Rome, 26 July 2021 -- Just a month after the first successful Asia-Oceania Congress of the Past Pupils of Don Bosco (25-26 June) a ground-breaking online meeting for Past Pupil Delegates formation has been held. Twenty one (21) SDB and one GEX (Young past pupils) spent 2 hours exchanging their experience and inspiration in the accompaniment that emerged during the Congress of this largest group of the Salesian Family. One of the main messages of the Congress: "We need more interested and animated Salesian delegates among us!"
A very fruitful and enthusiastic open forum was introduced with an 'Echo' of the recent Regional Congress, especially with the results of the group sharing on main challenges and priorities. Most highlighted were the themes of communication and launching of the Young past pupils (GEX) in each Don Bosco presence. But the main aim of this meeting was to motivate and test the ground for the formation of SDBs as Delegates to the Past pupils.
Some personal insights may inspire many EAO Salesians, all potentias Delegates for the Past Pupils of Don Bosco:
- "For me the most important insight that my animating role of the DB Past pupils is not just a 'part time job', but it's part of my vocation. I would like to give the best to this task entrusted by my provincial
- In our vice-province we are still at the starting point, so myself and other SDBs need to learn about the Association and the 'art of following up our graduates'
- During the Congress I understood more the importance of the Delegates' role for the Past Pupils
- I keep many not-yet answered questions about the identity and mission of our Past pupils
- In our vice-province the Association of DBPP is not yet established but we have many young Alumni, who are eager to start the Association (Union). However during the AO Congress they felt 'out of place' since on the screen there were mosty old people (Past Pupils)
- The Congress was an eye-opener, especially the sharing about Past Pupils solidarity during the pandemic. We feel a need of constant communication to share our Past pupil experiences in different countries.
- The first resolution of the AO Congress about the 'Delegate interest and accompaniment' struck my heart
- As provincial delegate I struggle to reach all local delegates, but we don't loose patience and hope
- After the AO Congress our (senior) Past pupils felt more proud about their worldwide Confederation."
Among the 22 participants the presence of recently appointed delegates or rectors was significant (FIS-Dumaguete and FIS-Pakistan; VIE - Ben Cat, CIN - Tainan), as well as proactive presence of Cambodia Delegate-Superior (Fr Roel Soto) with his delegates for ASC and DB Past Pupils, the vibrant animating presence of Fr Joseph Phuoc (EAO regional councillor) and Provincial delegates for the Salesian Family - some of them also with explicit animation of the Past Pupils (PGS, TLS, INA, KOR and THA). Although we missed 5 provincial delegates, two of them sent their apology and we remember them in our prayers.
In order to prepare the Delegate's online formation according to their needs, the participants voiced their expectations. The great majority has chosen the following from among the 10 themes in the 'DB Past Pupil Leadership Handbook': Self-formation of the Delegate; Past Pupils as members of the large Salesian Family of Don Bosco; Mission of the DB Past pupils and How to start a new local Union (esp. with the GEX - young past pupils). Some concrete expectations may inspire also Salesians in all 12 EAO provinces and 6 delegations:
- As Salesian delegates we need to be guided as animators in our important role in the Association
- Need to get more clarity about the Past pupils mission ('giving back') especially in non-Christian environment
- First we need to consolidate the process of the Salesian family animation in our vice-province
- Some SDBs in our country don't yet appreciate the Past Pupils sufficiently (facing internal challenge)
- Need to clarify the identity of Past Pupils (of Don Bosco, of FMA etc)
- Need to create more effective network how to assist our GEX who are foreign migrant workers (e.g. VIE in GIA)
Before the final 'Prayer-Promise of the DB Past Pupils' recited by Mr Rafael Swith (THA-GEX coordinator) the EAO Regional Councillor wrapped up this meeting: Giving thanks for the Superiors support for their Past Pupil Delegates, asking you to bring the formation of SDB as potential delegates already to our initial formation houses and encourage all present to be more motivated in their patient work of accompaniment in this 'hour of lay people' in education and evangelization (GC28). Also provincial delegates were encouraged to make frequent visits (now online possible!) to the local centers of Past pupils.
Asa result of this 'formation launching' meeting, there will probably be three more EAO regional online meeting of the Delegates in the second semester of 2021.
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