After long preparation, including discussion in local communities, members of the Irish Province gathered with other representatives of the Salesian Family for the Provincial Chapter. The event was held in Limerick 1-11 June 2019. Every day had its own topic, which was considered during times of private reflection, in work groups and in open forum. In a changing Irish society, we want to face the new challenges and find new ways to educate and evangelise according to our charism. Only official members of the chapter participated in the voting but discussion was open to all the confreres, Salesian Cooperators, members of Salesian School staff and everybody associated with the Salesian Family. When the Rector Major, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, visited the Irish Province in February, he said: ‘I will not let the charism die’. The presence of the young missionaries who have come to Ireland as part of Project Europe shows that these words are being treated seriously.
The Chapter Experience
By Ellie O’Dwyer
‘Tradition does not consist in adoring dead ashes, but in keeping the fire alive.’
Earlier in June I had the privilege and opportunity to attend the Provincial Chapter for the Salesians in Ireland. It took place from the 1st to the 11th of June, in Milford, Limerick.
The Provincial Council In preparing for this had extended an invitation to anyone who was interested in or is currently working in any capacity with the Order.
Since I first met the Salesians nearly 32 years ago, I have been taken with their ethos and have remained a friend of Don Bosco, but over the years my appreciation has deepened. Together with two other lay people I am in the process of formation to become a Salesian Cooperator. We are hoping to make a public promise on the 8th December at the celebration marking the end of 100 years of Salesian presence in Ireland. The concept of lay people called Cooperaters living as good Christians and honest citizens was in the mind of Don Bosco when he gathered young men into a process of formation leading to the birth of the Order, as priests and brothers living out the legacy of his charism. This recognition that working collaboratively with lay people is necessary and life-giving in 2019 did not originate as a compensatory mechanism for decreasing numbers of confreres, but as a response to the role and responsibility of all members of the Salesian Family and the wider Church.
Opening themselves up to the presence of lay people at the ‘coal face’ so to speak showed transparency in their mission and an opportunity to make visible their level of commitment to young people.
I am actively involved in my parish at different levels and having observed the Salesian innate sense of good for young people from all their diverse interactions with young people and community life, I see an opening in all walks of life for them to share their ethos with lay people to work together for the good of the young, following a process of formation. At the Chapter, various themes were considered such as the importance of Interior life for Ministry and the Sharing of the Salesian Mission. These had already been considered at local community level and were there to be formulated in the future programme for the Province, but I was drawn to them in particular as a starting point for possible dialogue between the Order and the laity to develop a plan for future cooperation.