A Publication of the Missions Sector for the Salesian Communities and Friends of the Salesian Mission
MISSIONARY CALL OF THE RECTOR MAJOR to the SALESIANS OF DON BOSCO
My dear Confrères, receive my fraternal and affectionate greetings.
As last year, on this 8th December 2017, from the house of the “Sacred Heart” in Rome where we dwell, with the Basilica before my eyes, I write this letter to you. I do it with the same intention as last year. This is a very significant day to make a missionary call “ad gentes” in all the provinces of the world and to all the confrères who feel called by the Lord to live in a special way our missionary vocation. We are all missionaries of the young. However, since the beginning of our Congregation, the Lord has certainly made many confrères feel this missionary call in a very personal and special way, so that the Gospel and the Salesian mission can reach the young where there is greater need, or where they are waiting for us or where we have not yet arrived.
During this year, the Lord granted us the grace to have back among us Fr. Tom Uzhunnalil. He, a missionary in Yemen, gave us a great testimony of profound spirituality and great missionary apostolic interiority. And this donation and sacrifice of his will undoubtedly produce much fruit.
On this day, my missionary call intends to resound also in the hearts of many confrères, in all the Provinces and Salesian presences in the world, waiting for generous responses. Don Bosco had many Salesians close to him and sent them on his first expeditions. In his name, I address a strong invitation to all those confrères who feel in their hearts this desire aroused by the Lord.
Every year, we see a beautiful response of about 20 missionaries sent all over the world. However, I am very confident that we can count on an even greater number to bring the Gos-pel and the education of children and the young to many more people and many more places.
Apostolic forces are not the same in all parts of the Congregation. There are provinces and nations with many vocations and others that are experiencing great poverty. Our fraternity and the feeling that we are all Salesians of Don Bosco in the one Congregation throughout the world, and not only for my country or my province, still allows us to reach where we are most needed.
There are still adolescents and young people waiting for us, and among them the poorest, those abandoned and most at risk. The missions of Amazonia, of the Andes of Latin America, and especially indigenous populations are waiting for us; people at the borders between coun-tries, in refugee camps as in Uganda, are waiting for us. Eastern Europe is also open to our presence. Malaysia and Gambia will shortly be spaces for our presence. From many other countries in which we are already present we are called to go to other truly missionary areas.
For all this, my dear Confrères, I strongly urge you to generosity. The generosity, first of all, of the confrères who feel this explicit call from the Lord. The generosity of the provinces, of rectors and, especially, of provincials so as not to bury any missionary demand of the confrères, especially of the young Salesians who have great ideals. We cannot forget our origins nor can we forget our charismatic identity, as our Constitutions remind us: “Peoples still awaiting the gospel message were the special object Don Bosco’s concern and apostolic effort. We look upon missionary work as an essential feature of our Congregation” (Const. 30).
I have no doubt that the Lord will bless our generosity.
I remind you the procedure to follow. When the Rector Major receives a telephone call, a letter, an email from a confrère who expresses this desire, the Dicastery for Missions begins a serene and profound discernment in dialogue with the confrère and with the Provincial, and successively informs the Rector Major of the steps taken. Many times discernment brings out the suitability of the candidate. Sometimes it does not. But this is always done in the search for the good of the person and of the mission.
This is my appeal, dear Confrères, and I invite you to pray for this all over the Congregation. There are many people who have not yet received the announcement of the Gospel. There are many young people who need a friend, brother and father who the Salesians will be, going out to meet with them. We will share life with the young, help them prepare for life and offer them “listening and accompaniment”, always seeking their good. (Strenna 2018).
May Mary, the Help of Christians, bless this generosity and may Don Bosco accompany us to be authentic missionary disciples of Jesus.
Fr Angel Fernández A. SDB
El Blessed Titus Zeman (1915-1969), martyr for vocations. He has in a certain way embodied the fundamental steps in the process of discernment. Through clandestine transport of young people abroad, he offered young people the opportunity to discover their vocation and to fulfill it. His faith, inspired by the Word of God, was the source of his choice to accompany young confreres at a time of persecution in their own country. He became their companion on their journey of welcoming with generosity the gift of a vocation as a grace of God.
So that in Asian countries, Christians, as well as other religious minorities, may live their faith with complete freedom.
Asia is a rich mosaic of cultures and religions. This plurality does not always find peaceful coexistence in tolerance and freedom in all regions. We have a precious mission – that of educating young people to respect the sacred convictions of every person and also to help young Christians to have the courage to testify to their own faith in the Lord Jesus in all serenity and firmness.
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