Fr. Pascual Chavez Leads
Day of Recollection
for Salesian Family
Fr. Pascual Chavez, SDB, rector major of the Salesians from 2002 to 20014, led a day of retreat on Saturday, November 7, for the Salesian Family at Mary Help of Christians Academy in North Haledon, N.J. More than 150 SDBs, FMAs, Don Bosco Volunteers, and Cooperators from New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts were present, and groups from Florida, Illinois, and Louisiana (as well as infirm FMAs at the provincialate in Haledon) took part through live-streaming parts of the program.
The key element of the day’s program was a conference on the prophetic role of consecrated persons in awakening the world to Christ (above). In a presentation that took about an hour, Fr. Pascual he summarized reflections that filled 13 single-spaced pages (which he gave out to those present). His audience much appreciated both the oral summary and the written text, which will continue to supply fodder for meditation.
The day’s schedule also included Mass, a meeting of the Rector Major emeritus with SDBs and FMAs in formation, a question-and-answer period for everyone, opportunity for the sacrament of Reconciliation, and dinner.
Fr. Pascual’s address to the entire group picked up on Pope Francis’s message to the Union of Superiors General: today’s religious must be witnesses of Christ to the whole world; they must go out to the peripheries of society to reach everyone with the Gospel. He repeated what he has often said, that consecrated life begins with God’s loving those whom he chooses and calls, and the consecrated person responds to that love. He continued by emphasizing the call to holiness through love for God and neighbor, i.e., to have the mind, the heart, and the sentiments of Jesus; when one is holy, he or she will be happy.
In his meeting with the young confreres and sisters (below), Fr. Pascual addressed formation issues and took questions; his key messages to them were that they should live wisely, reflect deeply, and love generously, and that Jesus is worthy of one’s whole life.
The day’s Mass was a votive Mass of Mary Help of Christians with Marian-themed readings. Fr. Pascual began his homily on John 2:1-11 by observing that for Don Bosco “Mary wasn’t a devotion but a living presence.” He urged confreres, sisters, and affiliated Salesians to give themselves to her docilely, heed her advice to listen to her Son, and to direct others also to him. In imitation of Mary at Cana, sharing in the joy of a couple’s wedding and fearing their embarrassment, Salesians need to be with people in all the joys and sorrows of their lives, he said. In those joys and sorrows, and in all of life, our concern must be to discern Jesus’ presence because he’s the one who can address life’s problems.
Fr. Pascual also noted that after pointing the wedding servants to Jesus (2:5) she disappeared from the scene. The message there, he said, is that our proper focus always must be on Jesus.
Finally, he advised Christians to be believers who are credible in their actions and words; that’s how we can lead others to faith in Jesus, as Mary helped lead the disciples of Jesus to begin to believe in him (2:11).
Your faithful blogger had to depart North Haledon after the session with the SDBs and FMAs in formation in order to fulfill his duties as a Boy Scout chaplain.