The Salesian Spirit and Mission

Message of the Provincial 02.24.22

Dear Confreres,

Tomorrow is the Feast of Sts. Luigi Versiglia and Callisto Caravario. Their example encourages us to give courageous witness to our Salesian vocation, especially its missionary dimension. We can also pray for the Church in China.

From Thursday, February 3 through Friday, February 11, the provincials and provincial councils of our region were in Quito, Ecuador for a retreat preached by the Rector Major. You may have seen some of the photos on Facebook or in ANS. It was an incredible experience which the provincial council and I will be able share with you in different ways in the coming months. The retreat began with a day of fellowship. Some of us went to the "Mitad del Mundo," where a large monument marks the equator. Each day of the retreat included a morning talk by Fr. Ángel and an afternoon dialogue. Those present could ask the Rector Major questions, and he responded with spontaneity and, often times, passion. Topics for the morning sessions included an interpretation of the statistics of the region, the provincial and council members as men of faith like Don Bosco, the roles of the provincial and provincial council in the writings of the Rector Major, the Salesian sacrament of presence, proclaiming Jesus Christ, and serving the poorest youth. The topics for the afternoon dialogue were varied and included comments on challenges in our region, confreres in irregular situations, synodality, the revision of the Ratio, the reorganization of houses of formation, vocations, relationships with bishops and Salesian identity, clericalism and "diocesanization" of religious life, Salesian saints, and how to choose the theme for strennas. The dialogues were lively and filled with interesting anecdotes. I have to admit that it was sometimes hard to keep up with the conversation because it moved along quickly, and it was all in Spanish.

Unfortunately, not every provincial or council member was able to attend. Some tested positive for Covid-19 or didn’t receive their test results in time for travel, while others didn’t attend for immigration or other reasons. Still, there was a strong sense of fraternity among those who gathered for the retreat. Several participants commented that this experience made them much more aware of the broad internationality of the Congregation and the diversity of our region, while not fracturing the unity of the Salesian spirit and mission.

After the retreat, the provincials stayed in Quito for a few more days of meetings. These were the first in-person meetings since the beginning of the pandemic. We discussed the ongoing process of renewing the Salesian charism in our region, the Network of Salesian Social Works of America (RASS), the "Salesianity" of Don Bosco, the regional centers of ongoing formation (Quito and Berkeley), vocations and initial formation, and the missionary vocation ad gentes. As with the retreat, the provincials’ meeting was interesting, fraternal, and lively. The hospitality of the Ecuador province was incredible.

During the retreat, Fr. Ángel confirmed his visit to the USA in November this year. His visit highlights the 125th anniversary of the presence of SDBs in the USA and the 75th anniversary of Salesian Missions, New Rochelle. He will be in the SUO province from Tuesday, November 15 through Monday, November 21, and in the SUE province from Monday, November 21 through Friday, November 25. That’s the week of Thanksgiving. Fr. Hugo Orozco, our regional, will accompany the Rector Major for most of his visit. In light of the Rector Major’s visit and the 125th anniversary of SDBs in the USA, I ask that this year’s gift from the communities to the province be used for these historic occasions. I’ve requested Fr. Mike Conway to chair the planning committee for the events related to the Rector Major’s visit to SUE. Additionally, Fr. Gus Baek is working closely with a team to plan a number of events throughout the year to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Salesian Missions, including a gala on Tuesday, November 22. I ask all members of our province to set aside the time to meet the Rector Major in person while he is visiting SUO and SUE. We’ll keep you informed as more details become available.

In Don Bosco,

Fr. Tim Zak

February 24, 2022 - 8:00am

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