begin the Novena to Mary Help of Christians. I encourage everyone to use the videos and printed material from the Congregation. We unite with the entire Salesian Family in praying to the Blessed Mother for the young, our confreres, vocations to the Salesian Family, our benefactors and colleagues, an end to the pandemic, and so many other needs. This month, we also remember St. Luigi Orione (May 16), St. Leonardo Murialdo (May 18), and Bl. Joseph Kowalski (May 29).  Many local communities will be joining together to celebrate Mary Help of Christians on May 22. Please send a short article and photos of your celebrations to Salesian News at communications@salesians.org. We will dedicate much of the May 27 edition to our celebrations of Mary Help of Christians.

Mary Help of Christians and all the Salesian Saints and Blesseds, pray for us.

Fr. Tim Zak

May 13, 2021 - 7:00am

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