This week, we have begun the annual retreats. We are blessed to have Fr. Michael Murray, the vice provincial for the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, preach the June retreats, and Fr. Eunan McDonnell, the Salesian provincial of Ireland, preach the August retreats. Some confreres joined the SUO province for retreat. In line with the strenna, the retreat theme focuses on St. Francis de Sales and Salesian spirituality. I am certain this will be a valuable moment for spiritual renewal.
In some Salesian presences, the summer apostolates have already begun. I thank you for the generosity and creativity typical of Salesians in these varied summer activities. We have confreres helping in recreational summer camps, bicycle excursions, Gospel Roads and other extended service retreats, special religious education classes, chaplains to retreats and summer programs of the FMA. Some confreres are taking classes or workshops for their professional qualifications. Directors and other confreres in administrative roles will use the time to plan the next academic pastoral year: calendars, conferences, days of recollection, formation for colleagues, etc.
In the midst of all this activity, I would like to underline the importance of accompanying young adults. This is not one more task to add to an already busy schedule. It is an encouragement to take advantage of already existing moments with young adults to make these times more meaningful. All our summer camps involve young adults as staff. It is not too much extra work to offer these dedicated collaborators some spiritual experiences specifically for their life circumstances. Most catechism programs don’t have classes during the summer. This gives the young adult catechists a little more time to concentrate on their own spiritual lives. Recent graduates will still feel a connection to their alma mater. We can strengthen that connection with some moments of prayer and recreation during the summer. The young coaches assisting at sports camps can be offered a space and a Salesian guide to talk about life and faith. In all of these opportunities of being present to young adults, we have the chance to help them listen to God’s call and discern their vocation.
Looking ahead to the next academic pastoral year, we recall the importance of Salesian formation for ministry, using the recently published Hearts Present and Joyful. This province resource was developed through the contribution of many confreres under the direction of Fr. Steve Shafran. With 16 sessions, it is designed to be used over two years, but it can be adapted to a variety of circumstances. In fact, some Salesian works are already using it. It could easily serve as an on-going formation program for groups of the Salesian Family. In January, I reminded everyone that Hearts Present and Joyful should be used in all our works as part of the Salesian formation for SDBs and colleagues new to the work. After having these months to review it, please let me know if you need more copies. If there is sufficient need, we will print more.
This Sunday, June 12, Joshua Sciullo and eight other SDBS will be ordained deacons by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM. The ordination will be at 10:00 am (local time) in the Church of All Nations, Gethsemane, Jerusalem. Fr. Dave Moreno will represent the province at Joshua’s ordination. Let us support Joshua and his companions with our prayers. The ordination will be live- streamed via Christian Media Center - English on YouTube.
Fr. Tim Zak