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"Like ships, Salesians are not built for safe harbour!"

By Fr Will Matthews
Provincial Australia-Pacific

Melbourne, Australia, 25 August 2020 -- We are happy to share the ongoing experience of Salesian Mission Day 2020 within the Australia - Pacific (AUL) province of Australia-New Zealand-Fiji-Samoa. In his recent Circular letter n0. 621 (24 August 2020), Fr Will Matthews (AUL provincial) motivates his confreres with his introduction page 'From the Provincial':

"Dear Confreres, having been to a number of Salesian Regional meetings in the last few years and the Salesian General Chapter in Turin earlier this year, I have come across many Salesians from other parts of the world who asked me if I was a missionary to Australia. Many Salesians were puzzled and surprised to meet me as the Provincial of Australia - Pacific Province. I smile and with my usual reply that I migrated to Australia with my family, joining the Province as a prenovice, having had all priestly training in Melbourne before being ordained a priest in my home town Perth, and now serving as the 11th Provincial. In short, I assure the inquisitors that I was not a missionary sent to Australia.

But, I affirm and make a point that every Salesian is a missionary by nature regardless of where you come from and where you serve. Our Province is built on the hard work of missionaries primarily from Europe. We are truly grateful for the firm foundation established by those selfless Confreres. Some Confreres are still living, and celebrating big anniversaries of Profession and Ordination.

In the past weeks, a young Vietnamese missionary, Br Peter Duc, professed his perpetual vows into the hands of Fr Jim Hoe in Fiji who represented the Rector Major. Another Vietnamese missionary, Br Peter Vu, renewed his vows in Salelologa into the hands of Fr Petelo Vito, a representative of the Rector Major. Both Peter Duc and Peter Vu might remind many elderly Salesians in the Province who were in similar positions in Australia over 50, 60 or 70 years ago. They can now look back with profound gratitude and thank God for their calling and the sacrifices they have made.

A Salesian without missionary spirit is not a Salesian at all! He is not true to his vocation. Don Bosco wanted all his sons to be missionaries to the young wherever they may be: schools, youth centres, parishes, camps, playgrounds and virtual worlds.

Recently, the Provincial Delegate for Missionary Animation, Lauren Hichaaba, sent out a message to you all promoting missionary awareness in your community and work especially from 15th August to 15 September. The theme this year is ‘Initial Proclamation through Oratories and Youth Centres’. We are asked to emphasize more in the playgrounds to share and witness the love of God to the young through our lives and action.

Sometimes, as human beings, some Salesians may feel extremely comfortable where they are, who they are with and what they are doing. It is extremely easy to be sitting in our comfort zone and wasting time with those who are not necessarily needed.

Like ships, Salesians are not built for safe harbour. We must reach out to the young those who are in need like the refugees, migrants, children from broken homes, young people with various forms of addictions, and the young with mental and social issues.

Also as a Province, we are heading towards the centenary celebrations in 2023. It is now time to remind and reflect as individuals, as communities and as a province of our missionary spirit for the poor and the abandoned. Let us reignite the passion of missionary zeal in each one of us. We have become professed and consecrated Salesians not to do our will but to do the will of God.

Every Salesian is a faith-filled missionary who does the will of God. A guarantee for our true happiness is to have absolute faith in God and to do His will. St Paul says in his letter to the Philippians ‘Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say; rejoice!’ [4:4]"

  • SMD 2020 Resources for download (animation booklet) and 5 videos on the Youtube

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