By Fr. Arun Michael Charles, SDB (Cambodia delegation)
EAO Missionary Animation Coordinator
Valdocco, Turin, 2 February 2023 -- The 7th World Advisory Council for the Salesian Missions took place from 27-20 January 2023, this time involving the 7 regional coordinators for missionary animation (CORAM) convoked by the General Councillor for the Missions, Fr Alfred Maravilla and also involving the Missions Sector team - Fr Pavel, Fr George and Mr. Marco Fulgaro. [CORAM is Coordinatore regionale d' Animazione Missionaria: Regional Coordinator for Missionary Animation]
The first World Advisory Council meeting was held in Rome in 2008. And now for the first time, meeting after GC28 with one participant online (newly appointed CORAM of Mediteranean region from Portugal). It was an intense time of sharing by each of the 7 SDB regional coordinators regarding the situation of missionary animation. There was also a time of evaluation and planning, especially in view of the upcoming 150th anniversary of the Salesian missions in 2025.
We are happy to share the personal experience of the EAO regional coordinator for missionary animation, Fr Charles Arun from the Cambodia delegation:
"I was invited to attend the World Advisory Council meeting, made of 'CORAM', between 27-30 January 2023. Visiting Valdocco after more than 10 years was very interesting. To go and pray at the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians brought me memories of when I received my missionary cross in 2010. This was not just nostalgia but also a deeper feeling of having a tangible experience of Don Bosco and the beginnings of the Valdocco Oratory.
Maybe the last time I was in Turin, I was too overwhelmed with the fact that I was going out as a missionary to Cambodia. Well, this time was different. I took time to take it all in and it was a wonderful feeling. I spent time at the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in prayer and reflection. Standing up at the window of Don Bosco’s room from where he saw his ‘boys’. Revisiting Don Bosco… from just reading and hearing about him to actually being there was inspiring.
We were taken on a tour guided by Fr. Mike Pace to a few significant sites in Salesian history (in and around Turin). This was instrumental in giving me a different perspective on the mission and life of Don Bosco. Don Bosco was not just a man of action but a man who gave equal time and energy to study, reflection and prayer.
Now, this part of Don Bosco was not often stressed in our initial formation and this was very interesting.
Going back now to why I was in Turin – the World Advisory Council for the Missions (Consulta or CORAM meeting). This meeting was very fraternal and in spite of the fact that we were from different continents and spoke different languages we had one thing in common – our love for Don Bosco and the passion to spread the love and mission of Don Bosco to all. More than the information exchange it was a good opportunity to be able to meet these exceptional Salesians and spend time with them.
Viva Jesu! Viva Maria! Viva Don Bosco!"
ANS - Turin) - Finally in presence, the Missions Sector Consultation Body, with the Missions Councilor, Fr. Alfred Maravilla, his team, and the Regional Coordinators for Missionary Animation (RCMA), met from January 27-30.
The meeting was a fraternal moment of formation, sharing, and looking toward the future. Fr. Václav Klement, Councilor for Missions from 2008 to 2014, recently appointed superior of the Southern African Vice-Province (AFM), presented the history of the Consultation Body, its birth, its development, and the results that have emerged from these meetings over the years.
Fr. Maravilla, for his part, pointed out some important elements to understand the role and identity of the RCMAs for Salesian missionary animation. The emphasis is not so much on "doing," on the quantity of activities to be carried out, but on rethinking being missionaries today, on revitalizing the missionary spirit of every Salesian.
Each of the participants presented the situation of missionary animation in his own Region: Fr. Sunny Palamthattel for South Asia, Fr. Arun Charles for East Asia-Oceania, Fr. Štefan Kormančik for Central and Northern Europe, Fr. Sergio Ramos for South Cone America, Fr. Hernán Carmona for Interamerica and Fr. Privat Fouda for Africa-Madagascar. Fr. Silvio Faria, new RCMA for the Mediterranean Region, connected from Portugal.
Prominent among the points that emerged was the importance of networking and collaboration with other Sectors and the laity.
Part of the meeting was dedicated to sharing ongoing projects and ideas in view of the 150th anniversary of the First Salesian Missionary Expedition, which will occur in 2025.
Having experienced these days in the places of Don Bosco, presented in a profound way by Fr. Mike Pace, right on the eve of the feast of the Father, Teacher, and Friend of the Young gave new sap to continue on the path of missionary animation around the world with heightened conviction.