For download: EAO-2017 Team Visit RM Letter ENG.pdf
East Asia – Oceania Region Team Visit 2017
To The Salesian Confreres of the East Asia – Oceania Region
Heartfelt greetings from Rome, where the General Council is gathered for the plenary summer session. All of us who participated in the Team Visit keep in our hearts a lively memory of the communion, celebration, brotherhood and deep sharing experienced by the 11 Provincials and their councils as well by the sector coordinators of the Region.
First of all in my name and in the name of those who accompany me in this ministry of animation, I want to express my deep “thanks" for all that we experienced during those five days in Hua Hin, Thailand, last March 6-10, 2017. I thank you all for the excellent fraternal climate of communion we lived during that week. I thank especially the provincial community of Thailand – Cambodia - Laos (THA) for the wonderful welcome and the friendly and warm hospitality they shared with us.
At the same time, I now offer you some strategic points that I hope will serve as a blueprint for the Provinces and for the whole Region. These are the points shared in Hua Hin, but now enriched by a careful study in the General Council.
1. I want to acknowledge the growth of communion in the Region over the past 15 years. We must thank God for the journey so far and for what is being done now. Despite the great diversity present in the Region, you are conducting a shared ministerial journey with commitment and harmony, with common goals, trying to overcome difficulties, always respecting the autonomy of the Provinces. All these elements are a guarantee of communion.
2. Today there are many signs of openness and mutual cooperation among the Provinces of the Region. This is a very positive sign and we encourage you to continue to grow in this direction. Openness and mutual cooperation are concrete ways of making communion real and effective.
3. The care and growth of Salesian identity in the Region is very important and requires a permanent commitment. Identity means taking care of our Salesian consecrated vocation in all its charismatic dimensions. It also means taking care that our Salesian identity is lived by every confrere through his apostolic consecration. Identity requires that the Provincials together with their councils have a clearer vision with which to animate and govern the Provinces.
4. Identity also means being aware of the historical moment, taking seriously and with determination the reshaping of the Province, giving priority to the consistency of our communities (in quantity and in quality) and to our Salesian mission in the Province. Today the soul of this identity and this reshaping is sharing our mission with the laity, attending to their preparation and sharing real responsibility with them. I remind you, brothers of what was said by GC 24, and of what I reiterated at the conclusion of GC 27: sharing our mission with the laity is not an option you can take or leave, but a question of identity.
5. It is also an opportune time to strengthen and grow as the Salesian Family in the Region. You should not leave this only to some confreres who have an interest, but it must be, more and more clearly, a priority for the whole provincial community. We need a special concern for the accompaniment and formation of the Don Bosco Past Pupils, Salesian Cooperators, and for starting up groups of ADMA.
6. At the same time we recognize the rich reality of the vocation of the Salesian Brother in some Provinces of the Region. Other Provinces are weaker in this regard. We call for you to strongly consider this reality: the Salesian vocation is a single vocation in two forms (Salesian Brother and Salesian Priest), while promoting the vocation of the Salesian Brother.
7. Those Provinces where SDB and lay people share the mission must have the courage not to lose heart, to accept that the Province is a living body, and that the Salesian mission constantly calls and challenges us, especially the plight of the poorest youth. We must have the courage to go out and seek the peripheries that are awaiting us. Because we are persons of faith and because we let ourselves be guided by the Spirit, we need the courage to get out of our comfort zones, where we are already known and safe.
8. The Rector Major and his council ask you to work in a constant and careful manner to ensure fairness in our institutions and in each one of us, thus assuring sustainability, economic
transparency and the proper and clear use of our patrimony. At the same time we need to promote wherever possible a movement towards the self-sustainability of our mission and
programs of formation, also with the help of provincial PDO (Planning and Development Offices).
9. Formation is a high priority in this six year period. We are speaking of a formation that takes care of the life and vocation of each Salesian, so that the heart of the Good Shepherd is formed within him, like Don Bosco. We need a formation that prepares for the Salesian mission, and becomes concrete in our Youth Ministry, a ministry of processes for young people that will lead them to Jesus. We need a formation that inspires a missionary enthusiasm in our young confreres, even to the point of offering themselves for the missio ad gentes. Formation has to be a life-long process of ongoing formation with the necessary initiatives at local and provincial level.
10. In a very conscious way, all Provinces are called to make an option to ensure the qualification of the confreres. It is important to guarantee the formation of future formators. In the same way the qualification of a good number of confreres in youth ministry, formation, spiritual accompaniment and Salesian studies must feature in your vision and planning. For this I invite you to make the best use of our own Salesian Pontifical University in Rome (UPS).
11. Our educative and pastoral heritage invites us to a deeper knowledge, so that in our call to be educators and evangelisers of the young we will be competent to face up to the new challenges, new pastoral situations, situations that cannot be responded to by the formula “This is the way we’ve always done it.” Enculturating Don Bosco’s Preventive System in a multi-cultural and multi-religious environment is a task that demands consecrated persons who are solidly rooted in the charism. For this reason, systematically disseminating the Frame of Reference and reflecting on how we can let it inspire our pastoral processes is a very challenging process. The effort by the provinces to create or update the Overall Provincial Plan (OPP) and the Salesian Educative Plan (SEPP) at the provincial and local level is a good sign towards a stronger planning mentality that will help us move from a model of Salesian Youth Ministry based only on events, to one which is more marked by processes and journeys.
12. We invite the Region and every Province to continue to promote internationality and interculturality that are signs of where the world is moving today, signs of an open Church, and of the rich reality of the Congregation that is more and more called to take on this shape. It’s very providential that at this moment in history each Province is able to receive Salesian missionaries and lay missionary volunteers from other nations and cultures.
13. I greatly appreciate, dear confreres, the effort the Region is making to provide many translations in print and video. These are ways of communication that bring the reality of the Congregation and the Rector Major closer to the confreres, allowing us to grow in a sense of belonging and participation. Likewise continue to foster AustraLasia - Bosco Link, which unites and makes the Congregation visible in the Region. Continue your efforts to make available to the Provinces and confreres the documents of the Church and Congregation, in the local languages, as an aid to a stronger charismatic identity. To strengthen these and other processes of communication of the Region and of the Provinces, it is very important to have a full time Social Communication Delegate.
14. Finally, I would like to mention the six delegations within the Region. No other Region in the Congregation has so many Delegations! We invite you to continue accompanying the processes in these Delegations, continuously urging them to move in the right direction, always open to where Providence is guiding us in the coming years, promoting vocations for the Salesian Family.
In conclusion, confreres, I thank God once again for the joy we experienced in our journey and for the communion with which we have been gifted. I leave you this conviction: no Province should feel discouraged for developing more slowly than others. What is important is that we are all on the same path, headed in the right direction.
May Mary Help of Christians continue to bless each one of us, our Provinces and the entire East Asia – Oceania Region.
June 24, 2017
Fr Ángel Fernández Artime