EAO Good Night Talk (74)
Ho Chi Minh, April 30, 2020
Dear confreres, friends and members of the Salesian Family:
Today is 30 April 2020. I am still in Vietnam as the lockdown is still going on. Yet, the General Council had its first meeting session on 27 April. A number of Councillors took part online. It seems to me that we had a good session and the online system set up by our technician in Rome worked well for the whole session. We will continue this online meeting for the whole week. I could felt that our Rector Major wanted to be near to all of you and he asked us to pray for each of you, devoting this month of May to our Lady Mary Help of Christians.
1- By this monthly talk, I would like first of all to express my gratitude to those encouraging replies to the first monthly message. I feel closer and closer to each of you in this Region as our correspondence becomes more regular.
At this moment, we are going through difficult times, maybe a unique one as the pandemic does not leave any country untouched by its ever-worsening impact. All countries of our Region are impacted. From the first reaction of fear and anxiety at the personal and national level, we are now entering the phase of suffering from the consequences as we witness so many people losing their meagre income to support their own families, teachers without classes, students without schooling, and farmers without production.
For our part, schools, parishes, youth centres are being closed as States recommend social distancing, even within our compound. Yet, as sons and daughters of Don Bosco, we are not ceasing and cannot cease our ministries/services. Could we imagine a son/daughter of Don Bosco being without mission? Could we imagine a son/daughter of Don Bosco being closed within his/her own house or room, being distanced from the young?
The websites of the SDB congregation and provinces are posting many programs and specific acts of solidarity with the victims of the Covid-19 pandemic. The beautiful thing is that these movements motivate not only Christians but also our friends of different religious traditions. As educators and pastors, we are not pleased with receiving and distributing those food and medical aids. Many of us have become the spear-headers, educating people, so that each person could share something with those around him/her who are in greater need. There is a wise statement for the survival of the whole community: “Those who have should help those who have very little, and even those who have very little should give a hand to those who have nothing.”
2- Pope Francis tells us that nothing could stop us doing good things: Jesus formed the heart of the apostles to serve people. He taught them this pastoral attitude, that is, to be near to the people of God. It’s not the structure but the pastoral heart of a shepherd [24 April, 2020]. [italic mine!]
May this month of Mary, the month that begins with the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, help us to work harder for the victims of the Pandemic.
Joseph Nguyen Thinh Phuoc SDB