19 Nov 2020
Message of the Provincial | November 19, 2020
At the end of General Chapter 28, Fr. Ángel posed this question: “Do you not think that God has really spoken to us, and extensively so, over these four weeks, even though, due to the early closure of our work because of the coronavirus pandemic, we have not arrived at a voted and approved Chapter document?” He then answered his own question with an enthusiastic “yes!” We didn’t have an approved document by the time we left Turin, but those who participated in the Chapter had a clear sense that God had still spoken to us in many ways—through the experience of being in Valdocco, through the strong bond of fraternity among the Salesians coming from every continent, through the presence of the young adults and other guest presenters, through the vibrant discussions in the commissions, through the election of the Rector Major and the General Council.
Even though the Chapter did not approve an official document, every community should have received (or will soon receive) a 166-page book with documents related to GC28. Thanks to Fr. Dave Moreno for sending them out. After the Chapter, the newly elected General Council continued its prayerful discernment on the themes of the Chapter: 1. Priority of the Salesian mission among today’s young people; 2. Profile of the Salesian today; 3. Together with laypeople in mission and formation. Building upon the work that had already been done by the Provincial Chapters, the pre-capitular committee, the working document, and the commissions during the Chapter, the General Council was able to develop a rather extensive post-chapter reflection entitled, “What Kind of Salesians for the Youth of Today?” It follows a now-familiar process of recognizing, interpreting, and choosing for each of the themes. The Rector Major then further developed this reflection into an action program, the Rector Major’s Guidelines for Salesian Congregation for the next six years. Digital versions of these documents were forwarded to all the confreres of the province in August. They became a constant point of reference for the final draft of our province strategic plan which was reviewed at the fall leadership meeting.
The “Post-Chapter Documents” that are now available in print include other documents, the most important one being the Message of Pope Francis to the Members of GC28 entitled, “Rekindle the Gift You Have Received: The Valdocco Option.” It is the document most quoted in the post-chapter reflections and the Congregation’s six-year action program. With Valdocco as the backdrop, Pope Francis re-presents to us the choices Don Bosco made at the Oratory when he was discerning his mission to the young which he shared with a vast movement of people. The Pope’s message could easily be the basis for a “Salesian Lectio Divina.” It provides the framework for our province strategic plan.
Along with the Message of Pope Francis, you will find in the printed document the deliberations of GC28, the opening and closing addresses of the Rector Major, the intervention of Cardinal Bra de Aviz, the Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Letter from the Young People (Gui Lopes was a leader among the young adults who joined the Chapter for a week and gave us this heartfelt message.), a summary of work carried out by GC28 and a list of participants. All of these documents (and more) are available in Word format on a Google drive. Please email if you would like access to the drive.
I felt it is important to draw attention to the printed Post-Chapter Documents because they are one more way God is speaking to us. If the Chapter members could join the Rector Major in answering his initial question with an enthusiastic “Yes, God has spoken to us during the Chapter,” now all the confreres can likewise say, “God is speaking to us through these documents.” They give direction to our Congregation and province for the next six years. They inspire personal renewal in our Salesian religious vocation. They can motivate us to generously share in the Church and in our local Salesian presences the gift of the Salesian charism for the salvation of the young.
God bless you.
Fr. Tim Zak