Win an Oscar
Yesterday I took part in the First North American Congress of the Salesian Cooperators, which met from Friday afternoon till this morning, at Don Bosco Retreat Center in Haverstraw, N.Y.
The keynote speaker was one of our own SDB cardinals, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez, abp. of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. After being introduced, Cardinal Oscar had everyone smiling right away when he, "Jim left out one thing: I am a Salesian! I always say, 'I'm a Salesian by vocation, a bishop by obedience.'"
He went on to speak of the importance of being a disciple of Jesus, having a genuine, personal relationship with Jesus; and of the necessity of reading and reflecting on the Word of God for fostering that relationship.
The sound bite from his talk: "A childish faith cannot support an adult life."
The Cooperators loved his address, which went at least half an hour and was followed by some questions, and then lots of individual and group photos with the cardinal, who was (as always) most pleasant and joyful.
About 130 Cooperators attended the congress, coming from as far away as Vancouver, B.C., and as close as Stony Point and Haverstraw. There were Cooperators and SDBs and FMAs from California, Texas, Illinois, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ontario, and Quebec. (I may have missed 1 or 2 locations.)
When we had Mass in the retreat house chapel, it was as crowded as I've ever seen that space; going to communion was a little awkward even. The cardinal presided and preached, with about 7 of us concelebrating.
During Mass Meg Fraino from Orange was inducted as a Cooperator. She's been working in our youth ministry office in South Orange for a couple of years, bringing lots of energy, enthusiasm, and ideas.Fr. Tom Dunne, SDB provincial, and Jim Dolan, Cooperators' province coordinator, welcome Meg after she's made her promise
In the afternoon a member of the Cooperators' world council, Herman Lopez from Central America, spoke at some length, emphasizing the importance of apostolic activity by the members. As the large group broke up into small groups for discussion, I departed.
I was there mainly to make books on Don Bosco available to the Cooperators--especially Don Bosco's own Memoirs of the Oratory, very highly recommended this year by the Rector Major; and the participants were good customers. I was also taking a lot of photos for news and archival purposes. When I lent my camera to Judy Alvarez during Mass, she got a little carried away after Mass...
Coordinators of the Cooperators' North American provinces pose with Cardinal Oscar and Herman Lopez: Rose D'Addario from Montreal; the cardinal; Liz Gamarra from Rosemead, Calif., north section representative of the InterAmerica Region; Herman; Diane Dela Torre from Bellflower, Calif.; and Jim Dolan from Orange, N.J.