Bro. Juan Pablo Rubio, SDB,
Makes First Religious Profession
Bro. Juan Pablo Rubio pronounced his first religious vows of obedience, poverty, and chastity as a Salesian of Don Bosco on Monday evening, August 16.
Fr. Thomas Dunne, superior of the Salesians’ Eastern U.S. Province, based in New Rochelle, N.Y., received Bro. Juan Pablo’s profession within a Mass celebrated at the church of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Port Chester, N.Y. The SDB novitiate is attached to the parish, which is served by the SDBs.
Fr. Provincial inquires of the novice what he asks of God and his holy Church by seeking admission to the Salesian Society. The novice answers, “God’s merciful love and the grace to dedicate myself wholly to him and his kingdom….”
Besides Bro. Juan Pablo’s parents, sister, and other relatives, many parishioners and Salesian priests, brothers, sisters, and novices took part in the festive Eucharistic celebration.
The Scripture readings that Bro. Juan Pablo chose were Ezek 34:11-16 (The Lord will search for his sheep), Psalm 23 (The Lord is my shepherd), and Matthew 16:24-27 (He who loses his life for my sake, will find it). In his homily Fr. Tom touched on those themes and what they mean for those who follow Christ as Salesians.
Novice Juan Pablo Rubio makes “the vow to live obedient, poor, and chaste according to the way of the Gospel set out in the Salesian Constitutions” for one year, expecting to renew his vows periodically until he is ready to make them in perpetuity. With his vows he becomes Bro. Juan Pablo.
Fr. Tom noted that religious profession is “not a generous gift that we make to God but something that we need from God.” We are sheep who need a shepherd, and this shepherd carried a cross. We share in his cross by denying to ourselves whatever isn’t of Christ; we share in his shepherding mission by looking for his strayed sheep.
As part of the rite of profession, the newly professed brother is presented with a copy of the SDB Constitutions. Fr. Tom assured Bro. Juan Pablo that these Constitutions are a sure guide to holiness. He reminded him of Don Bosco’s words to the first SDB missionaries who left his side in Italy: that through the Constitutions he would accompany them to Argentina.
Fr. Tom presents to Bro. Juan Pablo a copy of the SDB Constitutions as “a source of light,” “a cause of joy even in carrying the cross,” and “a gift of peace” for himself and others as he journeys toward Christ.
The Constitutions and Salesian spirituality* speak of a “single movement of love” found in the three aspects of Salesian life: mission, community, and vows. Through their mission Salesians imitate Jesus by humbly serving the neediest men and women. Their community helps them stay on the right way toward the Father with Jesus. By their vows they imitate Jesus in his virginal chastity, self-offering, and poverty.
Finally, said Fr. Tom, Salesians have Mary, the mother of Jesus, as a companion on the journey by which they carry their cross. She accompanied Jesus to Calvary and stood by him; she does the same for Salesians.
Before the Mass concludes, Bro. Juan Pablo expresses his thanks to God, the Virgin Mary, his family, and the Salesians for leading him thus far on his vocational path. The cross, which figured so much in the day’s liturgical texts and homily, stands over him as he speaks.
Bro. Juan Pablo, 34 years of age, was born in Mexico and came to the U.S. as a child with his parents, Eduardo Rubio and Gracia Olivares de Rubio. Eventually they settled in Sturgis, Mich., where Juan Pablo went to work in an RV plant after high school.
When he was growing up as a member of Holy Angels Parish in Sturgis, the assistant pastor responsible for Hispanic ministry was Fr. Bob Flickinger (now pastor of St. Basil Church in South Haven). Juan Pablo didn’t know that Fr. Flickinger is a former SDB. But he saw in him the model of the kind of priest that he would like to become.
The newly professed SDB with his parents and extended family.
Some years later, Juan Pablo went with his parish youth group to a youth rally at the University of Notre Dame. There he met Sister Colleen Clair, vocation director of the Salesian Sisters. She put him in touch with the SDBs’ vocation director, Fr. Steve Ryan, and by January 2007 Juan Pablo had entered the formation program at Orange, N.J.
While in the candidacy and prenovitiate program at Orange, Juan Pablo practiced Salesian youth ministry by preparing children ages 7-10 for the sacraments at Our Lady of the Valley Church, where the SDBs are in residence, and he taught CCD at St. Theresa Church in Kenilworth (where the FMAs run the parish school) and St. Joseph and St. Michael Parish in Union City (where there’s a strong presence of the Salesian Coopertors).
He also took some academic courses at Seton Hall University, where he’ll resume his studies this fall toward completing his bachelor’s degree in philosophy.
Fr. Thomas Dunne, provincial (left), and Fr. William Keane, master of novices, flank Bro. Juan Pablo.
Bro. Juan Pablo describes his year of novitiate in Port Chester as “great, spiritual, joyful.” He continued to minister to young people by helping at recess at Corpus Christi-Holy Rosary School, Holy Rosary’s youth center, and the summer camp jointly sponsored by Holy Rosary and Corpus Christi parishes, and by teaching CCD. He also helped in the soup kitchen at Holy Rosary’s Don Bosco Community Center. He said that the summer camp was “very Salesian” because it offered financial assistance to most of the children who attended from Holy Rosary Parish, which has a large immigrant population.
He also says that during his novitiate he had confirmed for him Don Bosco’s words, “Put your trust in Mary Help of Christians, and you’ll see what miracles are.”
Asked about SDBs who’ve made the biggest impression on him, Bro. Juan Pablo singled out Fr. Rich Alejunas, SDB, assistant pastor at Holy Rosary and executive director of the Community Center. He pointed to Fr. Richard’s energy, hard work, and zeal.
As a professed SDB, Bro. Juan Pablo looks forward to working closely with young people, continuing to live what he learned in the novitiate, and growing in holiness (“That will take forever!” he adds).
The day before Bro. Juan Pablo’s profession, Fr. Tom received five new novices into the novitiate, one for the SDBs’ Western U.S. Province and four for the Eastern Province. They come from California, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island. (See post below.)
The Salesians of Don Bosco are the second-largest congregation of religious men in the Catholic Church. They serve the young, the poor, and mission populations through academic and trade schools, universities, youth centers, hospices, orphanages, parishes, mission stations, medical clinics, the media, and other ministries in 136 countries around the world.