Wednesday, August 11, 2010

28 New Salesian Volunteers for U.S., World

28 New Salesian Volunteers for U.S., World

The Salesians commissioned 28 young women and men as Salesian Lay Missioners (SLMs) or Salesian Domestic Volunteers (SDVs) on Saturday, August 7, at the close of a week of retreat. Fr. Tom Dunne, our provincial, presided over the commissioning Mass in the Don Bosco Retreat Center-Marian Shrine, located in the town of Haverstraw, N.Y.

Statue of our Lady, designed by Lumen Winter, at the Marian Shrine in Haverstraw.
The 22 SLMs come from all over the country and represent both the San Francisco and the New Rochelle Salesian provinces.

The retreat was the culmination of four intense weeks of orientation under the leadership of their director, Adam Rudin, and other staff including Meg Fraino and Fr. Steve Ryan of the Salesian Youth Ministry Office, Jayne Feeney, an SLM just returned from service in Ethiopia, and Fr. Mark Hyde, director of the Salesian Missions Office in New Rochelle. Your humble blogger was privileged to be part of their first 3 days of orientation, celebrating Mass and preaching for them each day and offering them Reconciliation on the 3d day.
Half of the SLM candidates (and Adam Rudin) waiting for Mass to start at Maryknoll on July 8.
The four weeks included initial Salesian orientation and getting acquainted (those first 3 days), addressing cultural and other issues together with volunteers from several other organizations at Maryknoll’s MISO program, a week’s “practice” with children in the summer camp of the Salesian parishes in Port Chester, N.Y. (Holy Rosary and Corpus Christi), and finally the retreat and final paperwork and other issues to be taken care of before they head in the next few days or weeks for their missions in Bolivia, Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Rwanda, and one other country.

The week’s retreat coincided (deliberately) with the annual retreat of some 20 Salesians. The young people, all in their early 20s, livened up the Salesians’ experience, as Fr. Tom noted in his weekly letter to the province (in our on-line newsletter) and in oral remarks at the retreat. He noted the SLMs’ occasional use of Latin chant at Mass—they handled most of the music—as “the more traditional aspect of Catholic spirituality” typical of many young Catholics, and at the same time their “playfulness” exemplified in their throwing paper airplanes around the dining room at the end of lunch one day.

At Friday evening's end-of-retreat entertainment (a "talent show" to the young folks), Anne Dauer and Marcos Cisneros demo a Latin dance (left); Andrea Garton and Marie Graves show some Irish flair.
Fr. Tom also lauded the SLMs’ “energetic spirit in following Don Bosco’s charism to the farthest corners of the earth [as] life-giving to all of us who have perhaps grown a bit hardened with the passage of many years.”

Fr. Tom enjoyed listening one evening to the “informative and innovative presentations” that the volunteers made “about the peoples and ministries they will be serving.” “To my eyes,” he added, “the very best of what we sometimes call the Millennium Generation was on glorious display.”

Fr. Tom preaching at the volunteers' commissioning Mass/closing Mass of the retreat on August 7.
The volunteers, in turn, deeply appreciated their interaction with the Salesians at the Liturgy of the Hours and of the Eucharist, listening to daily homilies, sharing meals, contributing to a Friday evening entertainment, and going to North Haledon, N.J., on August 5 to witness the first religious profession of Sister Josiane Phanord, FMA.

For most of the SLMs, if not all of them, the retreat week was the highlight of their orientation, closely followed, they said, by the week with the kids in Port Chester, which was for most of them their first real experience working directly with children.

In addition of Jayne Feeney, returned SLM Sister Anna Kupin, SSC, helped orient the new class and shared their enthusiasm for Don Bosco’s mission. Sister Anna served in Bolivia in 2000-01 and there discerned her religious vocation.

Our 28 new volunteers, both domestic and overseas, with their mission crosses after Mass. Fr. Tom Dunne is at left; Meg Fraino is at left end of 1st row standing; Fr. Mark Hyde and Adam Rudin are at right. Jayne Feeney was taking pictures too.

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