Suva Community Annual Retreat 2022
By Afia Enosa
Suva, Fiji, 29 August 2022 -- When the disciples returned from their mission, Jesus said to them, “Come away yourselves to a lonely place and rest a while” (Mk 6:31). With these words from the Gospel of Mark, Father Joseph Lee SDB began our annual Retreat and invited us to be by ourselves with Jesus and to consider our calling and mission as Salesians of Don Bosco, “To the young you are sent.”
In the first session of the Retreat, Fr. Joe directed us to reflect on the spirituality and pastoral approach of St. Francis de Sale which became the foundation of Don Bosco’s own spirituality and ministry of evangelisation and education for the young. A one-week retreat with the theme “To the Young, we are sent” conducted by Father Joseph Lee SDB, was a source of strength and mind refreshing, physically and spiritually to the community; a chance to take into reconsideration the mission of Saint John Bosco and Saint Francis de Sales as missionaries and reassemble unique ideas on how to be a role model among the young people by following the footstep of our founder. As Father Angel Fernandez Artime (Rector Major) said; “It is good to find moments to retreat into our heart, away from the hustle and bustle, and have a heart-to-heart conversation with God.”
Don Bosco’s way of accompanying the young with the gentle and loving kindness of St. Francis de Sales, and his determination to provide a safe environment for the vulnerable young is a model for us to follow in the pastoral works for/with the young today. Fr. Joe pointed out that young people today, as in Don Bosco’s time, need our attention, our attentive listening, our every effort to protect them, to provide them with a safe environment and to lead them to know Jesus.
Child protection and safety is of paramount importance for our mission to the young. To make us aware of the seriousness of this, Fr. Joe highlighted the issues we Salesians are continuing to face today by sharing audios and reading materials about abuses of the young by clergy and the church leaders. He stated; ‘Physical and psychological abuses must never take place in any Salesian community or even allowed to happen with any of the young people under our care. Of course, we can be in contact like playing sports and other social activities, but today is different from yesterday. Be alert every time of who you are among the young, carry the name of the Salesians and the church.
Br. Anh Vu shared that “All the topics and reflections that Fr. Joe presented were a huge challenge to us especially because the very mission of a Salesian is for the young. We must never lose sight of the Salesian charism, the examples of St. Francis de Sales and Don Bosco, in our life and pastoral work with the young. This Retreat has helped me not just to see and be with young people but to realise the tremendous responsibility we have in care for the young and to help them to know Jesus.” Our annual retreat concluded with the night prayer, followed by the renewal of vows led by Father Joseph Lee.
Our sincere thanks to Father Joe Lee SDB, for such a great opportunity to hear his words of wisdom and encouragement regarding this important theme of child protection and safeguarding the young in our congregation, in the Church, in our society. As a community, we are indeed very grateful to Fr. Joe for directing our Retreat.
May the Spirit of God stir our hearts and minds to create unique ideas for the ongoing of our mission among the young. Mary Help of all Christians, Pray for us!