Fr. Steve Shafran was formally installed as provincial superior of the Salesians’ New Rochelle Province, covering the Eastern United States and all of Canada, on Sunday, July 12, in a long, solemn Mass at the Marian Shrine in Haverstraw, N.Y.
|Fr. Steve signs the profession of faith, witnessed by Fr. Tim.|
Fr. Steve actually started his six-year term on July 1.
Fr. Tim Ploch, in his capacity as Interamerica regional councilor, presided over the installation ritual, representing Fr. Angel Fernandez Artime, rector major. Fr. Steve presided over the Eucharistic celebration and did the preaching. But Fr. Tim and outgoing provincial Fr. Tom Dunne also had their moments to speak.
Almost 50 Salesians, numerous Cooperators, a team of musicians from Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J., a large representation from Don Bosco Cristo Rey in Takoma Park, Md., Fr. Steve’s family, and other friends of the new provincial and of the Salesians took part. Sr. Karen Dunn, provincial of the FMAs, and Sr. Joanne Holloman, the FMA mistress of novices, were among the attendees, having left the FMAs’ celebration of their jubilarians a little early. (Due to Fr. Tim’s schedule and the date long set by the sisters, that conflict couldn’t be avoided.)
As Mass began, outgoing provincial Fr. Tom Dunne welcomed everyone, joking that he wasn’t staging a coup but was happy to be flying the coop. He noted our gratitude to God for the vocation of serving the young that has been given to the Salesian Family.
|A copy of the official letter of appointment.|
|Making the profession of faith |
and taking the oath of fidelity to the teachings of the Catholic Church
The rite of installation followed the homily. It began with a call for the provincial-elect to step forward, similar to the call issued at religious profession or ordination. Then Fr. Tim read the English translation of Fr. Angel’s letter of appointment and offered a prayer for Fr. Steve. Fr. Steve made his profession of faith and oath of fidelity to all the teachings of the Catholic Church, and then signed a Latin document attesting to that. All the members of the Salesian Family were invited to exchange a sign of peace and friendship with Fr. Steve.
|Fr. Steve and concelebrants during the Eucharistic Prayer.|
Chosen by God
Fr. Steve preached on the Sunday readings (Amos 7:12-15; Ps 85:9-14; Eph 1:3-14; Mark 6:7-13), finding in them a common theme of “being chosen.” Being chosen to be part of a group, he said, brings with it a sense of recognition, and we get energized.
Jesus’ choosing of his apostles enabled them to follow in his footsteps, doing the evangelizing mission that he was doing. Even if they didn’t realize fully what their call was all about until after the resurrection, they still felt they’d been chosen for something really compelling.
Amos didn’t choose to be a prophet; he’d rather have remained a shepherd and tree farmer. But God chose him, and that changed his life.
Paul tells us that God chose us to be holy; God has destined us and has sealed us with the Holy Spirit.
Being chosen by God has a higher purpose than affirmation. Those whom he has chosen must acknowledge the choice and then act on it. We can imagine what the scenario might have been had Amos, the apostles, or Paul told God, “Thanks, but no thanks.” (Fr. Steve went into details for each scenario.)
Don Bosco, answering the call he received from God, shows us what a difference one person can make in the world. Each of us has been called in Baptism to respond to Jesus’ invitation. Now we are the ones chosen to act and thus to change the world. Every day we have to respond with our “yes.” We know that God’s call will be scary, surprising, and adventurous. We’ll be in for a wild ride.
Fr. Angel has given Fr. Steve an invitation to service, the preacher said. He identified some of the many people in his life who prepared him to make a positive response, especially his mother Olga, who showed him what can be accomplished by sacrifice and suffering and having a happy outlook.
Being chosen by God will bring us happiness along with suffering during a scary, surprising, and adventurous ride. We in the Salesian Family will find the face of God in the young and the poor.
|Fr. Steve's sister Dorothy, brother Terry, and their spouses|
present the bread and wine to be consecrated.
Thanks and appreciation
At the end of Mass, Fr. Tim conveyed the greetings of Fr. Angel to everyone, especially to Fr. Steve and Fr. Tom. Each of them was presented with a special gift from the Rector Major, a limited edition print commemorating Don Bosco’s 200th birthday. In addition, Fr. Angel wrote a letter of thanks, appreciation, and blessing to Fr. Tom for his six years of service to the province. (Fr. Angel, of course, got to know Fr. Tom during the 27th General Chapter, which both attended as provincials until Fr. Angel’s election as Don Bosco’s 10th successor.)
|Fr. Tim holds up one of the prints |
given by the rector major to Fr. Steve and to Fr. Tom.
Fr. Steve spoke again, thanking God for giving him the faith to be able to make this commitment of service. He expressed his confidence in the guidance and assistance of Mary Help of Christians; it was because of her that he chose to be inaugurated at her shrine, which he called “holy ground, a very special place of prayer.” He noted the inspiration he draws from Don Bosco’s example and his hopeful excitement at the growth he sees in the Salesian Family within the province. He said that he feels empowered by the love and the prayers of his confreres and his family. He voiced his gratitude to the men who founded the province. He appreciated the presence of so many friends from several works of the province (Ramsey, Takoma Park, East Boston). He thanked the many people who helped organize the Mass (Marilyn Palka, Toni and Gary Cecere, Fr. Jim McKenna, and Fr. Rich Alejunas should be singled out) and gave particular thanks to Fr. Tim for his presence—who made a rapid trip to and from Rome for the occasion—and Fr. Tom, and he presented Fr. Tom with a gift, an image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, noting how in that image Jesus has run to his Mother for help and now that is an apt image for us. He asked everyone for prayers.
|Fr. Tim, Fr. Steve, and Fr. Tom.|
Fr. Tom, in turn, had a gift for Fr. Steve that offered a moment of levity as Fr. Steve removed the wrapping paper to reveal a toner cartridge box. Inside the box, however, wasn’t toner but the same gift that Fr. Tom had received from his two predecessors, Frs. Jim Heuser and Rich Authier, when he took office on the day the New Rochelle and Montreal provinces were merged: a statuette of Jesus washing the feet of one of his apostles, an image of the brotherly love and service to which the provincial is called.
|Fr. Steve examines the carving of Jesus washing an apostle's feet.|
Following Mass there was a flurry of picture-taking in front of the altar, and then everyone moved to the pavilion for a fine buffet supper prepared by Market Basket.