20 Dec 2018

Dear Salesian Family,

Looking back over 2018, certainly one of the significant events for our province was the visit of the Rector Major to Canada. Although the intention was to visit Canada and the USA, for various reasons that did not happen. We all benefited, however, from having the tenth successor of Don Bosco at three of the presences of our province: Surrey, B.C., Etobicoke, Ont., and Montreal, Que. The visit was shared on our province website, social media, and weekly newsletter.

Instead of mementos for the visit of the Rector Major, the central committee planning Fr. Angel Fernandez’s reception invited the province’s Salesian presences to contribute to a common project connected to the 2018 Strenna. The strenna for this year is: “‘Sir, give me this water.’ Let us cultivate the art of listening and accompaniment.” Taking the words of the Samaritan woman as a cry from the young people today who lack fresh water to drink, the committee and province decided that contributions would go to fund a well project in Africa. The planning committee had hoped to fund one or two wells. I am happy to report that we will be able to fund at least five water projects in three provinces of Africa!

  • In the villages of Sunyani and Tatale, Ghana, 3 wells, $5,200 each, for a total of $15,600.
  • At the Don Bosco Children’s Center, Burkina Faso, a solar water pump for potable drinking water, $5,500.
  • At the Chem Chem Youth Center in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo, the installation of an integrated pump, tank, and drilling well, $28,000.

If you would like to contribute to other water projects in honor of the Rector Major, please go to www.salesianmissions.org.  Click on the red box “GIVE NOW” in the upper right of the page. Under “select a program,” choose Rector Major Water Project.

Of course, the strenna “Sir, give me this water,” was not intended to be taken only literally. It expresses the perennial need for us Salesians to listen to the cry of the young and accompany them as they make the journey of faith toward vocational discernment. The joyful living of our own vocation can give convincing witness that the Lord wants to be close to each young person today. We can help them be attuned to his call. Like the woman at the well who went back to her town to tell about her encounter with Jesus, the young people can become evangelizers of other young people.

Thanks to all the members of the core committee, and especially Fr. Abe Feliciano and Fr. Dominic Tran, the committee chairmen. Thanks to all of you for your prayers and financial contributions. Thanks to Fr. Mark and Salesian Missions for helping to manage the well projects. Thanks for heeding the message of the Rector Major and making it come alive.

This report on the water projects in honor of the Rector Major might be seen as a strange topic to write about just days before Christmas. I present it to you as a reflection on the marvelous yet ordinary ways the Lord enters our lives. Aware of the presence of the Lord and his mighty deeds, we give him thanks. This year, we were able to welcome Fr. Angel and Fr. Horacio to our province. Individuals and communities were generous in contributing to the well project as a lasting tribute to the Rector Major. Many young people in need of potable water will have that need met. In all of this, God has made himself manifest in our world today. Let us give him thanks.

This Sunday, we will hear the Gospel of the Visitation. Elizabeth and John in the womb recognized the presence of the Lord even before his birth! Mary sang of the marvelous things God has done. May we have the same contemplative attitude to be attentive to the presence of Jesus in our lives and also the boldness of the Spirit to share Jesus with everyone we meet.

 

A blessed Christmas to you all.

 

Fr. Tim Zak

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