By Fr. Ramoncito Padilla, SDB
Dili, East Timor, 6 June 2015 - Upon the invitation of the Vice-Provincial and the Delegate for the Salesian Family, Fr. Apolinario Maria Ornai Neto, some 200 members of the Salesian Family from all over Timor gathered together on the 5th day of June in the Centro Tecnico Don Bosco, Comoro, Dili, for their annual gathering and the Salesian Family Feast Day. The aim of the gathering, according to Fr. Apolinario, is to strengthen the Salesian spirit and unity by being active members of the Don Bosco’s one, great family.
To start off the Salesian Family Day, the Provincial, Fr. Virgilio do Carmo da Silva, gave the opening conference. He dedicated almost an hour to speak about the Strenna of the Rector Major for this year: Como Dom Bosco, com os Jovens, para os Jovens (Like Don Bosco: with the Young, and for the Young), encouraging everyone to be mystics in the spirit, prophets of unity and servant-leaders of the young. There was a lively exchange of opinions during the open forum, and many would like to raise a question, but the time was limited. After all that was said, the participants are now more eager to go the peripheries of the land (as Pope Francis and the Rector Major are encouraging everyone to do), although they know that they could not save all the young people of the nation, and to be more united as a family, under the animation and inspirations from the SDBs and the FMAs.
After the Conference, there was Adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, with opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Then, the Eucharistic Celebration was precided by the Provincial, concelebrated by around fourteen Salesian priests, animators of different Salesian Family groups. Fr. Provincial, in his homily, encouraged everyone to prepare well for the Bicentenary of Don Bosco’s Birth especially by imitating Don Bosco’s virtues in their families, workplace and communities.
A grand family meal, prepared by the Past Pupils of Dili, followed. A wonderful musical program was presented for the Salesian Family by the pupils of the St. Peter’s School, run by the SDBs in Comoro, Dili. The Provincial, then, took the opportunity to announce the pilgrimages to the Salesian places during the Bicentenary, and thanked everyone who came for the Family Feast. Each group went back to their own places, happy to know that besides living in communion with their own group in the Salesian Family, there are many other groups with whom they share the same spirit and, with specifically distinct vocations, continue the mission Don Bosco began.
In East Timor, seven of the 30 Salesian Family groups already exists: the Salesians of Don Bosco (100+), the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (60+), the Association of Salesian Cooperators (40+), the Association of Mary Help of Christians (2000+, the Volunteers of Don Bosco (3+), the Association of the Past Pupils of the Salesians of Don Bosco and the Association of the Past Pupils of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. Many of the lay members of the Salesian Family are not only proud to be in the Family, but are also cooperating in the building up of the new nation as “good Christians and honest citizens” (as Don Bosco said). There are many also who are ministers in government and active members of lay associations in the parishes.