Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
You were Don Bosco’s constant guide and support in his work; We believe that you are present among us continuing your mission as “Mother of the Church and Help of Christian.”
Life is fragile and precious and death makes us aware of this. Death is like a wind that comes and ‘catches you off guard and blows your heart open’ (Seamus Heaney). For those whose hearts grieve this winter, we ask for God’s healing love and blessing upon them. We remember with affection, and in prayer, those who have recently departed from us: Fr George Gallagher SDB (South Africa) Lansdowne, Cillian Ó Corrbuí (Vancouver), Sr Ita Madigan FMA (Caherdavin), Brian O’Malley (Maynooth), Margaret Casey [née Dowling] (Walkinstown), Jimmy Fogarty (Crumlin), Desmond O’Reilly (Dublin), Fr Jeremiah Breen SDB (Australia), Peggy Harrington (Castletownbere), Bernard Fitzpatrick (Stradbally), Philomena Howe (Celbridge); Fr Charlie Said’s nephew, Matthew Medati (Malta), John Azzopardi (Malta). We remember all those Salesians, family members and friends who compose the Salesian Family and who have gone before us. We entrust them into God’s merciful care praying that in their onward journey they may receive the fulfilment of the Lord’s promise: “I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one shall take from you” (Jn. 16:22).
The ongoing discernment of the configuration of our province begins a new phase with a scheduled meeting in Rome (11-12-17) between some members from the Provincial Council and Maltese Delegation Council, facilitated by the Rector Major and his Council. As the Rector Major shared with us in Malta “the present issues at stake between Malta and Ireland is not a problem, but a journey we all need to embark upon… we need to begin a journey of dialogue and sharing between both Malta and Ireland” (10-09-17). We appeal to all the members of the Salesian family, and those interested in the good of young people, to pray earnestly for this discernment process so that our ultimate decision may be in the best interests of the young people on both our islands. “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, nevertheless, it is the LORD’S counsel that will stand” (Prv. 21:19). May God’s will be done.
Upcoming events/dates for diary
The Strenna1 for the coming year is: “Sir, give me this water” (Jn 4:15) LET US CULTIVATE THE ART OF LISTENING AND OF ACCOMPANIMENT. To jump-start this theme in the New Year we have scheduled a symposium on Spiritual Direction and Accompaniment of Young People by Fr Louis Grech SDB (20-21/01/18). The Seminar on 20th January is open to SDB’s, FMA’s, members of the Salesian Family and those interested in accompanying young people on the journey of discerning their baptismal call as followers of Christ. It will take place in the De La Salle Pastoral Centre (Castletown). The second day will be a more focused group.
The annual Divine Mercy Conference occurs 16-18th Feb 2018. This year the Friday night (16-02-18) will be dedicated to young adults (aged 18-35). [venue to be confirmed]. The gathering will include a social, music, testimony, keynote address by Ralph Martin, and conclude with a reconciliation-healing service. Spread the word.
Fatherhood of God and Don Bosco (3)
“Why do we have to call you Father, can we not call you dad?” When the fourteen year old girl had blurted out these words, some of those standing around laughed. However, it started a trend, and some of the young people began to call me dad, much to the amusement of others. On another occasion, a student said, “You’re nice; you’re just like my grandfather!” In many ways, it reminded me of my experience in Ethiopia where a priest is simply known as ‘abba.’ Within this cultural perspective not only is the connection to God as Father (abba) self-evident, but it is a constant reminder of our call as Salesians to be ‘Father.’ As each of us have professed, our ‘love is that of a father, brother and friend, able to draw out friendship in return; this is the loving-kindness so much recommended by Don Bosco.’ (Const. 15)
As I reflected on, and prayed about these experiences, it became crystal clear to me that young people’s experience of fatherhood is one of the areas of greatest wounded-ness in our world today. From my lived experience among young people those who are the serial offenders in school most often suffer from a father-wound. This becomes evident as we listen to them tell their story. Either their father is physically absent, emotionally absent, aggressive or simply not available. This is one reason why our Salesian charism is alive, active and relevant. Our raison d’être is to be at the service of the young. Without young people, our charism doesn’t make sense. It is the young who evoke from within us this call to serve them in their need and they confirm us in our vocation. They call from their wounded-ness and challenge us to respond. Each one of us needs to reflect personally on the following:
How do I reflect the fatherhood of God to the Young?
Fr Eunan McDonnell SDB
¹ The origin of the Strenna comes from the tradition of ancient Rome which involved the exchange of gifts of good wishes. From a Salesian perspective it is gift from the Rector Major (successor of Don Bosco) to help us focus as a worldwide congregation on a chosen theme.