Message of the Provincial | September 3, 2020

03 Sep 2020

Photo Credit: Fr. Mike Mendl, SDB

Dear Confreres,

In my wallet, I have an American Automobile Association (AAA) Plus membership card. It gives me a bit of security, knowing that if I break down on the road, all I have to do is call AAA and someone will come to help. The AAA card also gives me access to other services the organization offers, like the travel triptiks. I can remember a road trip that Emile Dube and I took from New Jersey through Virginia to Louisiana, then back through Alabama and Kentucky to New Jersey. We went to the AAA office, gave them our destinations, and they prepared a series of maps, conveniently put together in order for us. We relied upon the AAA triptiks to help us find the best roads to travel, rest stops, restaurants, etc. Now AAA has adapted to the digital age and provides those services on electronic devices.

Two weeks ago, all the SDBs received a copy of the Rector Major’s Action Program after GC 28. In some ways, the Rector Major and the General Council have given us the updated AAA triptiks for the next six years of the Salesian Society. The program identifies eight priorities, explains them, shows how they are in continuity with the previous six years of the Congregation, and then presents challenging proposals with lines of action. It is like a road map that we can follow to renew the Salesian spirit and mission in our hearts, in our communities and works, and in our province. Because the General Chapter ended early, there are no “chapter documents” in the usual sense. The Rector Major’s reflections and this action program fully convey to us the themes of GC28, and the direction we must travel. General Chapters often times get criticized for producing long documents that sit on confrere’s shelves. Here we have practical guidance for our Salesian life.

Just before we received the Rector Major’s Action Program, I had sent the updated province strategic plan to all the confreres. Like the Rector Major’s program, this plan is meant to give the province clear direction for the next three years. It grew out of many hours of study and prayer on our provincial chapter, the extraordinary visitation of Fr. Tim Ploch, the Rector Major’s concluding letter and a variety of documents connected to GC28. It includes the plans of animation of all the province delegates. Now that we have the Action Program of the Congregation, we will be able to make some further revisions to our province plan to ensure that we are moving in the same direction, with one mind and one heart, as the Congregation.

These plans will be a substantial part of the agenda for our fall leadership meeting, September 24-25. Confreres are invited to review the documents before the meetings so our discussions can be that much more meaningful. Part of the provincial visitation this year will be a dialogue with the confreres about how you are incorporating the priorities of the Congregation’s Action Program and the province strategic plan into your community plans and local SEPPs.

The AAA membership card I have does not only give me a sense of security on the road and access to services like travel triptiks—it challenges me to adapt to the real world. Instead of having to make an appointment, go to an office, and wait for a paper map, I can now get similar information almost instantaneously on the AAA app. The American Automobile Association has had to change the way they did things. Our Salesian plans reflect the need to change, to continue our conversion, and to be responsive to the reality around us. We have a valuable treasure in the Salesian charism; we don’t want it to lose its relevance because of our resistance to change.

Fr. Steve Ryan and Fr. Dave Moreno will be sending out more information about the fall leadership meeting as needed. As we get closer to this gathering, please keep this intention in your prayers.

God bless you all.

Fr. Tim Zak

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