By Fr Gerry Martin, SDB
Rome, Italy, 14 July 2019 -- The 82nd Road Map has been given by the Rector Major, Fr Ángel F. Artime, to another new provincial. This time Fr. Gerardo Martin (Gerry) spent his few days in the General House at the end of the beautiful Silver Jubilee Pilgrimage (from the Holy Land to Turin and Rome) from 11-15 July. Beside the personal talks and time with the General Councilors, Fr Gerry dedicated his time to walking and praying in various Basilicas and memorable Churches in Rome. After five days in Rome, before returning to his FIN Province of St John Bosco, Fr Gerry shares his experience:
"I am excited and at the airport waiting to go home, while reflecting on what has happened to me over the past 23 days. It started with the pilgrimage of our group, Fr Joel Camaya, Fr Mon Borja, Fr Ding Cortez, Fr Dindo Vitug and myself, to celebrate our 25 years of Salesian religious profession. Our pilgrimage had the theme of the missionary journey of St Paul. What we thought of as a journey away actually became a “coming home!” Starting from the Holy Land, we followed the path to Ephesus, Thessaloniki, Athens, Malta and finally Rome. Every time we reached our destination, it became a coming back home and touching base with what we learned in Scriptures from our Theologate days in Paranaque. It became a coming home to memories, coming home to friendship, coming home to our Salesian consecration, a coming home to renewed faith.
Of course we went to Valdocco and Colle Don Bosco and its surrounding Salesian holy places. As we traced the places of birth, the childhood, student/seminary days and wandering oratory of Don Bosco, we were proclaiming in our hearts and our lips, “we are Home!” We are blessed and happy to be in Don Bosco’s home; making our connection with him not only in spirit, but also tangible, visual and even gastronomical.
Finally, we reached Rome. After going to the places where St. Paul was, we went to Sacro Cuore. My companions celebrated Mass at the historic side altar of Mary Help of Christians in the Basilica of Sacro Cuore (where Don Bosco cried 15 times celebrating mass in 1887 as he understood all that the Lady told him in his dream at nine). For us, this was a most fitting ending to our pilgrimage home. It made us put together the 25 years of Salesian life in a moment of gratitude to God, to Mary help of Christians and to Don Bosco.
Meanwhile I stayed behind in Sacro Cuore for five days more. As the new provincial of FIN, I took the opportunity of our pilgrimage to meet the Rector Major and his General Councillors. What I thought would be a nerve-wracking moment was actually a time of calm, peace, joy, gratitude and feeling welcomed. I thank Fr. Ángel and his General Council and the Generalate Community for their warm hospitality and expression of fraternity, particularly Fr Vaclav, Bro. Mon Callo and Bro Jess Garcia. But most of all, I thank Fr Ángel and the General Councillors for the “Road map” for the province, their prayers and pledge of support not only to me but most of all to every one in FIN. It is so good to be Home, to feel at home. As I head back to FIN, I can’t wait to share the grace of this homecoming to everone. Salamat!"