23 May 2019

Dear Salesian Family,

Tomorrow is the Solemnity of Mary, Help of Christians!  I wish you all many blessings and assure you that you are in my prayers, as we turn to Mary with the same filial trust that Don Bosco placed in her.

We arrive at the Solemnity of Mary having participated in the novena and other devotions.  Maybe you were able to incorporate the videos from the Rector Major into your community prayer, or you used the simple pamphlet from the vocation office, or some other prayer resource.  These nine days help us ready our hearts to celebrate this feast with great enthusiasm.  Throughout the province, Salesian presences will come together for festive activities, including processions, Mass and confessions, conferences and fellowship.  I thank all those who are organizing these special local and regional celebrations.

This weekend is also the conclusion of the extraordinary visitation of Fr. Tim Ploch, general counselor for the Interamerica Region.  He has been in the SUE province for four months, visited every SDB community, met with province commissions and delegations, as well as groups of the Salesian Family, groups of young people, bishops and so many more individuals.  He will present the concluding report on Memorial Day at the Marian Shrine, Stony Point, first to the SDB directors at 9 AM and then to all the confreres at 11 AM.  Please keep Fr. Tim and this extraordinary visitation in your prayers.

In Christus Vivit, Pope Francis includes a few beautiful paragraphs on Mary, the young woman of Nazareth, which deserve our attention as Salesians, especially during the celebrations of Mary Help.  He writes, “In the heart of the Church, Mary shines forth.  She is the supreme model for a youthful Church that seeks to follow Christ with enthusiasm and docility.  While still very young, she accepted the message of the angel, yet she was not afraid to ask questions (cf. Lk :34).  With open heart and soul, she replied, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord” (Lk 1:38). (Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit, 43)

The Pope’s reflection spurs us on to help the young people consider on their own calling from God, first to a life of holiness, and then to a specific vocation in the Church.  Mary’s “yes” challenges us to renew our own joyful response to God’s calling.  Meditation on the Annunciation reminds us that the Lord has never ceased calling all people to a deeper, more personal relationship with himself.  He is calling the young people today to repeat Mary’s “yes” in their own lives.  Our witness, invitation and accompaniment can help the young be attuned to the Lord’s voice and courageous in their own “yes” to his call.

This time of year, in addition to celebrating Mary Help of Christians, many of our Salesian presences have graduations to prepare.  It’s not unusual to hear teachers say to the graduating class, “Don’t forget us; come back and visit us; this will always be your home.”  These sentiments express true characteristics of the Oratory, however they cannot remain mere sentiments or encouraging words.  It would be worthwhile for our SDB communities and Salesian presences to consider the practical ways we will continue to create a welcoming environment, maintain contact and offer programs for the young when they have graduated.

Once again, Happy Feast of Mary Help of Christians! With Mary’s intercession, may God bless our Salesian Family with renewed fervor and new vocations.

 

Fr. Tim Zak

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