Interview with Mr. Laurentio Shin, ASC
Seoul, Korea, 16 December 2018 -- Laurentio Shin, ASC, is a committed member of the formation school for aspirants to the Salesian Cooperators and is accompanying a new ASC centre attached to the ‘Nazareth Dream House’ – group home for young refugees from the North who are living in Seoul.
What is the story of your Salesian Cooperator vocation?
While working since 2002 at Don Bosco Media and involved in the Salesian Bulletin and Don Bosco-related publications, I was attracted by the Saint himself - Don Bosco! Then naturally I came to know the Salesian Cooperators and was interested. In the spring of 2008, while interviewing two young Salesian Cooperators, I was so touched by their vocation story that I decided to become a Salesian Cooperator myself. Six months later I started as an aspirant, doing my formation in the Seoul – Daerimdong Salesian Cooperators Centre (Holy Family team) and after 3 years of initial formation I made my promise as a Salesian Cooperator on 27 November 2011.
How was your work on the ASC renewed formation handbook?
Since the early days of my ASC formation in Daerimdong centre when we were reading the old (1998) version of the formation textbook, I started to think about a new version. The reason for this enterprise was simple – the text was not easy to read, there were only a few parts about Don Bosco and the outdated version of the PAL had been used. Already before my promise I started to collect some suitable stories for the eventual upgrade of the formation textbook.
The ASC provincial council (May 2016) also felt a growing need for a new edition, and together with a few concrete points the task was shared out. While one member of the provincial council was asked to see to corrections of the PAL new edition, Laurentio Shin Tae Hong was entrusted with the whole modification and layout.
Between June 2016 and March 2017 the whole project was completed and approved by Fr Stefano Yang, SDB – provincial of Korea, with the following updates: many Don Bosco stories were adapted from the ‘Salesian Bulletin’, new version of the PAL (2013), new translation of the Scriptures and Vatican II documents were used and also the overall layout operation. Then the complete ‘formation textbook’ in 3 volumes with 29 units was published, almost 20 years after the first formation book edition in 1998.
What keeps you going in your vocation journey as a Salesian Cooperator?
In the spiritual and apostolic Salesian Family we are all trying to follow Don Bosco in communion with other groups, unlike other devotional groups or other third orders. But I feel that among the Cooperators, solid knowledge of their identity and deep conviction is not really so strong. Even the SDBs and FMA religious at times are not truly knowledgeable about the Salesian Cooperators Association.
Since we strongly believe that only a solid formation in ‘Don Bosco – Salesian Spirit – Project of Apostolic Life’ could strengthen awareness of our identity, we consider the whole formation process to be very important. When I was working in DB Media, I read many books assiduously and personally made a great effort while working on the various books we published.
Although we invest a lot in quality initial formation (3 year course) in each of the Salesian Cooperator monthly meetings (sharing and apostolate) and through the ‘formation school’ (province level monthly talks, available also on the internet (www.cooperator.co.kr), until now the importance of ongoing formation has not been sufficiently felt. Many Cooperators are still absent during the two recollections each year (Advent and Easter) and for the annual conference. Also there is a great difference between the standard of preparation of the local centre coordinators and formation councillors (ASC).
What are the main challenges encountered in the monthly local ASC centre meetings?
For those interested in our Salesian Cooperators vocation we still miss the ‘Orientation Handbook’ (NB – importance of the monthly meeting, participation in the yearly conference and recollection or in the formation school). In the absence of the local coordinator or formation councillor at times, aspirants are not fully aware of their basic duties during their first year or even up to the time they take their promise.
I feel, that our identity as Salesian Cooperators should grow stronger. At times we only see an emphasis on the apostolate, but we need a balance between apostolate and formation.
Another challenge is non-active Cooperators. Yes, we pray for them, but we also need some more concrete action to bring them back to active involvement.
How did your experience working at DB Media contribute to the growth of your Salesian vocation?
From 2002 to 2014 I was employed full-time in Don Bosco Media. Sincer 2014 until now I am still involved as a part-time adviser. Through the work in the DB Media (Seoul) I received the call as a Salesian Cooperator and it also had a great impact on my vocation journey over the past 10 years. First, this work helped a lot to grow in awareness of my Salesian Cooperator identity and helped me to be open to the inspiration through my work on the Salesian Cooperators formation textbook. I’m deeply convinced that reading and writing about Don Bosco and Salesian saints stories, the letters of the Rector major or the stories of Salesian missionaries are a great help to the growth of my Salesian Cooperator vocation.
Your dream for quality formation of the Salesian Cooperators in Korea?
I think, at present we should be concerned about the ongoing formation of Salesian Cooperators. As shared already above the formation of formators (local coordinators and formation councillors) should become a priority. I would be grateful if the SDB and FMA religious would understand our vocation and our Association more deeply. In our present situation in Korea, we need to be concerned more about the apostolate to North Korean refugees present in the South and also to be more committed to the mission for the numerous migrant workers in our country.