08 Nov 2018
“What kind of Salesians for today’s youths?
November 8, 2018
Dear Salesian Family,
I’m sure you are aware that the Rector Major has convoked a general chapter for the SDBs to be held in Turin from February 16 to April 4, 2020. He has proposed this topic for reflection: “What kind of Salesians for today’s youths?” In the letter of convocation, Fr. Angel explains that “there is just one theme, which is divided into three points: the priority of the Salesian mission among today’s youths, the profile of the Salesian for today’s youths, and together with lay people in the mission and in formation.”
In preparation for the general chapter, each SDB province will conduct a provincial chapter. The SUE provincial chapter will be in Stony Point, March 19-23, 2019. The theme of the general chapter will be central to the discussions at the provincial chapter. The local SDB communities are in the process of completing questionnaires that will be the basis for working documents for the provincial chapter, which, in turn, will send some documents to Rome to be incorporated into the preparatory document for the general chapter.
Besides the central theme, “What kind of Salesians for today youths?”, the local communities and provincial chapter will consider nine juridical questions. At the provincial chapter, we will also review all our province policies, which will have been updated by that time. Quite a lot of work for a few days. The participation of the SDB communities in the on-going process of preparation is essential.
I mention all of this so the members of the Salesian Family can understand if the SDBs are spending a bit more time in meetings. They have a lot to discuss and are trying to get all their forms in on time to Fr. Mike Mendl, the provincial chapter moderator. I mention all this also because you, too, are involved in this process of preparation for the provincial chapter.
Let’s go back to the three points of the one theme for the general chapter; they have been broken down into questionnaires for the SDB communities to discuss, but not to discuss alone. The process began with the first point, the priority of the Salesian mission to today’s youths. The SDBs were to be creative in listening to and engaging young people (principally young adults) in the discussion. Some communities asked students to complete written questionnaires; then the SDBs reviewed a compilation of the responses. Some SDB communities included the topic for discussion in already established youth groups. Some brought young people into the community to share in a more personal way the young persons’ experience of the Salesian mission.
Now the SDB communities are discussing the third point, “together with lay people in the mission and formation.” As with the point on young people, the SDBs have been asked to listen to and engage collaborators and members of the Salesian Family in the discussion. If you have not been invited to the discussions yet, please speak with the local SDB director or leader of the work (president, pastor, etc.) They may ask you to complete a written questionnaire, as some young people did, which will then be shared with the SDB community. They may invite you to an SDB community meeting to share in a more personal way your experience of collaboration in our shared mission. They may include the topic of shared responsibility for the mission on the agenda of already scheduled meetings. With the SDBs, you may have some other creative ways to further the reflection and growth of the charism in our province.
A few things are clear from the beginning. We are not going through this process only to complete forms and write reports. Fr. Angel has given us not only a topic for discussion, but also a methodology to be followed. It is important for the SDBs to listen to and share responsibility for the mission with the young adults and lay collaborators, and this moment of preparation for the provincial chapter and always. We also realized we are not following this methodology only to prepare for the provincial chapter. It is style of ministry and relationship which we are learning to value more and more, since it is effective and it is the way Don Bosco worked.
With these reflections, I’m sending a gentle reminder to the SDBs that all the forms for Topics 1-3 should be completed and sent to the chapter moderator by the end of next week. And once again I repeat that this process of preparation for the provincial chapter and general chapter is not to complete forms, but to live our Salesian vocation, giving ourselves generously to the mission which we share with many others.
This is National Vocation Awareness Week, and next week we celebrate the memorials of Bl. Artemides Zatti and Bl. Madeleine Morano. Let us take advantage of this moment to make bold proposals to the young to live as Salesians, and let us all give joyful witness to the Salesian vocation we have received.
God bless you.
Fr. Tim Zak