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       VDB, Seoul - South Korea, 7 August 2022 -- The Volunteers of Don Bosco (VDB) secular institute, after 105 years of history is slowly putting down roots also in the Asian environment of a Catholic minority and a variety of multi-religion societies. More than 50 years after the first VDB group in Macau, there are already four different VDB regions in this part of the world: Philippines (40+VDB), China-Japan (20+VDB), Thailand-Cambodia-India (40+VDB) and Korea (25 VDB) - a total of 153 VDB. Korea region (KOA) with two groups in Seoul and Gwangju comprise 22 professed members and 3 aspirants accompanied by 3 SDB ecclesiastic assistants: Fr Raphael Lee (region), Fr Paolo Na (Seoul group) and Fr Bonaventura Kim (Gwangju group). Among the 1128 VDB in the world, this is one of the youngest and growing parts of the VDB Secular Institute.

       Due to the youthful situation of the VDB Korea region (KOA, since 2014) the VDB supreme moderator, DK, accepted to preach their annual spiritual retreat in 2022, from July 31 to August 6, in Seoul. Due to the strong wave of Covid in Korea, DK managed to meet her sisters every day during one talk, with goodnight and personal talks (all online, with good simultaneous interpretation from Slovakian to Korean).

       The theme of the VDB annual retreat aimed at the strengthening and deepening of personal relationship with Jesus Christ in the secular consecrated environment and Salesian spirit. The morning talk was given by Fr Henry Bonetti, SDB and the afternoon talk by DK. The Korean VDB appreciated the complementarity of both inputs and were strongly encouraged and enlighten in their faith and vocation journey. The constant and silent presence of two Korean SDB ecclesiastical assistants during the whole week also contributed to a strong vocational impact. One of the aspirants shares: 'Through DK, I'm happy to understand deeply our Constitutions as way to serve Jesus Christ with a joyful heart'.

       One of the Seoul VDB sisters is also the Korea coordinator of the 'Secular Institutes Association' and their constant vocation growth confirms their growing charismatic maturity. Among the VDB you find educators, public servants, counsellors, nurses, group home social workers or coffee shop owners. Although their main mission is witness like 'Jesus in Nazareth' or like 'yeast' that makes the human family grow from within, some of them are also deeply involved in their own parish or youth ministry.

       The opportunity of a personal talk of each VDB with their major superior was really a heart warming, strongly motivating, sometimes also eye-opening and mutually enriching moment for all participants. During the retreat the VDB also received from the Korean FMA provincial, Sr Cecilia Kim, a souvenir of their 150th anniversary of foundation and the traditional exchange of a small token between the 'Center' and Korean VDB made this occasion a strong experience of family spirit. In spite of the physical absence, the sense of belonging to one VDB 'family' was enhanced in many ways.

       After one week of spiritual refreshment and recharging the Korean VDB are very grateful to their major superior (Italian: Responsabile Maggiore) for many concrete stories from VDB life in other continents. They are now able to understand more deeply and clearly this 'Salesian secular consecrated vocation', 105 years after the foundation by Blessed Philip Rinaldi, SDB (third successor of Don Bosco) in 1917.

       We give thanks for the gift of the secular consecrated vocation to the whole Church, to the Salesian family and to the society at large!

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