By TLS SC
Dili, Timor Leste, 16 October 2019 -- There are not many Salesians of Don Bosco who are specialized in the theology of consecrated life. The late Fr Anton Tran Duc Dao (VIE province, died in 2014) was probably the only Salesian PhD in this area. Fr Jose Ximenes da Silva (TLS Vice Province, now living and working in the Quelicai community) is one of them. After his study over the past few years in Quezon City - Metro Manila, Philippines, he defended his thesis on the 'Living witness of religious obedience' at the ICLA (Institute for Consecrated Life in Asia) under the guidance of Claretians.
According to Fr. Ximenes, the thesis is 'intended for the Salesians of Don Bosco in Timor Leste, who truly desire to get involved and thereby respond to the urgent need of saving the souls of the young in our present world and the future which is surrounded by both widespread societal advancement and an increasing number of the poor who are rejected because of individualism and materialism.
'The thesis looks at the challenges that the Church and religious in Timor Leste are being faced with in the continued attempts to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to maintain the living witness of religious obedience to God’s will in today's world. As Salesians in Timor Leste we have an important role and responsibility on our shoulders. There are political and moral issues in our society. They affect our emotional and spiritual life; they tend to provoke different reactions from us and sometimes they make us weaken our faith. Yet we ourselves strive to live as a hope of the country and of the Church in Timor Leste, because of our significant mission for the young, in educating them and forming them as good Christians and upright citizens, based on the system of education handed down by St John Bosco: Father, teacher and friend of the young. By educating the young and encouraging them in their enthusiasm to live a better life, they become the protagonists of the Gospel, by leading others, especially their peers, to live a Christ-centered life despite the manifold challenges in life. The presence and capability of the young in our midst is a sign of hope for the life and mission of Church and our future Salesian Congregation'.
The 160 page thesis may be an inspiring source for ongoing formation in our EAO provinces given its extensive bibliography regarding religious obedience, the dynamics impacting on witness to obedience in the context of Timor Leste (and many similar situations in our region).
It concerns living our obedience as a missionary act (Missio Dei), as a cultural value (solidarity, relationship, fidelity), as discipleship (constitutive of following Christ), and as a community virtue and an expression of faith.
The final considerations about living the vow of obedience in the specific Timor Leste context might be a good trigger for our formators, candidates and young Salesians.