on Cooperators Congress
Fr. Dennis Donovan, SDB, the Eastern USA delegate to the Salesian Cooperators, writes more about the North American Congress than what I provided a few days ago (below).
“A childish faith cannot support an adult life!” With this example, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez, SDB, explained that for too many people in North America catechesis ended at the elementary school level. Hence the need for Salesian Cooperators who are filled with the Spirit as apostles with a missionary spirit, making themselves the “Juan Diegos” of the New World.
Over 130 Salesian Cooperators, along with their SDB and FMA delegates, met at Don Bosco Retreat Center for a weekend congress. The theme was “Celebrate Our Salesian Family: Mission to Youth.” They came from Canada, both USA provinces and Mexico. They gathered in prayer and fellowship to discern the direction in which the Holy Spirit is calling this branch of the Salesian Family.
Cardinal Rodriguez, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and president of Caritas Internationalis, was the keynote speaker.
“In a way, this is actually an international congress,” said Herman Lopez, world councilor for the Inter-America region, one of the presenters. Although Congress members live in Canada, Mexico and the United States, many of the participants were born in and became Salesian Cooperators in other countries, including China, Germany, Haiti, Korea, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to name a few. Congress materials were presented in English, French and Spanish.
Herman emphasized that Cooperators are not mere collaborators – baking cookies and preparing activities in our various centers. Instead, Salesian Cooperators are equally responsible for the mission of service, alongside the Salesians, Salesian Sisters and other branches of the Salesian Family.
Cardinal Rodriguez, referring to a talk he gave at the World Youth Day gathering in Spain this summer, said Catholics need a spiritual GPS, getting our orientation from the Word of God, the Eucharist and Mary. He said, “The goal of this congress is to arrive at a permanent state of mission, with each Cooperator becoming a missionary disciple of Jesus Christ.” Of young people, he said they need an encounter: “Not with a book or an institution, but with the person of Jesus Christ.” The Cooperator can be the one who makes that encounter happen.
The goal of the congress is to establish a missionary effort that unites all the provinces in North America. This will become the reference by which decisions about evangelization will be made at the local and province level. It is the first step to begin the work of pastoral planning for the future.
Cardinal Rodriguez presided and preached during a Mass for World Mission Sunday at the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians in Stony Point. During the afternoon, the group took a tour of New York City with stops at the World Trade Center Memorial and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.