IN JOURNEY TOWARDS VDB GENERAL ASSEMBLY 8
Next year 2018, we will begin the various phases of the journey that will bring us to the 8th General Assembly that will be held in 2019.
Rome, April 9, 2017
To all Volunteers of Don Bosco
OBJECTIVE: INFORMATION FOR THE GA 8
I cordially greet you in this jubilee year in which our Secular Institute celebrates its centenary. With a heart full of gratitude, we look forward to our future in order to live fully the gift we have received.
The Central Council meeting of March 2017 calls for the theme for our GA 8 that will be:
“The Mission of the VDB Today.”
We have taken the data offered by the different Regions through the Regional Presidents who met in July 2016 at the Conference of the “mid-six years.” The slogan that we have chosen to accompany us in the work will be:
“The world is knocking at our hearts” – “Give me a drink” (Jn 4:7)
to indicate the urgency of responding to the challenges that the world in which we belong and in which we want to live as witnesses of what Christ offers us.
After the preceding GA, during which we reflected on the different aspects of our vocation, I think it is very important to ask you to reflect together on the mission that God asks us, as VDB, in our times:
- How should we be present in the world? What shall we do and how should we do it?
- Moreover, how must we change ourselves in order to meet the challenges we are now called out to do?
Answering these questions will be our task in the next GA.
There emerges in the Church a stronger urgency that each member can give concrete answers to the challenges of today’s world. But today, the world is changing so rapidly that each generation must constantly adapt to new situations. Many times, young people prepare for their entire childhood and youth to the realities that they will face in maturity, and when they reach adulthood, it is already all changed and they must adapt to it without any preparation.
We Christians often, in society, feel as missionaries “ad gentes,” driven by the urgency to bring the Gospel values to all secular structures. Our specific vocation calls us to look for ways on how to “incarnate” in all the realities that surround us, illuminated by the words of St. Paul: “Do not be conformed to this world.”
There are many challenges that call out to us today. One of these is the new IT culture: a real “continent” where you meet millions of people with their thoughts, their ideas, their difficulties, their personal joys... It is “in these spaces that we build the general ideas, which then affect the lives of individuals and of social groups, which can condition the structures of the same society, families, nation and international politics.
The man of today lives in this new virtual world of culture, and we, VDB cannot stay out or ignore this reality: we must study it, put ourselves in it and make our contribution for building up the Kingdom of God.
There are also more serious challenges: wars, terrorism, social ignorance, selfishness, poverty, material and social insecurity, lack of values, religious wars, migration, and the rejection of diversity. This is the atmosphere in which man lives and where many times, he finds a stable reference point, his Center. We too, are daughters of this era, but as daughters of God, we were chosen by Him to be docile instruments in his hands to participate in the evangelizing mission of the whole Church.
Our Salesian consecrated secularity can bring to the world its own answer. Together with other secular institutes, we seek to live, in full union with God, totally inserted in the world and be pushed in order to give adequate responses to today’s reality.
The “city of man” is our natural environment. If we want to live consecrated secularity we must first know God, his way of being and acting, in order to do His Will. Our lifestyle contemplates the way God acts in the world: He is present in the world, he is always seeking to save man, and he enters the texture of the fabric of everyday life. Our mission today is to live with responsibility and unity the elements of our identity, consecration, secularity and Salesianity. The best way to express this is the slogan of our centenary: “100 years for God and for the world.”
Motivation Scripture passage:
“The world is knocking at our hearts”
Give me a drink” (Jn 4:7)
“Your vocation makes you interested in every man and their most profound needs, which often remain unexpressed or masked” (Pope Francis – Address to the II.SS. secular Institutes, May 10, 2014).
We, with full trust in God and with all the people of good will, want to participate in this construction of the new culture of the civilization of love. God saved the world in sending his only Son and invites us today to bring the message of salvation.
Our availability must be careful and responsible in order to give concrete answers in the light of the Gospel, by focusing on the youth center, the little ones, the poor, the abandoned, and the sick.
The preventive system makes us feel these realities “they are knocking at our hearts” and they make us react with openness and availability in our daily lives, with responsibilities in our professional way, fully present in the reality of our families, participation in social and political activities.
“Give me drink” – It is Jesus who challenges us and knocks in our hearts with his plea: “Give me drink.” In the Gospel passage (Jn4:1-42), we see how Jesus, the Son of almighty God, has assumed the role of the needy. The woman of the story did not know how to react to his request: What to do? Give him a little of water and is it enough...? Instead, he has prepared to be ready “to a deeper dialogue” and when she understood with her mind and heart, she went joyfully to announce and to serve her fellow citizens, bringing them the living Water that quenches the heart of man.
Also, each one of us is called to discover Jesus as her Messiah and then to announce him to others, not just with words, but above all, with gestures of goodness, acceptance, welcome, help, accompaniment...
Purpose of GA 8: To discern how to live our VDB mission in today’s world.
- To deepen the importance of the VDB specific mission has in our life.
- To evaluate our responsibility to the mission, as a response to the Spirit who sends us.
- To identify the most urgent needs of people today, especially of our recipients and to reflect on the profound causes of these needs, to be able to intervene.
- To identify our most effective responses in order to make fruitful our being light and leaven in the world.
- The GA will be held in Rome in month of July, 2019.
- The convocation of the GA 8 is scheduled for January 1, 2018.
- The Regional Assemblies must be held on or before November 30, 2018
- Summaries of the Regions must be sent by e-mail to the Central Secretariat at Segretaria@istitutovdb.it on or before December 30, 2018
- We ask you to please send the summaries in Italian
- Each Region, consistent with its programming, organizes in the coming months the work of reflection.
Methodology in preparation of General Assembly 8 (2019)
- On a personal level:
References: In addition to the Constitutions, Commentary on the Constitutions:
For a Daily Love, Rome 1994, Quaderno Carpanera, AG 4 ( (General Assembly 4 document), we can deepen our reflection with the old texts but are still very current: Documents and texts VI, Rome 1980; Tresalti, E: The mission of the lay Secular Institutes, Milan 1982; Paul VI: The SI a living presence in the Church and in the World, Milan 1986; The reports of the Popes on Secular Institutes, Following of Christ, Rome 2011; Speeches of Pope Francis for SI (internet).
- Personal reflection using the texts that speak of the mission to which we are called as secular Salesian consecrated and try to give answers to the guide questions.
1. As VDB, what are the most urgent challenges in my reality knocking at the door of my heart?
2. How do I respond to these current challenges?
3. What do I have to be careful of in order to improve my response?
At the Group level
- Sharing of reflections born from personal study and responses to the guide questions
- Group Synthesis or summary
At the Regional Level
- The Region collates the summaries of the Groups
- It prepares a summary of the Region and send it to the Center
At the Central Level
- The Center creates the Preparatory Group for the Document of GA 8
- The preparatory group:
-studies the significant documents for the theme of GA 8
- collates the summaries that arrive from the Regions
- prepares the Basic Document for the work of the Assembly
Dearest, I hope the “deep dialogue” with Christ and the work of preparation for the next GA 8 bear fruit for our Institute and for the growth of the Kingdom in the “city of man.”
Thank you for your cooperation and I embrace you affectionately.