By Fr. Natalino de Jesus, SDB
Timorese missionary in Argentina, La Pampa – Victorica, since 2008.
La Pampa, Argentina, October17, 2015 - "I came here in order to listen, to observe and to learn"
I would like to share with the confreres of Timor Leste my experience in my present mission. It’s my first assigment after ordination during past two years to share the mission with the FMA sisters. I believe to ‘work together like Don Bosco with the young’ is a richness and opportunity to growth. It’s a wonderful enrichment where the charismatic gifts are put into common. It’s an opportunity to grow, since working with others we are meeting our own virtues and weaknesses and it’s a good occasion for personal conversion, if we really take advantage of this occasion. Working together with others help us to know ourselves better and discover some unknown spots in our life.
Don Bosco is calling his Salesian Family today to ‘think together’, ‘plan together’, ‘work together’ and ‘pray together’ for the young and with the young people. For this reason I would like to share with you a special experience from my place of Victorica, La Pampa, Argentina: ‘Unification of the Salesian SDB – FMA schools’ with a joint Educative and Pastoral Project.
First of all I would share the main condition. This experience started thanks to the life commuion and fraternity between the two SDB and FMA communities as well the wise accompaniment by both provincial councils SDB and FMA. From the beginning it was clear that we would like reach this goal: to make the best of our Salesian educative Project in Victorica. However this goal brought us during past 6 years much beyond to consider our joint work in the school. We were able to rethink in a participatory way the whole Salesian mission in this Western part of Pampa region, where we work for three different ethnic groups.
Most challenging was the start of the whole process, when we tried to put together our new ways of running school together. First we started to build the communion between the religious SDB and FMA to build up in a systematic way our new joint Educative-Pastoral Project. Today we have a leadership team of 4 lay mission partners working together for the school administration and animation together with 3 SDB and 3 FMA sisters. Continuous meetings were enriched with the contributions of two provincial council members.
I’m convinced that this Project was possible thanks to two lay mission partners who are totally committed to this Project. These two ladies are two principals of both primary schools – of Mary Help and of St. John Bosco. Apart of the two religious communities are also involved other equipes of administration composed of committed lay mission partners.
Sometimes the circumstances, the blowing of the Holy Spirit is pushing us to take new unexpected options in order to overcome certain difficulties. This is a way of mobilizing and learning new path on that we discover the charismatic richness.
In fact the schools caters for 580 students (from kindergarten up to secondary school). Many of them have vulnerable socio-economic or family background typical for the local population. On the other side the Mission of the Western Pampa region accompanies also other reality of the indigenous people.
Rural and popular enviroment is a focus of our mission here in the West Pampa region of Argentina. During the weekends we travel together – SDB and FMAs around our vast semi-desert region in the villages scattered around Pampa in order to share our moments of celebrations, catechetical encounters.
The primary focus of our missionary presence are the rural communities. Every weekend we travel together in one team composed of SDB and FMAs around different localities in our province to share the moments of celebration, catechesis, visiting to new places, family visits and sistematic youth encounters at Saturday night.
Concluding, I would like to share my attitude when i arrived to Argentina – i came here in order to listen, to observe and to learn. I didn’t come here to teach some doctrine to the people but simply to share my life and faith in fraternity with the young and the people. I start to share with simple rural people, visiting their houses and sharing the Word of God in the Small Christian Communities (BEC). This was the most beautiful experience which i’m living in the missions in this moment.
The Salesian Family consists of Christian men and women, consecrated men and women who with the individuality of their own charism and spirit, place themselves at the service of the mission of the Church, especially in the vast world of youth, in working class areas, for the poor and for peoples not yet evangelised.
(Salesian Family Identity Charter, art.6 – 2012)