GC27: Dynamism and Realism – Challenges and Opportunities

Part 1

After their reflection on our origins during the introductory pilgrimage to the Salesian places, the Chapter members had a second introduction with the reports on the different sectors and regions. These reports constitute a significant part of the animation and government of the Congregation.

IB_11509__2014The Councillors in charge of the different departments and regions gave their reports one after another, and the Chapter members greatly appreciated all fifteen reports. There was a lot of variety in the reports, light and shadow,  targets reached and challenges that are constantly being renewed, as well as some initial proposals for the new six-year term that is about to begin.

The reports were illustrated with images, charts, slides and videos.

It is virtually impossible to make even a partial synthesis of such a wide and varied situation. Sometimes they highlighted efforts that brought little success but they also looked to the future. The dream of Don Bosco is still alive and urging us forward.

Frequently they drew attention to the need to improve collaboration and the pooling of resources. This priority will mean “coordination and cooperation at different levels of formation”, in a strengthening of the “co-ordination between the three departments of the mission and that of formation”, and the creation of a more organized system in the department of Social Communication.

They also pointed out that some regions, particularly Africa-Madagascar, Italy and the Middle East, and Western Europe, have been involved in an extensive internal reconfiguration during the last six years, with the creation of new legal jurisdictions and the unification and consolidation of others.

There is another positive and comforting fact deserving of mention: there have been many formative and leadership interventions at different levels, as well as celebrations and specific cultural events – such as, for example, conferences and publications – that have done a lot to bring about a growth in a sense of belonging to the congregation. These include the reception of the guidelines given in GC26 and a renewed attention to educational needs in today’s world.

Another thing that is common to all the regions is the increasing number of collaborators, members of the Salesian Family and other lay people. There is also a common commitment to work for greater fruitfulness in vocations ministry and to initial and ongoing formation.

The “return to Don Bosco”, which was one of the priorities of GC26, has gained momentum especially with the pilgrimage of the relic of Don Bosco in the five continents. We can speak of charismatic revival in the congregation, as well as renewed enthusiasm for da mihi animas.

Part 2

On the morning of Wednesday 26 February time was allocated for a frank and comprehensive presentation of information from the economy sector.

The congregation as a whole is in good health. Its main resource consists of the Salesians themselves who live a modest lifestyle with daily hard work. Generally in the Provinces vigilant attention is paid to financial administration, with the help of the scrutinium paupertatis.

IB_11508__2014There is a growing conviction that good economic management needs to be underpinned by the principles of transparency, professionalism, sharing of information and co-responsibility in decision making. There is a good sense of solidarity between the provinces especially when there are unforeseen disasters of various kinds.Overall it is a complex situation that is well managed and controlled conscientiously.  The world has changed and this has consequences also for the congregation, both at the level of General Administration and in the provinces.

Time was allocated also to examine the state of religious discipline in the congregation. This concerns more than what is usually meant by discipline, which may sound rather severe. It led to a reflection on the conditions needed if we are to be faithful to our vocation and mission. In summary, we could say that religious discipline is to the charism as the body is to the soul.

The previous General Chapter called for an examination of the quality of consecrated life from the aspect of the vow of obedience, but did not exclude other aspects.It is an ongoing process that will always call for improvement. Nowadays obedience is exercised in a renewed way which includes a more sober lifestyle, greater transparency in financial matters and more careful vigilance regarding chastity.

Reflecting on religious discipline means thinking about our quality of life as a Salesian family, in times of joy and in times of suffering.In this context, the fundamental document is still the Rector Major’s letter “I am the vine, you are the branches (Jn 15 , 5a)– the vocation to remain always united to Jesus to have life”(AGC 408). In it he deals with fidelity and religious disciple which are guaranteed by our union with Christ.

First Published by InfoANS