Wednesday, April 18, 2018

"Now I Understand Don Bosco!"

“Now I Understand Don Bosco!”
Muslim Teachers from Morocco Visit Salesian Holy Places

(ANS – Kenitra, Morocco – April 18) - The Salesian center of Kenitra, active in Morocco since 1937, organized a visit to the Salesian sites from April 9 to 17. Seven of the school’s teachers, all Muslims, they were accompanied by the director of the institute, Fr. José Antonio Vega.

The teachers in the Salesian school of Kenitra are exclusively Muslim, and the course on Islam is mandatory. The Salesian charism is, however, well-known thanks to the constant presence of Salesians among the young and many educators consider themselves “Salesian Muslims.”

On this occasion, Fr. Vega organized a formation program that included a visit to all the Salesian holy places: Valdocco, the city of Turin, Becchi and Colle Don Bosco, and Chieri. The Salesian communities of Colle, Chieri, and Valdocco, aware of this experience, invited the group to share meals with them, to learn more about the meaning of this initiative.

Teachers from Kenitra in the church of St. Francis de Sales at the Oratory in Valdocco
The Salesian center of Kenitra now has 1,400 students and 80 Muslim teachers. The different sectors of the Salesian center (kindergarten and elementary, middle, and high schools) experience an ongoing dialog with the Muslim world in their own daily lives, apply Salesian pedagogy, respect their surrounding world, and bear witness with the utmost respect.

Don Bosco is known and loved by everyone. For this reason, it seemed that the time had come to respond to suggestions from the teachers themselves, who had expressed a wish for formation as Salesian “cooperators” and wanted to learn about the sites where Don Bosco was born and lived. At the beginning of the school year, this idea was proposed to a small group and some accepted, paying the costs of their trip themselves.

The aim of the initiative is that teachers, parents, young people, and past pupils may live this profound experience of Salesian spirit and content.

All the participants returned to Morocco happy and admired: “I have known Don Bosco for years, but now I’m able to understand much more, and above all the reason for his work for the young,” said one of the teachers at the end of the experience.

The Salesian center in Kenitra also includes a small parish for foreigners, mainly young African university students, which brings together about a hundred faithful from about 30 countries at its Sunday Mass.

“In everything we do, we want to be a little bridge (which is the meaning of the name Kenitra) between Christians and Muslims. This small ‘witnessing’ church in a city that is 100% Muslim is significant for the life of the Church,” the Salesians in Morocco conclude.

The Church for Amazonia, Amazonia for the Church

The Church for Amazonia,
Amazonia for the Church

(ANS - Vatican City – April 17) – On April 12-13, the first pre-synodal council meeting of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region was held, with Pope Francis presiding. The theme of the synod, scheduled for October 2019, is “Amazonia: new paths for the Church and for an integral ecology.”

The meeting was attended by the 18 members of the council and 13 experts, who examined the draft of the preparatory document for the synod. A Salesian of Tuyuca origin, Fr. Justino Sarmento Rezende, the first indigenous Salesian ordained to the priesthood, 24 years ago, was among the participants. (Fr. Rezende belongs to the SDB Campo Grande Province in Brazil, based in Mato Grasso State.)

After related proposals for improvement, the document was approved by the council and will now be transmitted, together with a questionnaire, to all episcopal conferences and other bodies involved to start pre-synodal consultations.

“The Church is watching us. It is with us with its heart and mind, placing in the people of Amazonia the hope of receiving important contributions, so that the Church may be in time grow increasingly rooted at the local and more universal level,” said a satisfied Fr. Rezende.

Fr. Rezende was also the author of one of the reports presented to the council, which he did on April 12. In addition to expressing his joy at being able to meet Pope Francis for the first time, he expressed his wish, on behalf of the indigenous peoples, to “give thanks for the many missionaries, priests, and bishops who gave their lives for us, the peoples of Amazonia and the indigenous peoples. Some were martyred to defend us, and many of them acquired an indigenous face, learning its culture, language, and traditions, and today they are buried in mission lands.... Thanks to this missionary work, many lay people in the Church, catechists, extraordinary ministers, religious, and priests have emerged. And this is the face we must offer as a Church.”

According to the Salesian, the synod will be “a very important moment to show the ways of the Church in our region and to propose new paths, keeping in mind our Christian life and our commitment to the defense of nature, our way of practicing an economy, sustainability, and pastoral life....”

“We indigenous peoples, evangelized and evangelizers, can contribute to the enrichment of our Church,” concluded Fr. Rezende.

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Light of Christ in the Heart of the Church

The Light of Christ in the Heart of the Church

(ANS – Rome – April 13) – A seminar to consider issues concerning the promotion of the causes of beatification and canonization in the Salesian Family took place in Rome, April 10-14.  On its 4th day Fr. François-Marie Lethel, a Carmelite, showed participants how holiness is able to unite in a wonderful and fascinating synthesis the scientia fidei, “knowledge based on faith,” or as Benedict XVI called it, scientia amoris, “knowledge of love.”

The day had already begun with a call to discernment and compassion as the main roads indicated by the Pope as calls to holiness, also stressed in the recent apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate.  That came in the homily preached at morning Mass by Fr. Francesco Cereda, vicar of the Rector Major.

Fr. Lethel, uniting great depth of thought with simplicity of language, indicated how discernment and compassion, faith and love, are the paths which the saints have traveled and opened for everyone, where one finds that unity between faith and life, theory and practice, earth and heaven which is at the heart of the Christian mystery.

A particularly fascinating element, which the Carmelite priest made his audience tangibly perceive, is the communion between saints and charisms, “as in heaven, so on earth.”  The saints have never been jealous or parochial, and it is surprising to see how already in their earthly experience there was an admirable exchange of gifts between Dominic, Francis, Ignatius, Teresa, John of the Cross, et al.  The same can be seen in Don Bosco, for those who listen attentively to his spirituality.  Indeed, communion is the very heart of holiness, that is, life in God.  Charisms do not add up; they multiply when communion intensifies.

In concluding his address, Fr. Lethel – who in 2011 preached the annual retreat to Benedict XVI and the Roman Curia, receiving praise and thanks – expressed himself an enthusiastic admirer of the venerable Salesian Fr. Joseph Quadrio, a “perfect example of the religious saint, priest, theologian, and mystic,” and of Salesian Cooperator Vera Grita,” a humble consecrated lay person in whom I joyfully discovered a great mysticism of the Eucharist, perhaps one of the greatest, with a truly prophetic message for the Church of today and tomorrow.”

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Homily for 3d Sunday of Easter

Homily for the
3rd Sunday of Easter

April 14, 1991
Luke 24: 35-48
Troop 40, Alpine, N.J.

This little nugget comes from well before I officially became Troop 40’s chaplain; with one T40 Scout in my freshman English class at Salesian HS, I got invited now and then to accompany the troop and offer Mass in the field for them.

Some of you may have followed the story, a couple weeks ago, of the woman who was exploring the deepest part of Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico with a group of cavers.  When she broke her leg in an accident, it became a national story; people everywhere seemed to be concerned about the progress of the rescue team working its way down several miles from the surface over a period of two days (I believe), and seemed to admire the woman’s courage and strength down below with her partners.  Once the rescuers reached her with a stretcher and additional first aid, they had to haul her out, which took another several days of pulling her dead weight, protecting her from further injury, and keeping up her spirits.  Everyone involved strained very hard to save this woman from the brokenness she had experienced, and in fact her brokenness built something of a new spirit of teamwork and salvation—a spirit they all experienced despite their exhaustion when they had finished and whatever bruises they had gotten in the process.

Yesterday we all did some hiking, and a lot of it was in the rain.  When we finished we were pretty tired; we had strained a lot.  Maybe we got a bruise or two from a fall, or some blisters or some sore muscles.  We experienced a kind of brokenness through our hike.  But after all that, we felt a lot of satisfaction too.  We’d accomplished something, maybe something we weren’t sure we could do; and some of us earned a merit badge through our painful efforts.

The experience of the cave explorers and rescuers, and our experience, is a little like the experience that Jesus went through.  Jesus’ heart was crushed on Holy Thursday by betrayal and by the fear of torture and death.  On Good Friday his spirit was beaten by the injustice of his trial and condemnation, and his body was broken by torture and finally by death on the cross.

In the gospel we heard how Jesus appears to his disciples after he has risen from the dead, and how he reassures them that he isn’t a ghost but the real flesh-and-blood Jesus, the same Jesus who had been so broken by the cross.  This same Jesus is now alive.  He speaks with his friends and even asks them for some fish to eat.  The body and the spirit that had been pained, tortured, and broken has been raised up.  The payoff isn’t national TV coverage, teamwork, or a merit badge, but “the remission of sins for all the nations” (Luke 24:47).

The gospel reading began with a reference to a pair of disciples who “had come to know Jesus in the breaking of bread” (Luke 24:35).  “The breaking of bread” became a New Testament term for the Eucharist.  The body of Jesus is still being broken for us, for the forgiveness of sins, at every Mass.  When the priest breaks the Bread before Communion, he reminds us of how Jesus’ body was broken by death for us; the Mass, you know, is the very same sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, made present to us here and now because we could not be physically present at Calvary.  The Eucharistic bread is one, but it is broken into several pieces to symbolize that all of us are made one in Christ; Christ died for all the nations.  Indeed, we have that symbolized right here by Scouts from Mount Vernon and from Queens celebrating the Eucharist in New Jersey, and we come from a bunch of different national backgrounds.

Being broken is not just for Jesus and for special occasions like dramatic rescues and merit badges.  We who break the bread of Jesus, with Jesus, must be broken every day.  We must be broken by keeping his commandments, by keeping the values of the Scout oath, by doing our duty, by keeping ourselves clean and honorable in body and heart.  It breaks us sometimes to be honest, to be pure, to be loyal, to do our schoolwork, to obey, to help someone, to think of others before ourselves, not to put someone else down.  Every Eucharist in which we break bread with Jesus is a call to live the Eucharist, to break the sinfulness in us.  But the payoff in being broken like that is to be like Jesus, and eventually to share in his glorious resurrection.

Manny Mota: "I am a son of Don Bosco"

Manny Mota: “I am a son of Don Bosco”

Major League Baseball star for 18 seasons (1962-1979) with the Giants, Pirates, Expos, and Dodgers, with a lifetime batting average of .304, held the MLB career record for pinch hits (150) for 22 seasons before it was surpassed in 2001.

by Maria E. Perez

(ANS - Santo Domingo, D.R. – April 11) – The baseball glove, the ball, and that characteristic smell of the playing field define the life of Manuel (Manny) Mota – a historic player and professional coach in Major League Baseball. Among his victories, one of the most beautiful is certainly to have married Margarita Matos, with whom he had eight children and adopted four others: 12 children who have, so far, made him a grandfather of 18 grandchildren. Today he says that Don Bosco has always been part of his life, and he thanks God for giving him more than he thinks he deserved.

Childhood and Salesians

In my childhood I lived in the San Juan Bosco neighborhood of Santo Domingo. It was a very nice childhood, which I’m proud of, and I was able to play a lot of sports. I played soccer with the Salesians in the Don Bosco youth center, because most of the teachers involved with the Salesians were Europeans and played soccer.

Proud of Salesian formation

To play baseball, we had to attend Mass every Sunday, from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.; then, until noon, we were allowed to play baseball, but before Mass we had to confess. I feel proud and grateful for the formation I was able to receive from the Salesians, as well as that of my parents. I participated in many tournaments. I played soccer and basketball, but I was more inclined to baseball. I believe that Salesian formation, together with military discipline, has played a preponderant role in my life throughout my career.

On education

For me education is fundamental: I urge children not to leave school, and those who have the opportunity to go to university, because that degree that they have obtained thanks to sacrifice and perseverance will be something that no one can take away from them. Children are the hope, pride, and future of every country; we parents are called to give them guidance and joy, so that they know that there is always room to improve, and that they try to be humble and to maintain good discipline, because success depends on this.

Another great success or accomplishment of the former athlete and coach is the Manuel Mota Foundation, created in 1967, which provides food, schooling, and sports supplies to children and teens with limited resources, as well as food for vulnerable elderly people.

Long bio, including his Don Bosco connection:

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Rector Major "can see and feel so much hope!" in Aleppo

Rector Major “can see and feel
so much hope!” in Aleppo

(ANS – Aleppo, Syria – April 10) – From Damascus Fr. Angel Fernandez Artime traveled on to Aleppo, passing thru other important Syrian cities marked by the suffering of war, but also by the hope of those who, like the Salesians and the youths of the Salesian houses, have decided to continue to believe in a future of peace and prosperity.

After arriving in Aleppo on the afternoon of Saturday, April 7, Don Bosco’s 10th successor visited the city the next day and recorded a video-message.

Today is Sunday, April 8, 2018. Here in Aleppo we find ourselves in the same place whence our confreres sent us their Christmas greeting. I am very happy to be here with all these young people, the Salesian Family, our sisters of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, our brothers, all as one family and Salesian Youth Movement, here to say a word to our whole Salesian world, to the Salesian Family in the world, to our confreres and sisters and to all the young people who can listen to us.

I am happy to tell you that we have come to pray for peace, to pray for a meeting between peoples, cultures, and religions, and also to ask the Lord that with our human freedom this war and destruction is never repeated.

I must tell you that we are struck by so much destruction, so much pain, so many deaths, for 102,000 people who have been injured by bombs, and more than 3, 4, 5 million Syrians who have left Syria. This is really painful.

But I want to tell you something else that you can see and feel: there is so much hope!

First, because in faith, even more so during this Easter season, one truly feels that life continues, and that life, fraternity, and help are possible, that the Lord supports everyone, all believers of any creed in the one and only God. We see that life returns, that there is a real desire to rebuild fraternity, to living side by side, to continue serving one’s own people, those who follow, those who were born in these years.

Dear Salesian Family, dear young people, let me ask, above all, for understanding, for a look of tenderness for these confreres, sisters, friends, for a prayer with faith to the Lord, so that they do not lack for strength. And I continue to appeal again to fraternity and solidarity, to help those who have lost everything, with a big embrace and a strong feeling of friendship toward our Salesian reality, which is very beautiful and Christian, and also an embrace simply of the citizens of Aleppo and of Syria.

To all of you a big hug, and a greeting from everyone.

In the afternoon, after meeting several Syrian prelates for lunch, the Rector Major celebrated Mass, at which 13 Salesian Cooperators made their promises. A meeting followed with high school and university students and then with some Salesian Cooperators, including some from Damascus and Kafroun, who spoke to the Rector Major about the ongoing war.

“Father Angel has truly moved us in these last few moments! He has truly been a father and brother for everyone. He listened to us, told us that he shall continue to pray for us and that he will speak about the Salesians and young people in Syria to the entire world,” concluded the communications delegate of the Middle Province East, Sally A-Jamra.

Rector Major Brings a Smile to Damascus

Rector Major Brings a Smile to Damascus

(ANS – Damascus – April 9) – While the Syrian civil war continued east of Damascus, Fr. Angel Fernandez Artime, accompanied by his secretary, Fr. Horacio Lopez, continued his pastoral visit to the SDBs’ Middle East Province with a visit to the Syrian capital. As Don Bosco’s successor, he brought to his confreres and the people to whom they minister, a population wounded by more thanb 7 years of war, a measure of comfort, joy, and hope.

The Rector Major arrived in Damascus on Thursday, April 5. In the early afternoon, accompanied by several young people, he journeyed as a pilgrim on the route of the Apostle Paul to the church of St. Ananias. There the story of St. Paul’s conversion (Acts 9:1-19) was recited, after which Fr. Fernandez offered a few words of commentary, emphasizing how important it was for everyone today to change their lives by directing them toward God.

The Rector Major’s day concluded with the celebration of the Eucharist at the church of St. Paul in the Tabbala section in Damascus, and with words of encouragement to the many who approached him.

The next day, the Rector Major first gathered with the Salesians of the local community to listen to their problems and challenges and offer his accompaniment. In the afternoon, he participated in a festive meeting with all the children, teens, and young adults of the youth center – a total of about 1,000 people.

“He was asked to pose for pictures and took selfies with all those who asked him!” said an amazed Sally A-Jamra, the province’s communications delegate.

The afternoon continued with traditional performances by members of the youth center, to which Fr. Fernandez responded by playing the guitar, much to the joy and satisfaction of everyone present. The Rector Major then presided over Mass in the courtyard of the house and set loose a dove, a sign of hope for peace for the city and the country. Finally, quoting Don Bosco, he told the young people present that they had stolen his heart.

During the evening spent with the center’s educational-pastoral community, he answered questions and said that he was happy to have found a second Valdocco in Damascus.

The Young Are Better Than What They Have Around Them

The Young Are Better Than What They Have Around Them
Salesian Commitment During Syrian War

(ANS – Aleppo – April 6) – In his Urbi et Orbi message on Easter Sunday, Pope Francis said: “We Christians believe and know that the resurrection of Christ is the true hope of the world.... Today we ask for the fruits of peace for the whole world, beginning with the beloved and beseiged Syria, whose population is exhausted by a war that sees no end.”

In that beloved and martyred land, among an exhausted people, the Salesians continue to be sowers of comfort and makers of peace.

In recent years, the Salesian youth center of Aleppo has continued to be a point of reference for the youngsters and families who frequent it. “At the beginning of the war, in 2012, we were forced to close it for six months. But when we realized that the conflict would last a long time, we decided to reopen. There was no other way: staying closed in their houses, the children would have gone crazy,” explains the center’s young director, himself from Aleppo, Fr. Pier Jabloyan.

Among the many activities maintained, the after-school program is aimed at about 70 children, organized by involving about a dozen university students.

“There are enormous educational needs,” Fr. Jabloyan continues. “Many schools have been destroyed or transformed into shelters.... Moreover, if one has no water in the house, no electricity, and has difficulty feeding himself, it is hard to tell anybody to study. But Don Bosco teaches us that education means the future. This is why we have resisted, offering our children what we had: our spaces, our snacks, the effort and commitment of our young people.”

The war has also caused numerous injuries in those who have survived the violence. Fr. Jabloyan said: “In everyone, the war has created psychological problems. The threshold of sensitivity has risen a lot: the news of one or two dead is in danger of not having any more effect. Often boys express themselves harshly and sometimes a soccer match can become a pretext for aggression to explode. Here, too, we try to accompany them and help them remember that they are better than what surrounds them, as many times they have shown us.”

The Facebook page “Don Bosco Aleppo” is a powerful witness of the many activities of the youth center and the Salesian commitment to offer a normality made up of moments of prayer, liturgical feasts, music, shows, etc.

“This is our style,” concludes Fr. Jabloyan, “to focus on beauty and on coming together, meeting.”

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Pope Francis Exhorts Everyone to Holiness

Pope Francis Exhorts Everyone
to Holiness in Today’s World

(ANS - Vatican City – April 9) – Pope Francis’s newest apostolic exhortation was presented to the public at a Vatican press conference today. In the introduction of the text, entitled Gaudete et Exsultate, on the call to holiness in today’s world, the Holy Father writes, “My modest goal is to re-propose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time, with all its risks, challenges, and opportunities.”

The Pontiff articulates his exhortation through 177 sections, developed in five chapters. In the first chapter, the fundamental assumption of the exhortation stands out: holiness is not something other or different from everyday life, but ordinary life lived extraordinarily. This is why the Pope cites examples of daily holiness: “in those parents who raise their children with immense love, in those men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile....”

In the second, the Pope presents two dangers for holiness: Gnosticism and Pelagianism. On the first, which attributes excessive value to religious knowledge, the Pope warns against the risk of transforming the Christian experience into a set of mental ruminations; as for the second, he denounces the attitude or belief of those who “ultimately trust only in their own powers,” forgetting that “not everyone can do everything, and that in this life human weaknesses are not healed completely and once for all by grace.... As St. Augustine taught, God commands you to do what you can and to ask for what you cannot.

In the third chapter, the Pontiff analyzes what may be considered the “rule” of the Christian life, the Beatitudes. Examining them one by one, he presents how it is precisely through the fulfillment of deeds that holiness manifests itself.

In the fourth chapter, Pope Francis presents characteristics especially suitable for today’s Christians to take on as they traverse the path of holiness. They range from the most easily predictable ones – constant prayer, perseverance, patience, meekness – to others perhaps less expected – joy and a sense of humor, for example – without ever forgetting the need to act with boldness and passion, on a path that is always done in community.

Finally, in the last chapter the Pope does not deny that the path to holiness is also made of combat and vigilance: against a worldly mentality, against our human weakness and proclivities, but also, clearly, in the constant struggle against the devil.

Homily for 2d Sunday of Easter

Homily for the
2d Sunday of Easter

April 14, 1985
John 20: 19-31
Acts 4: 32-35
1 John 5: 1-6
St. Joseph, Florida, N.Y.

I was away for a family celebration this past weekend.  Herewith a homily from the archives.

“Jesus came and stood among them and said to them ‘Peace be with you.’  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side” (John 20: 19-20).
The Incredulity of Thomas
(Maerten De Vos)
The readings for this last day of the Easter Octave take us beyond the immediate shock, the immediate joy, of the resurrection.  In them we see not only who Jesus is but what Jesus does and what he expects us to do.

1.  Who is Jesus?  Jesus is the one whom the Father has raised up from the grave; the one “who came by water,” i.e., who was pointed out in the ministry of John the Baptist and in the water jars of Cana; the one who came also “in blood,” i.e., who was pointed out in the sacrifice of Calvary (1 John 5:6).  Jesus is the “child of God” (1 John 5:1) whom the Father has anointed as Lord, king, savior of mankind.  Jesus is the one whom Thomas confesses to be his Lord and his God, not only because he sees him alive but also because Thomas recognizes that Jesus has conquered pain and death.  It is a wounded and scarred Jesus who stands before the eleven, who stands triumphant before us.

2.  What does Jesus do?  Jesus is the wounded healer. Only the one who has suffered can bring peace.  “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness,” the Letter to the Hebrews tell us (9:22).  Jesus bestows peace upon all those who will allow him to be present to them.  He bestows the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins (John 20:21-23) and the reconciliation of mankind with our Father.  He enables us to love the Father and one another and, in this love, to obey the Father’s wishes; in this love, to overcome the world of sin, of pain, and of death, as he did (l John 5:2-5).  Jesus makes us one heart and mind with all God’s children (Acts 4:32; John 5:1-2).

3.  What does Jesus expect of us?  He expects, first, that we will believe in him without seeing him in his risen and wounded body, as Thomas did (John 20:29).  Then he expects that we will live our faith by loving our brothers and sisters (1 John 5:2), not just in word but in deed.  How shall we love in deed?  The first Christians give us the example:  “No one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own….  There was not a needy person among them … and distribution was made to each as any had need” (Acts 4:32,34-35).  They showed a practical oneness, a practical faith, a practical love, a practical initiation of their Lord Jesus by their generosity with this world’s goods.  And so their faith became “the victory that overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4).

Such a generosity toward the needy in our own community or around the world not only unites us to Christ and to our brothers and sisters.  It also makes us like Christ, wounded healers.  For giving does hurt a little, but it heals so much!

I heard just 2 days ago of a family in Paterson that agreed not to exchange Christmas gifts, but instead to give the money for famine relief in Ethiopia; they gave over $1,000!  “We are the world,” indeed, when Christ makes us one:  the wounded, self-emptying Christ, the risen Christ, the Christ who gives us his peace and his Holy Spirit, the Christ who challenges us to believe in him and to overcome the powers of sin and selfishness and death with him.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Pastoral Assignments of 2018-2019: Round 1

Pastoral Assignments for 2018-2019
Round 1

A letter from Fr. Tim Zak, provincial, late on Wednesday afternoon, April 3, announced the 1st batch of pastoral assignments for the SDBs of the New Rochelle Province for next year.

Fr. Dennis Donovan
At the top of the list were 3 appointments for 3-year terms on the provincial council.  Two of these were renewals: Fr. Dennis Donovan as province treasurer (a 3d term) and Fr. Abe Feliciano as a councilor (3d term). Making a return to the council after 6 years will be Bro. Tom Dion, replacing Fr. Mike Pace.
Fr. Abe Feliciano

Fr. John Serio continues as vice provincial, Fr. Jim Heuser as a councilor, and Fr. Dave Moreno as province secretary.

Bro. Tom Dion
Next comes a list of delegates (of the provincial) for particular areas of ministry.  Fr. Abe continues as delegate for youth ministry and Fr. Dennis as delegate for elder care.  Jakeline Magalhaes, a laywoman, will succeed Fr. Dennis as delegate for communications, an area where she has already been working for several months.  Fr. Tom Brennan will succeed Adam Rudin as delegate for mission animation.

Two directors were appointed to 2d 3-year terms:  Fr. Pat Angelucci in the Port Chester, N.Y., community, and Fr. Mike Conway in the Washington, D.C., community (so-called, altho it neither lives nor serves directly in D.C. but in Maryland).
Fr. Calixte at DB's house in Becchi
Fr. Franco Pinto

Three confreres were named to 1st terms as director:  Fr. Iguintz Calixte at Montreal, replacing Fr. Rich Authier (who stays on there with at least 3 other responsibilities), Fr. Bill Ferruzzi at New Rochelle, replacing Fr. Donovan (who stays on there with 2 other major responsibilities), and Fr. Franco Pinto at Tampa, replacing Fr. Steve Ryan.
Fr. Bill Ferruzzi

Fr. Tim also announced that the prenovitiate component of the province's formation program will relocate to Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J., in light of the Congregation's mandate that this program be sited at an active apostolic community and not in the same community as the novitiate or postnovitiate.  For the last several years it has been in Orange with the postnovices.

Homily for Thursday, Octave of Easter

Homily for Thursday, Octave of Easter

April 5, 2018
Acts 3: 11-26
Luke 24: 35-48
Nativity, Washington, D.C.

On Monday we began reading the Acts of the Apostles, which we’ll work our way thru during the 7 weeks of the Easter season.  We’ll follow the apostolic preaching from Jerusalem to the rest of the Holy Land to the Greek-speaking lands of the Eastern Mediterranean and finally to Rome.

What the apostles preach—Peter and John in these early chapters of Acts, the deacons Stephen and Philip, then Peter alone, and finally Paul and his co-workers—is that Jesus of Nazareth has been raised from the dead, and he is the Christ—the Messiah—sent by God as the suffering servant to redeem all who will believe in him, Jew and Gentile alike, for God created all people, loves all people, and forgives the sins of all who repent.

We heard most of those themes in today’s 1st reading, Peter’s sermon following the cure of a crippled man.  That healing is itself a sign of God’s wish to heal us all thru the power of Christ’s name—heal us of far worse afflictions than physical injury or disease.

In the gospel reading Luke emphasized the physical reality of Christ’s resurrection.  The apostles were not imagining that Jesus was alive, were not having daydreams or nightmares, were not hallucinating.  The Lucan scene is similar to the one in John’s Gospel when Thomas insists on probing Jesus’ physical wounds.  Here, Jesus shows his wounds and has them touch his flesh and bones.  It really is the one whom the Romans crucified.  And he eats some of the physical food they have at hand.  It really is he, alive, in the flesh, but wondrously transformed too—into the same reality of eternal life that he offers to all believers, as the apostles will go on to preach courageously in the face of all kinds of opposition, harassment, hatred, and persecution—because this Jesus was not in their imaginations but was totally real, and totally self-giving so that we might have a share in his eternal life.

Salesians Schedule 28th General Chapter

SDBs Schedule 28th General Chapter

On March 28 the Rector Major, Fr. Angel Fernandez Artime, announced to the Salesian world the convocation of the Society's 28th General Chapter, to meet from Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, till Saturday, April 4.

The main topic of GC28 will be "What kind of Salesians for today's young people?" It was chosen by the Rector Major and his council in meetings during the preceding two weeks.  Some juridical issues that concern the Salesian mission also will be taken up.

Since the Society's seat of government (the Generalate) is in transit--having relocated permanently from via della Pisana on the far outskirts of Rome and lodging at least temporarily at Sacro Cuore in downtown Rome--GC28 will meet at the Salesian motherhouse in Valdocco (Turin). Valdocco was the site of General Chapters 12 (1922), 14 (1932), 17 (1952), and 18 (1958).

It will be interesting to see how the members of the chapter will be accommodated in today's Valdocco.  Those earlier chapters had at most 119 capitulars.  Recent chapters have included more than 200 confreres, besides invited experts and support staff such as secretaries and translators.  In addition, none of those 4 earlier chapters lasted even 3 weeks--such simpler times!

Fr. Stefano Vanoli, secretary of the general council, has been appointed moderator of GC28 to organize and oversee all the preparations and guide the chapter itself under the direction of the Rector Major.

Photos from ANS

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Aleppo's Salesian Youth Center Stages Musical

Aleppo’s Salesian Youth Center
Stages Musical Despite the War

(ANS – Aleppo, Syria – March 30) – From March 21 to 23, the young people of the Salesian youth center in Aleppo staged a musical entitled His Love Transformed Me, a story based on Don Bosco’s dream of 1844, in which lambs become shepherds. The musical was produced with over 100 university and high school students and was the fruit of a formative journey that took place during the first pastoral semester, led by Fr. Pier Jabloyan, director of the Salesian community in Aleppo. The show was attended by families and young people from Aleppo, the youths of the Salesian youth centers in Damascus and Kafroun, and a group of young people from the Al Fidar school in Lebanon. Various priests, nuns, and bishops were present at the performance, including Greek Melkite Bishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart, Latin Bishop George Abi Khazen, and Maronite Bishop Joseph Tobji.