By Fr. Lou Molinelli, SDB, Province Delegate of Youth Ministry
Welcome to the beginning of another pastoral year! Traditionally, July 1 marks the transition for us from one year to the next. This transition also marks the beginning of transitions in ministry. For some Salesians, this marks the beginning of a new pastoral assignment or a change in the current assignment. For our young people, the transition is marked by a promotion to the next grade, a welcome into the organization of past pupils, or the transition into young adult life. For our lay collaborators, it is the continuous and organic growth in one’s Salesian vocation and commitment to participate in the journey of accompaniment with the young. Whatever the new pastoral year calls us to, we Salesian Family members are ready to embrace the call of selfless dedication to our vocation.
We are already three years into studying and living the theme of the Salesian General Chapter 28 (GC28) entitled, “What kind of Salesian for the youth of today?” At this juncture, I would like to reflect on what that means for us in our vocational journey. While it is a call for the Salesians of Don Bosco to study and embrace, I believe these elements are also challenges for all of us in the Salesian Family. I would like to reflect on one per week.
Salesians of Don Bosco Forever. Six Years for Growth in Salesian Identity
We are reminded that the call to follow Jesus needs to shape our identity. We become "...a living memorial of Jesus’ way of living and acting" (Vita Consecrata, 22). Thus, we are always returning to the source of our lives, Jesus Christ, renouncing everything that is not Him or that distances us from Him. We are reminded that our icon of following Christ is the Good Shepherd. We are to be witnesses of God’s fatherly presence which is characterized by the tender gaze of the Shepherd with arms thrown wide open, especially to the poorest young people. This is why we need to continue to renew our contact with the Lord Jesus every day, sometimes many times a day, so that we do not forget our primary role as followers of Christ and his alluring gaze.
For all of us in the Salesian Family, our Baptism has incorporated us into the family of God and of the Church. Within that baptismal call, we have been called to a particular love for the young through the Salesian charism. Each day, we renew our "yes" to follow the Lord in the spirit of Christ the Good Shepherd whom we see modeled in the life of St. John Bosco. It is a daily commitment to stay forever with Don Bosco and to be totally committed to his vision and mission. When challenged to stay with Don Bosco, the young John Cagliero said, "Monk or no monk, I am staying with Don Bosco." May we be fully committed to this charism, which is rooted in the heart of Christ.