Letter from the Rector Major
Dear confreres and friends of the Salesian missions,
I greet you on the day of the Solemnity of Pentecost which, in this Year of Faith, prompts us to rediscover the beauty of believing. It urges us to seek a renewed en- thusiasm in communicating to others the precious gift of faith, and in bringing young people to Jesus Christ, especially those who have not yet been evangelized.
This is the 27 th time that the Rector Major proposes to the Congregation a mis- sionary theme that will help to make known the generous commitment of so many con- freres, and at the same time, encourage personal and community growth in the mis- sionary dimension of our vocation. In 2014 our attention will turn to the continent of Europe, and especially to the situation of immigrants. The theme “We are the others – commitment towards immigrants in Europe,” is part of the pro- gramme of Project Europe.
I propose therefore some basic motivat- ing factors for the Salesian Missions Day, which has already taken its place in the annual educative-pastoral programme of many provinces.
1. A VISIBLE SIGN THAT GIVES NEW LIFE TO OUR CHARISM
In the third year of preparation for the Bicentenary of the Birth of Don Bosco we are invited to study his spirituality and make it our own. Certainly his interior life was en- riched by his own personal experience of the phenomenon of migration. He was forced to leave his home at Becchi, due to a variety of circumstances, and migrate in search of a place where he could continue peacefully his personal development. In his pastoral work, he devoted himself from the beginning to the care of young men, the majority of whom were migrants from the valleys near the city of Turin.
His attention to this social situation was broadened when he began his work for the missions. He sent his first missionaries to Argentina telling them that their priority was to be the care of Italian emigrants in Buenos Aires.
In the year 2011, the Commission for Project Europe threw the spotlight on commitment to migrants as a theme that would give new life to the Salesian charism in the old continent. In fact, for several years now, the Salesian mission has been urging us to be open to young people and their families coming from other places, of different cultures and religions, now pres- ent in the areas where we work. The theme suggested for SMD 2014 should help us to revive our missionary spir- it and become more sensitive to one of the great signs of our time – the phenomenon of migration.
2. SEE MIGRANTS AS A RESOURCE FOR THE REVITALIZATION OF THE CHURCH IN EUROPE
The theme of SMD 2014 urges us to see migrants not only as people to whom we are sent because they need our help, but also as an important resource for the revi- talization of the local Churches in Europe.
Mobility can become a precious opportuni- ty to get in contact with other cultures and open up our mono-cultural communities to the catholicity of the universal Church.
We are invited to take note of the numer- ous vocations to consecrated life, priestly and lay, which are to be found in different migrant communities in the countries of Eu-rope. In many countries more than 15% of the clergy are no longer native or indi- genous. The very future of the Church in Europe depends on the acceptance and in- tegration of immigrants. From this point of view, the presence in 12 European countries of 80 Salesian missionaries from outside Europe is an inspiring sign and a catalyst in the process of intercultural integration.
3. HELP AND ACCEPT MIGRANTS IN THE ENVIRONMENTS WHERE WE ARE WORKING
One of the concrete ways of expressing the pastoral heart of Don Bosco is to be open to the world of migrants, who are now present in almost all the countries of the world. The present experience in Europe can inspire new initiatives in big cities in other continents, for example, in the United States with Hispanic and Asiatic immi- grants, or in Africa with internal migrants and with the millions of Chinese. In Islamic countries or in Asia, immi- grants often constitute the majority of the Catholic population. The community of Christian migrants help to revitalize the Church everywhere, whether in the secular- ized world of Europe or among the great religions of Asia. The influx of immigrants is a phenomenon present in all eight Salesian regions. This calls us to open our hearts to all migrants, especially the young, who need to be welcomed and accompanied as they become inserted in a new culture. For this reason, it is proper to think in terms of formation which prepares us to be educa- tors and evangelizers in contexts constantly becoming more and more pluri-cultural. I believe that this is not something optional, but a call from God to be taken seriously.
Dear confreres and friends, the Solemn- ity of Pentecost which we are celebrating fills our lungs once more with the Holy Spirit and enables us to accept the challenge to go out of ourselves and accept others. In this way we can reactivate the original inspiration of Don Bosco, caring for the young migrants of Turin and Argentina. I thank you already for the concrete response you will give to the invitation of the Apostle: “The love of Christ urges us” (cf 2 Cor 5,14)… towards the migrants! I entrust this Salesian Missions Day 2014, and all of you and each one of you, to the guidance and motherly care of Mary Imma- culate, our Help.
Yours affectionately in Don Bosco Don
Pascual Chávez Villanueva
help us to welcome you with an open heart
in anyone around us who is a stranger.
Help us to appreciate the richness of other cultures and
religions, and accept them as a gift
for our society and the Christian community.
guide us to accept and accompany migrants
in our cities, schools, parishes and oratories.
Help us to involve them
in building up the Kingdom of God and our society.
Infuse in us a pastoral heart like that of Don Bosco.
Mary, Mother of God,
intercede for those who share their lives with migrants.
Help us to remove prejudice and mental barriers.
Help our legislators create better conditions.