SALVO (Salesian Lay Volunteers), FIS, Philippines South, 8 September 2020 -- Since April 3, 2020, SALVO has posted 148 online goodnight talks shared by the Salesian Brothers, Priests or Bishops, FMA Sisters, Salesian Cooperators, Don Bosco Past Pupils, Lay Mission Partners and Friends of Don Bosco, Caritas Sisters of Jesus and Youth coming from EAO region and beyond such as USA, Canada, South Africa, Czech Republic, Brazil, India, Italy, United Kingdom, Paraguay or Syria. Link: SALVO YouTube channel
How did the idea of a daily Goodnight talk online every day come about?
When I was undergoing the mandatory 14-day quarantine and had nothing to do, I was thinking that this pandemic crisis will last longer than we expected. So I started reflecting for alternative activities for SALVO to move forward. While doing that, I came to know that our SDB provincial (FIS) was invited to give a live virtual goodnight talk to the novices, since he too was in quarantine that time after returning from GC28 in Italy. I was delighted that this was possible and was inspired about the idea that this pandemic outbreak does not stop us from doing what we have been doing. Instead, the situation calls us (Salesian family) to do something more than ever. This is not the time to lost hope but we have to be the source of hope to others. With that, I proposed of bringing the Salesian tradition of Goodnight talk to the homes through online platforms every night, this time involving the various SF members to become inspiration and comforting messages for others and food for their mind and soul during the lockdown period. Personally, I am curious what the SF in the grassroots are thinking and feeling nowadays and interested to hear their stories or learn something new especially from other Salesian mission areas. This is indeed a collective effort of SALVO (Salesian Lay Volunteers) team and friends.
How easy or difficult is to get every day one person to share the Goodnight?
It was not too easy nor too difficult. The only challenge was that not all will accept the invitation because some are not comfortable in speaking in front of the video camera which I completely understood because personally I am also like that. There were a few times during the first month that we were not able to post the online goodnight talks because some invited people could not send the videos on time due to internet connection problems or unforeseen personal constraints. There are people who have been helping SALVO to look for or recommend for possible goodnight sharers. Thanks to Fr. Arvin, Bro. Louie, Sr. Claudia, Fr. Lan and some other Salesian Family friends for their support and help. Sometimes we would receive an inquiry what are the ‘qualifications to be able to share’ his/her Goodnight. Some viewers would also recommend or ask us to invite a particular person to share. There were times without any video available for at least the next day, so we prayed to our Blessed Mother that someone will send their videos soon. I think the Blessed Mother approves and is happy about this activity because at the end of the day at least one or more sends their goodnight talk videos. It was one of the exciting part of preparing the online goodnight talks every night.
What keeps you going on day by day?
First - I consider myself a fan and believer of St. John Bosco, his life and mission, that it makes me happy to continue his legacy in my own simple way. I have this fascination to Don Bosco that I can’t explain deep down inside. When I think and feel it, I just cried out of joy. So the task of preparing the goodnight talks becomes light and easy. Perhaps, if I was born as a man there’s a great chance that I would become a Salesian as well.
Secondly, I believe that there are thousands of Salesian Family across the globe who want to share their goodnight talks for our youth and fellow SF members. And many of us really want listen to goodnight talks. We need each other to uplift and comfort ourselves in this time of uncertainties through our words of wisdom, stories and reflections shared in goodnights.
Lastly, because there are people who are very eager to help SALVO in making this possible, I am even more motivated to keep going.
What is your learning experience from this GNT marathon?
I get to know more and appreciate the richness of the Salesian Family, its members and their stories of transformation, hardships, success and how they were shaped because of the Salesian education they receive or share. This is just one of the living testimonies that the Salesian spirituality can transform lives even in different parts of the world. Before we used to listen goodnight talks only from the Salesians, now the past pupils and the youth are able to share some thoughts for personal and spiritual nourishment.
It taught me to be more patient and not to give up like Don Bosco. If one has a will there’s always a way. If this is something that I can help the Salesians to continue in accompanying the youth and our presence can still be felt by the young people despite the physical limitations, then I have to grab any available new opportunities.
Would you like to invite any countries, provinces from the peripheries who are not yet part of this?
Yes, this would be great. If you know someone that we can reach out we are much open for your recommendations and we are more than happy to invite them to share a goodnight talk. It would also be nice to meet new SF and get to know our Salesians works in their respective communities.
Any special wisdom emerging from daily goodnights?
Would you keep going with daily goodnights in the future?
As of the moment, I don’t see it coming to an end unless the Salesian in charge of SALVO will say so or it will become irrelevant because we are slowly going back to what we used to be. And just like what I have said earlier that there are a great number of SF around the world who are willing to participate and just waiting to be tapped. One year is not enough for all of them to share their goodnight talks.
Editor's note: There are also other online series of goodnight talks and good day talks that are happening now within the EAO region. For instance, Vietnam SC has started their goodnights in Vietnamese, DBFC-Lawaan, DBTC- Cebu, Dumaguete St. Louis-Don Bosco, Don Bosco Canlubang or Australia Mission Month (Aug – Sept) daily Goodnights and many others. It’s good to know that a lot of us are practising this long-standing Salesian tradition to reach out to more young people and the Salesian family members - especially the Past Pupils.