1. In answer to the invitation extended by the General Councillor for the Missions, the General Councillor for Youth Pastoral and the Economer General, the representatives of various provinces came together at the Pisana to reflect on the role of the Planning and Development office in a juridical circumscription of the SDB. The Assembly of 155 participants included Directors and other representatives of the International Procures and Salesian NGOs, Provincial Economers, Provincial Delegates for Youth Ministry, Directors and other personnel of Development Offices, Projects Offices, Procures and similar structures.
2. The specific objectives of the seminar were:
- To create a new mentality regarding the link between human development and evangelisation, so that we can arrive at a salesian vision of integral human development;
- To promote coordination and synergy between the various organs operating in a province for youth pastoral activities, missio ad gentes, economic development and fund raising initiatives;
- To facilitate the establishment and the strengthening of the Planning and Development Office in a province, so that it can become an instrument for the overall growth and development of the activities of a province.
3. During the seminar, after taking stock of the experience gained so far in the organization and running of Development Offices we deepened our reflection on important themes connected with our charism such as
- The concept of development from the point of view of evanglization and the salesian charism;
- The need for synergy between the Planning and Development office and the Provincial Delegate with the team for Youth Ministry;
- The criteria for integrating the Planning and Development Office within the structures for the economic administration of the province.
On the practical side we discussed
- The need and the role of a Planning and Development Office in a province and viewed different models of existing Development Offices in America, Asia and Africa-Madagascar;
- How to make the organization and administration of a Development Office financially and administratively< viable.
As a possible model of networking among various organizations that have the same objectives, the recently registered Don Bosco Network also was taken into consideration.
Through discussions in groups and in the general assembly we were able to deepen the concepts and make practical proposals for the realization of a Planning and Development Office in a province.
The experience up to the present
4. We have come to realize that the concept of a Development Office has grown gradually and it is still in the process of being understood and appreacited. It all began with the efforts of individual Salesians and provincial administrations to find sources of finance for the establishment and maintenance of the various salesian works. Such activity was carried on by propaganda offices, mission offices and procures organized in different ways, but with the main aim of raising funds for salesian works. When projects for establishing works in favour of the poor and the marginalized became common, the need was felt to have structures that helped the proper elaboration of these projects. Thus project offices were born in different provinces to facilitate the writing of projects and to seek funds for their realization. These were mainly offices which offered technical assistance with little work of animation. With the option for the poor becoming an important factor in the life and activity of a province, there arose also organizations for carrying out different types of social work in favour of the poor and the marginalized. From these latter evolved the Development Offices, mainly due to the encouragement and assistance of Salesian NGOs like Dmos-Comide and Jovenes del Tercer Mundo.
5. We realize that the development offices that are operating today are very varied in their structure and activities. Some of them are well integrated in the organizational set up of a province and serves it as a whole, while others are working in different degrees of integration with the province, carrying out a host of activities for the uplift of the poor without a tangible influence on the life and activities of the province. In some provinces several different fund raising activities exist side by side without any link among themselves.
Looking to the Future
6. It is necessary and highly desirable that synergy be established among these varied activities by bring them under one common vision and mission and one common administrative set up in order to guarantee the unity of life and activity of the province as a whole. That is why we look to the future with a new vision and a new mentality regarding planning and development.
In the light of the orientations given by the congregation and the experience of these past decades we recall a few essential criteria to guide and direct us in the organization and growth of the Planning and Development Office.
7. For us Salesians evangelization and human promotion are intimately linked and inseparable realities. The two together add up to what could be called the integral development of the people for whom and with whom we work (cf. Const. 31). Consequently, for us developmental work is not mere social work. It has to have a soul, which is supplied by the active and fearless proclamation of the Gospel.
8. With the Rector Major, Fr. Pascual Chavez, we affirm that as Salesians we “believe in children, in teenagers, in young people, for they represent the most important resource of any country.” Hence we put our “money on education, as it is the most precious gift we can give them to prepare them to face the future with some guarantee of success.” Carrying out developmental actitivities from the perspective of our charism, we engage in educational activities for the benefit of the poor and the marginalized children and youth. Further, through education we seek to form young people who are committed to the cause of justice, peace and the creation of a fraternal and egalitarian society. Our education not only liberates people, but brings forth ‘liberators’ who are committed to fighting against injustice and the creation of a more human environment, a more equitable social order.
9. Our developmental activities are oriented towards animating people so that they become the chief protagonists of their own development and progress in society. We seek to set afoot a vast movement of people who conscientiously work together with us for the transformation of society, for the eradication of the causes of povety, injustice and inequality. Essentially ours is a role of ushering in new mentalities in our young people, in the poor and in society in general. Thus, even in our programmes and projects for development we remain evangelizers and educators par excellence.
10. As education and integral human formation are the main objectives of Salesian Youth Ministry, it is to be assured that structurally and operationally there is collaboration and mutual enrichment between the Planning and Development Office and the Youth Ministry organization of the province.
Ø On its part the Youth Ministry focuses on projects that favour human development giving special attention to:
o the integral nature of development, thus overcoming a purely economic view of it;
o the religious dimension of development;
o the vocation of each person, thus making people the true protagonists of development.
Ø The Planning and Development Office, on the other hand, promotes a new vision and a new model of educative-pastoral work:
o presenting it as a continuous process, gradual and unified at the same time, overcoming the tendency to sectorialism, improvisation and idealism;
o with a definite methodology that leads to strategic choices, concrete objectives that can be evaluated, and progress through interventions that converge on the common objective;
o realized by working in equipe and by networking;
o taking care of the viability and the productivity of the services and the projects.
11. As the Planning and Development Office has much to offer by way of expertise in the planning and execution of projects, it is necessary to promote a close relationship and a systematic working together between it and the Youth Ministry Organization of the province by:
o situating the plans and projects for development promoted by the Planning and Development office within the ambit of the Overall Provincial Project (OPP/POI) and the Educative Pastoral Plan (EPP/PEPS) of the province.
o Improving the EPP of the province, the local communities and the different sectors of the educative-pastoral activity with a more professional methodology like the Participative Strategic Plan, so that it may be more realistic, efficacious and viable and to guarantee the continuity of the processes and a more rational and better use of the available resources;
o Promoting a system of relationship, information, study of common problems and close coordination between the Delegate for Youth Ministry and his team and the Planning and Development Office;
o Collaborating in the formation of the directors and animators of the educative pastoral activity at the provincial as well as the local levels.
12. The Planning and Development Office is an instrument for the economic management and betterment of the province. Hence:
o There is need to strengthen in all who are involved in the animation and administration of the province a strong institutional sense, so that initiative and personal responsibility can be harmoniously combined, in the awareness that such initiative and responsibility enter essentially into the provincial project and contribute to its realization.
o Respect for roles and competence is an important premise for acquiring a synergic and coordinated vision of the many different components that make up the sometimes complicated texture of the province.
o The selection and management of projects to be financed, the seeking of funding methods and the manner in which they are used should not condition the province’s Overall Project but should rather draw from the latter the programming indications and practical indications that will combine to achieve an effective and faithful result.
o Bring about the coordination and the shared use of human and financial resources of the province and of every community to make the best use of them as well as to avoid waste.
o Ensure an efficient and transparent keeping of accounts. Efficiency is linked with the best use of available resources, while transparency refers, above all, to rigorous adherence to the purpose of the financial means we have available or can dispose of.
13. All this requires a very close link and interaction between the Planning and Development Office and the Provincial Economer and his department. As the Economer has an institutional role assigned to him by our constitutions, it is he who confers on the Development Office, as also on all the other departments that have anything to do with the Economic management of the province, its institutional character. Hence the need for coordination, for centralization, for synergic fusion with the economer’s office which is directly responsible to the government of the province.
Understanding the Role and functions of a Planning and Development Office
14 We could understand a Planning and Development Office as an organization instituted by the Provincial and his Council to bring about in the province as a whole and in the various communities of the province a planned approach to the overall growth of the salesian presences in the province, from the point of view of social and economic development, particularly in the field of youth ministry. It carries out its functions in understanding and collaboration with the Provincial Economer and the Delegate for Youth Ministry, and with the other organs of animation in the province for projects that are of interest to them.
15. Among the many possible functions of a Planning and Development office we could highlight the following:
1. It assists the Provincial and his Council to have a planned approach to human and socio-economic development in the whole province, playing a significant role in the preparation of the OPP and the EPP and their implementation. It acts as a think tank and, in understanding with the Youth Ministry Team and the local communities, presents to the province comprehensive programmes of development for the various regions of the province, indicating micro/macro projects that are necessary to realize them, ensuring that they are in harmony with the OPP and the EPP.
2. It helps the Province and the houses to write out the projects that are meant to actualize the development plan of the province and after due approbation presents them to funding agencies, preferably through the Salesian NGO’s. In this sense, what was traditionally known as “project office” becomes one of the activities of the Development office.
3. When called upon, it studies and verifies the plans of the province for opening new salesian presences, furnishing reports on the feasibility and sustainability of such presences, in order to guide the decision making process of the Provincial and his Council.
4. It sensitises the province to the urgency of working for social justice and takes initiatives in the field of advocacy and lobbying on behalf of the poor and the marginalized, especially children and youth.
5. Working in close collaboration with the Youth Ministry Team, it brings about synergy in similar activities of a socio-economic nature in different institutions/houses within a province and facilitates the networking among these for the achievement of common goals.
6. It engages in fund raising activities for carrying out the projects of the province. In particular it occupies itself with the ongoing economic viability of the projects already initiated. In this sense, what was known as the “propaganda office” or “procure”, becomes an important department of the Planning and Development office.
7. It attends to the training and the ongoing formation the personnel, both salesian and lay, necessary for carrying out the developmental projects, giving special attention to capacity building. It takes care that the true protagonists of development are the people themselves.
8. It furnishes information regarding socio-economic issues to the Provincial and his Council and to whoever is involved in developmental projects. For this purpose it carries out research and documentation and develops expertise in these fields.
9. It facilitates and promotes various forms of networking within the houses of a province, thus bringing about the sense of solidarity and mutual support. Where and when possible, it liaises and networks with other (non salesian) organizations in the socio-economic sector in order to create local networks that further strengthen its activities (e.g.: collaborations with the educational sector for educational projects, with the economic sector for employment schemes, with the social sector for social schemes...).
In brief, the Planning and Development Office is the point of reference in the Province for synergy, cooperation and coordination, so that its OPP and EPP can be realized and the harmonious and dynamic growth of its various activies can be ensured.
16. We would wish that every province—those in countries still considered to be developing as well as in those spoken of as developed nations—have such a Planning and Development Office to promote synergy and to provide expertise and professional help in planning and projecting in the various fields of its activity.
Rome, 02 April 2005