Don Bosco

Report on 4th General Chapter




My dearest sons in J.C.,

By the Lord's grace we have completed the 4th General Chapter as prescribed by our Constitutions. As you already know, one of the principal aims of such a gathering this year was the election of the Superior Chapter. Although you may already privately have been informed of the results of this election, it is my task as Rector Major to officially inform you as prescribed by our Deliberations (Dist. I. and. II. art. 23), so that each confrere of our Pious Society may know who to turn to in the various situations that can occur and the matters that he may need to deal with.

Here they are then in the order in which they were held : On 31 August, on the vigil of the Gen. Chapter notes on all confreres eligible were distributed, except for the case of the Rector Major and the Vicar, as also for Bishop John Cagliero, Bishop of Magida and Vicar Apostolic of Patagonia, and the Most Rev. Fr Joseph Fagnano, Prefect Apostolic of Patagonia South and Tierra del Fuego. On 1 September, after the established prayers were said seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and to the Blessed Virgin and St Francis de Sales, asking for their protection, the following day we proceeded with the elections by secret ballot. All Directors and confreres who were able to be there were present. The following were elected: as Prefect, Rev. Fr Dominic Belmonte who was Director of the House at S. Pier d'Arena; as Catechist or Spiritual Director, Rev. Fr John Bonetti, already a Councillor on the Chapter; as Economer, Rev. Fr Anthony Sala who was already holding that office, and as Councillors, Rev Frs Francis Cerruti, Celestine Durando and Joseph Lazzero, the last two named having already been elected to the Superior Chapter in earlier elections, while the first had been called by me to be part of it, as indicated in my letter of 8 December 1885. When we came to the election of the Master of Novices Rev. Fr. Giulio Barberis was re-elected, since he already held that office. Then by unanimous acclamation Bishop John Cagliero was appointed Honorary Catechist; he had effectively been Catechist up until then. Then using the authority invested in me by our holy Constitutions, with regard to distribution of offices held by members of the Superior Chapter (Chapter IX, Art. 6), I have appointed Councillor Fr Celestine Durando to help the Prefect, and confirmed as Professional Councillor and Correspondent for the Missions, Fr. Lazzero.

Today, on the Solemnity of the Presentation of Our Blessed Lady in the Temple, with all the personnel in their place, I am happy to have been able to give you the results of these elections and at the same time I invite you to give thanks to God, the Help of Christians and St Francis de Sales by saying three Our Fathers, Hail Marys and, Glory be along with the Oremus for our glorious Patron.

Now it is simply up to you to give full obedience to the new Chapter, coming as it does from the Lord through your ballots. Let your obedience be prompt, humble and joyful, as the Rule prescribes.

We look upon our Superiors as our brothers, indeed as loving fathers who only seek the glory of God, the salvation of souls, our own good and the smooth running of our Society. We see God himself represented through them, and are in the habit of seeing what they ask and do as manifestations of the divine will. If it should occasionally happen that they give an order which does not conform with what we would like, we do not thereby refuse them obedience. We realise that also for them it is difficult to give orders regarding serious and unpleasant matters, but they recognise that such orders are necessary for things to run smoothly, for the glory of God and the good of our neighbour. Let us therefore willingly sacrifice our own wants and comfort for such a noble purpose and consider that our merit before God because of our obedience will be greater, the more is the sacrifice we make in being obedient.

Let us beware, my dear sons, of falling into the serious defect of complaining, a defect which is so contrary to charity and hateful to God as well as damaging to the Community. Let us forego all grumbling about individuals, especially where our own Confreres are concerned, particularly if they are Superiors. The grumbler, as the Holy Scriptures say, sows discord, brings discontent and sadness where there was once peace, happiness and charity. So through obedience, respect and affection let us try to act in such a way that, as St Paul says, Superiors can work cum qaudio hoc faciant et non gementes (make it a joy for them and not grief. Hebr.13:17).

But obedience and charity are not the only things I want to suggest to you in this situation; there is a third thing I am very concerned about and this is a persevering observance of the vow of poverty. Let us remember, my dear sons, that the well-being of our Pious Society and the profit for our souls depends very much on this. Divine Provdence, it is true, has helped us to this point, and let us also say in an extraordinary way for all our needs. This help, we are sure, will continue into the future through the intercession of the Help of Christians who has always been our Mother. But this does not mean we should not, for our part, exercise great diligence, both in reducing expense wherever we can and in making savings on provisions, trips, buildings and in general for everything that is not necessary. Indeed I believe we have a particular duty in this before Divine Providence and our benefactors. Therefore, my dear sons, I warmly urge you to practice what has been established by our Deliberations (Dist. V) with regard to economy, especially in works and construction, provisions and trips. The Lord, you may be convinced, will not cease generously blessing our faithful and detailed observance of these three very important points: obedience, charity and poverty.

May the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ always reign in your hearts, inspire our words and inform our deeds so that we may reach and possess him in our blessed homecoming in Heaven. Meanwhile I recommend myself to your prayers and the prayers of our boys, and I for my part bless you with all the affection of my heart. I assure you that asd long as God gives me life, I am always

Yours affectionately in J.C.
Fr John Bosco

Turin, 21 November 1886.

P. S. The Directors should read this Circular at the first meeting of confreres, but regarding the points made in it about obedience, charity and poverty, during the year they should make these the topic of at least a conference each.

Meanwhile, as we ready Deliberations passed at the 3rd and 4th General Chapters for printing, I recommend that you re-read in their entirety, those passed earlier at the 2nd General Chapter.