06 Sep 2018
Rector Major Visit: Fr. Angel Fernandez in Surrey
by Fr. Tim Zak, SDB
(Surrey, B.C. – September 5) – Fr. Angel Fernandez Artime began his visit to the Canadian section of the province of the Eastern United States and Canada (SUE) on Monday, September 3. He and Fr. Horacio Lopez, the Rector Major’s secretary, were greeted at the Vancouver airport by a group of Salesian young people and their adult leaders, together with Salesian Cooperators, SDBs from the Salesian presence in Surrey, and the entire SUE provincial council. They returned to Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Surrey, where the SDBs and some Salesian Cooperators congratulated Fr. Angel on his 40th anniversary of profession. During his visit, Fr. Tim Ploch, general councilor for the Interamerica Region, is accompanying Fr. Angel and acting as translator.
On Tuesday, September 4, Fr. Angel presided at the parish morning Mass. The Knights of Columbus and leaders in the Polish community prepared a hearty breakfast for the Rector Major and the Salesian Family. For the rest of the morning, the Rector Major met with the SUE provincial council. With fatherly concern and brotherly support, he invited the members of the council to share some of the strengths and challenges of the province. They also discussed the service of leadership of the provincial and the council.
The Rector Major observed that the province is not asleep but is full of life, and it shows signs of great hope: new vocations, a good sense among the confreres of our religious consecration, and some clear choices to work for the poorest youths, especially among immigrants. He offered some guidance in charting the way ahead, including transparency and accountability for leadership at all levels, and clarity in the mission—Salesians are dedicated to young people, especially those living in poverty and most at risk. The province should not feel bound to the way things have always been done in the past, but face today’s challenges with a realistic assessment of the situation, creativity, and flexibility, as Don Bosco would do.
Archbishop Michael Miller, CSB, of Vancouver joined the Rector Major and the Salesian Family for a lunch prepared by the Catholic Women’s League of the parish. In the afternoon, Fr. Angel met with the SDBs from Surrey and Edmonton and the provincial council. After having visited 80 provinces and personally greeting 10,400 SDBs, he is able to speak confidently about the good health and beauty of the Salesian Congregation. Despite difficulties, which are part of life, we can see so much good being done by Salesians on every continent. Fr. Angel spoke with the confreres about challenges facing the Congregation today, including the continual need to deepen our sense of religious consecration and strengthen our Salesian identity. Acknowledging our limitations and even failures as individuals and as a Congregation, we move forward on the path of conversion and purification, so as to give clearer witness to the beauty of our vocation.
At Vespers Fr. Angel received the promises of two new Salesian Cooperators as well as the renewal of the promises of all the Cooperators present. Vespers was followed by a festive dinner prepared by various groups of the Salesian Family: SDBs, FMAs, Salesian Cooperators, ADMA, leaders of the Salesian Youth Movement, and past pupils from Canada, the USA, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Colombia, Poland, Italy, and India.
The evening concluded with an encounter with the young people of the Salesian presence in Surrey. The children’s choir from Our Lady of Good Counsel Elementary School began the youthful gathering with a song. This was followed by songs from the Hispanic choir. Fr. Angel offered a few thoughts and then entered a dialog with the young, answering their questions about his vocation, living the faith in today’s secular society, the value of the arts in Salesian education and the lives of the young, etc. Members of the Praise Team danced—and Fr. Angel joined them on the dance floor.
Participants in this evening encounter were invited to honor the Rector Major’s visit by contributing to a fund to dig a well in Ghana. Contributions can be made at www.salesianmissions.org. The evening concluded with everyone joining in singing “San Juan Bosco, Bienvenido,” and posing for a large group photo.
On Wednesday, September 5, Fr. Angel presided again at the parish’s morning Mass. He then blessed the convent of the Salesian Sisters, who arrived in Surrey just one month ago. He greeted the students at Our Lady of Good Counsel Elementary School and gave the Good Morning thought. From Surrey, Fr. Angel will travel to Toronto, continuing his six-day visit to the Canadian parts of the SUE province.
See the pictures of the visit on ANS Flickr