08 Oct 2020
Message to the Province | October 8, 2020
By Fr. Tim Ploch, SDB
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Salesian Family,
Fr. Tim Zak kindly invited me to write a reflection for Salesian News as we begin the month of October, Month of the Holy Rosary.
I’ve always prayed the Rosary. My mother would gather myself and my four siblings after supper and have us say the Rosary together. We always offered the intention “that Daddy would become a Catholic,” even though he was right there, too. So when I got to the aspirantate, the daily rosary was nothing new to me. And, of course, it has been a mainstay of my prayer life all along, even in Rome! But more about that later . . .
My love and fidelity to the Rosary really deepened when I was assigned to Holy Rosary Parish in 1999. Many people prayed the Rosary before and after Mass, or before the Blessed Sacrament in the adoration chapel, or up at the residence in front of the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, and especially during the street processions to a nearby park to celebrate our outdoor Mass on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, so many jostling to take turns shouldering the heavy statue of Our Lady of the Rosary, our parish patron.
Oh yes, that statue. When I first got there, I didn’t notice a statue of Mary Help of Christians in any prominent place in the church. So I thought I would replace the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary in the sanctuary with Mary Help of Christians. We were a Salesian parish after all! By the way, that statue is original to the beginning of the parish in 1902, carved in wood, ordered from Italy. No sooner did word of my plan get out, and I was forcibly dissuaded from that imprudent idea, especially by longstanding parishioners. Not even our Lady of Guadalupe could replace the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary!
I previously mentioned that the Rosary has been a mainstay in my life, even in Rome. While living at the Pisana, it felt natural to stroll around the building saying the Rosary in groups every evening. This changed when the Generalate moved to Sacro Cuore in downtown Rome. The bucolic and beautiful roadways of the Pisana gave way to noisy, crowded, and busy Roman streets. As a result, I became more and more drawn to that side altar of Mary in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart where Don Bosco, old, tired, sick, and feeble, said one of his final Masses in December of 1887. There, he broke down with that defining inspiration that all he had done since the beginning in Valdocco, and now starting to spread all over the world, was really done by Her.
Brothers and sisters in the Salesian Family, let this Month of the Holy Rosary spur us all to renew and rekindle our faithfulness to the daily recitation of the Rosary. Scripture tells us that Mary reflected in her heart on all the mysteries she had seen and lived. When we say the Rosary, that’s really what we’re doing too, not babbling on like the pagans, but reflecting on, praying with, and contemplating all the mysteries of our salvation in the best company possible, with Mary who teaches us how.
Pope Francis has urged us as a Congregation to rekindle the gift we have received. Don Bosco received the gift of his mission through Mary’s hands and developed it starting at Valdocco. Now it’s our turn to continue that same mission in our own day and time. Our province is in the strategic planning mode. All those plans will bear no fruit unless we allow Mary to “do it all” now like Don Bosco did then. And how can we forget the dangerous and difficult times our nation is living now, a nation whose patron is Mary Immaculate. Turn to her for protection, help, strength, and miracles. Be good Americans, say the Rosary every day. Be good Salesians, say the Rosary every day. Be good Catholics, say the Rosary every day!
Fr. Tim Ploch, SDB
PS: By the way, Daddy did become a Catholic just before passing away. Mary did that, too!