Sunday, October 6, 2013

Change in Salesian Montreal

Change in Salesian Montreal

Over the Sept. 27-29 weekend, Fr. Tom Dunne, our provincial, announced to the province and to the people of Maria Ausiliatrice Parish in the Riviere-des-Prairies section of Montreal that the Salesians are withdrawing from pastoral care of the parish.

The SDBs have served in Montreal since 1960, when we assumed responsibility for St. Claire's Parish.  Eventually there were additional pastoral charges.  When Maria Ausiliatrice ("Mary Help of Christians") was first established in the 1970s as a mission for Italian immigrants, we looked after them; when it became a national parish in 1982, we became the pastors and assistants.  According to Fr. Tom, the parish is now one of the largest in the archdiocese of Montreal.
Interior, Maria Ausiliatrice Church, Montreal (Fr. Dennis Donovan)
Within the parish boundaries we also founded the Don Bosco Youth Leadership Centre and set up (in the same building) Canada's mission office (the independent parallel of the office that we have in New Rochelle).  Both the youth center and the mission office have flourished.

But at this point our province can no longer provide the tri-lingual clergy that the parish needs--priests who speak Italian, French, and English.  For years we've been bringing Italian-speaking priests from elsewhere in the SDB world to serve there.

Therefore, with the consent of the provincial council and of the Rector Major, Fr. Tom asked the archbishop of Montreal to take pastoral responsibility for the parish as of Oct. 28.
Don Bosco Youth Centre, Montreal (Fr. Dennis Donovan)
We will remain at the youth center and mission office, so we're not leaving Montreal at all.  We've also offered to assist Maria Ausiliatrice with catechism.  Fr. Tom describes these changes as "a re-focusing on the charism that brought the Salesians to this neighborhood [RDP] from the very beginning.  He said that our "presence will be more sharply focused on the mission to the young and the poor that was at the heart of Don Bosco's gift to the Catholic Church and the world."

In his letter to the parishioners, read at all the Masses last weekend, Fr. Tom thanked them "for the many ways that you have supported and encouraged us over the past almost thirty years," as well as assuring them that the SDBs are still at hand in the neighborhood.

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