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Ivo Coelho, SDB
Consigliere Generale per la Formazione – firstname.lastname@example.org
Rome, 7 October 2017
Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary
THE STUDY OF SALESIAN PERSONAL ACCOMPANIMENT: A THANK YOU!
My dear provincials, provincial formation delegates, directors of formation communities, prenovices, novices and confreres in various phases of initial formation, confreres who offer the service of accompaniment, confreres and friends who have accompanied us in prayer, and most especially all you confreres who have generously given of your time and energy for the tabulation of the 4000 responses to the questionnaire on Salesian personal accompaniment (APS): a warm greeting from Sacro Cuore, Rome.
I write to you a few days after the 2 nd Seminar on APS held at Genzano from 29 September to 1 October 2017, by the departments of Youth Ministry and Formation, to say thank you and to bring you up to date on what has been happening so far.
The Genzano seminar was a gathering of 33 confreres from the seven Salesian regions of the world, and it was an experience of LISTENING that was unprecedented for the quantity and quality of data received from such a large number of Salesians on a theme of vital importance for the Congregation and for its future. It is wonderful to be able to say that every one of our provinces and vice provinces sent in their responses – and these responses include 521 prenovices (87% of the total number on 31 December 2016), 399 novices (92%), 903 postnovices (93%), 554 practical trainees (78%), 701 aspirants to the priesthood in specific formation (87%), 54 Salesian Brothers in specific formation (79%), 396 confreres in the quinquennium (41%), and 538 spiritual guides.
The questionnaire had between 26 and 45 questions according to the various phases, in 6 of the languages spoken in the Congregation. The tabulation of the responses called for much hard work – an average of 23 minutes per questionnaire. We were able to finish this work between May and August 2017 thanks to 224 Salesian volunteers (more than 1500 hours of online work in different countries) who entered the data into a common server monitored by our confrere Bro. Marco Bay of the Centro Ricerche Elaborazione Dati ,UPS.
The result of all this was more than 5000 pages of tables, graphics, open responses and classificatory trees.
The only aim of the Genzano seminar – for which each of the participants came prepared with a serious and taxing homework – was to LISTEN to the great number of those who responded, trying to grasp what they were saying on the topic of personal accompaniment.
It was an experience that was as interesting and enriching as it was demanding, and we were able to
see how young and energetic our Congregation is. We also realized how different it is: the rich
diversity of viewpoints and situations of our seven regions demands to be discovered and responded 2
The journey is far from over. The solid basis given us by our little exercise of listening opens up to the need for a further, deeper and more scientific listening with the help of experts.
Further, in 2018 we will have the possibility, especially during the meetings of the Regional Formation Commissions, to study the data received for each region, in another exercise of listening and interpretation that will give solidity and depth to our work of formation.
The Rector Major’s Strenna for 2018 on spiritual accompaniment makes our work extremely timely, and the forthcoming Synod on youth, faith and vocational discernment makes it relevant not only for our Congregation but also for the worldwide Church.
At this point, and in the name of the departments of Youth Ministry and Formation, I would like to say a GREAT BIG THANK YOU to each and every one of you. Without an extraordinary exercise of teamwork in which you have been involved, it would have been impossible to reach where we have reached. And I am sure that each one of you will know that at the heart of this work there has always been the extraordinary and gentle presence of Silvio Roggia, who I want to thank in the name of all of us! And along with Silvio, we have to thank Bro. Marco Bay for his wonderful commitment and availability. Without his expertise, surely we would never have been able to do what we have been able to do.
But the work is far from over, as I have said, so I entrust the steps that follow to your prayer. The only aim of all this work is to help one another to respond better to the Salesian vocation that unites us, and which is the most beautiful gift that we can offer to young people.
I wish you a happy feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, a day we contemplate Mary who accompanies and is accompanied by the mysteries of the life of her Son. May she, mother and teacher of Don Bosco, accompany us in our desire to make of Salesian personal accompaniment a truly fruitful means of helping us grow in the Salesian vocation and mission raised up in the church through her maternal intercession.
Affectionately in Don Bosco,
Ivo Coelho, SDB