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Project for europe - North Europe, West Europe, Italy MOR regions



Project For Europe - North Europe REGION

Report of the Regional Fr Marek Chrzan
Rome, 27 November 2010


Since I am the new Regional Councillor, this presentation is the result of a compilation of the reports sent in by the Provincials of all the Provinces in the Region. It must be said that the great majority of them have provided very valuable material as regards the content.
My first acquaintance with the North Europe Region confirms the belief that it is very difficult to speak about a single  sense of the Region, because 15 Provinces and 3 Delegations make up a very diversified body, also with regard to the understanding and the carrying out of the  PE. We have Provinces which feel the need for the PE, others which ask themselves how they can take part in the PE helping Salesians in other parts of Europe, and finally there are Provinces which ask the question to what extent they form part of the PE, as for example the countries of the EST Special Circumscription. Therefore my report will have various different nuances  while always  remaining with this awareness of considerable differences.

    • Communication of the Project for Europe in the Provinces

Generally speaking the PE was communicated in all the Provinces immediately after the GC26 and a second time after the meeting of the European Provincials two years ago. The Provincials did so personally and through circular letters. The Letter of the Rector Major about the PE was translated into various languages and communicated to the confreres. The subject of the PE was dealt with in several meetings of confreres (rectors, parish clergy, those doing the quinquennium, young confreres). In some Provinces the subject of the PE was dealt with during the community quarterly days of recollection  or during the Provincial’s visits. Among the young confreres in formation there have been special meetings for its presentation and for discussion. Visits by the General Councillors, by the Regional and by the Councillor for the Missions, were occasions for particular animation of the l PE. The Salesian Bulletins and Province web pages have also spoken about  the PE.
During Provincial Chapters  the subject of the PE featured, some Provinces put their proposals regarding the PE in the Province in the post-chapter documents. In some Provinces more directly interested in it the PE was a topic of study during several meetings of the Provincial Council.
Generally speaking there is a lot of interest but also underneath there are some perplexities. The subject of revitalisation is not easy to understand, and a certain comparison with “Project Africa” has  created expectations not realised of the arrival of many missionaries in Europe. The main lines of the Project have been clarified but there is still a noticeable inability to understand the complexity of the Project. Many are waiting for more precise and concrete information about the steps to be taken.
In spite of the various ways of communication, the PE is still little known overall and questions are often asked about it. This shows a general interest in the PE on the part of many confreres.

    • Acceptance of the Project for Europe in the Provinces

Generally speaking the PE has been accepted in all the Provinces though with different degrees of interest. The Provinces in the Atlantic – German zone and the Province of Hungary, feel a particular need for help  and link their hopes for the future with the Project, showing the highest level of appreciation in welcoming it. The averages in the replies in this zone are given below:
• Provincial Council and Rectors         (4,5)
• Confreres in initial formation            (4,5) – where there are any
• Confreres in the communities            (4)
• Lay co-workers and the young          (4)
            In the Provinces of Poland and of CIMEK the acceptance is seen especially at the level of the Rectors and of the Provincial Council. Vey well received, also by the young confreres in formation, whereas the welcome from the communities is very weak, often not being particularly interested in it. The Lay people and the young are sometimes not interested or see as something far removed from them. The averages of the replies in this zone are as follows:
• Provincial Council and Rectors         (4)
• Confreres in initial formation             (4,5)
• Confreres in the communities            (2)
• Lay co-workers and the young          (1) 

    • Principle reasons for interest and the difficulties in the Provinces

The principle reasons and the difficulties divide the Provinces into two groups, as in the previous presentations. The Provinces  in the Atlantic - German zone and Hungary, list the following points.
As the principle reasons for interest they mention the awareness that they are not being left alone in carrying forward the  charism of Don Bosco but the whole Congregation is taking care of the Salesian charism in Europe. This leads to a greater opening up of the Province to the wider Congregation.
The lack of Salesian personnel and the need for fresh energies in our mission leads to seeing in the PE the possibility of reflecting on the new presence of young confreres from different countries  (India, Poland, Cameroon, Vietnam and others …), this makes hope grow and makes them more ready to welcome other confreres. Many confreres hope that these young and strong foreign confreres, when they arrive, with their Salesian, pedagogical and religious enthusiasm may be able to contribute to supporting and animating the existing works.
Some Provinces, for example the Delegation of Malta, see the PE as a stimulus to make Salesian European identity our own. This project, enables different communities and Provinces to feel part of something greater and more complex than themselves. Above all the young confreres in  initial formation are open to the idea of Europe, and have a strong sense of belonging to the European continent as such, which makes them enthusiastic about the PE.
Among the reasons for interest are also the possibility of exchanging ideas about the PE, which increases awareness. A sharing of experiences and of projects of education and formation and of some sporting initiatives are also judged favourably, but also noted in the inability to work together in net-works, to share together fraternal occasion which could help the PE to develop. The need is noted to strengthen the network of collaboration among the Provinces and the inter-Province commissions, but so far there is no concrete vision of the PE. Without a practical project it is not possible to motivate the confreres and the lay people for the PE.
As difficulties these Provinces list: problems of the inculturation of the young missionaries, difficulties in teaching and learning the languages, also the bureaucratic difficulties of obtaining a visa. The greatest challenge is getting the confreres from outside properly integrated.
Many confreres note the lack of clarity in the PE as such; there is sometimes the impression that the proposals coming from the  Centre of the Congregation only speak about missionaries who offer themselves for the PE. A certain number of confreres have serious reservations about missionaries coming.  There is a certain scepticism about them ever succeeding in adapting to the secular culture of the young  and the belief that only with great difficulty will they be able to accompany them in their search within this  culture. Then there is perplexity about the possibility of accompanying these young Salesians in some youth service on the part of the other confreres, precisely because of the lack of personnel. There is no involvement by the Provinces which accept the missionaries in their selection and in the adequate assistance with their integration. The little previous knowledge about them does not allow for the planning of their suitable placement and integration in the Province.
The other Provinces in the Region which do not feel the need for help as such  present various reasons for their interest. Among the more frequent are:

  • A feeling of co-responsibility for Europe, being part of it and wanting to respond to the call of the Rector Major and to the directives of the GC26.
  • The possibility of the development and the strengthening of a world-wide ecclesial sense of awareness – and on the  Congregation
  • Knowledge of various youth  activities in different countries with mutual enrichment,
  • a “soft” form of the missionary vocation (not too far for a short time) with a certain danger of a hidden escape for various reasons (I am not happy in my own Province so I will go somewhere else for a short time’)
  • possibility of better formation both initial and ongoing with the very enriching international dimension.

The list of the difficulties is as follows:

  •  little knowledge of the purpose of the PE. The confreres don’t understand it very well: what it consists of, its strategies are nor clear to them, they don’t always get news about the PE. All the  problems of western Europe have not yet arrived in other Provinces and often seem far away. Since Europe cannot be considered something homogeneous, but rather a collection of countries often not compatible. In thinking about  the evangelisation of Europe it would be useful to think more in “local” than in “general” terms; not making huge projects but concentrating more on smaller and vital works which radiate strength and energy.
  • The language barrier. The majority of the confreres studied in the totalitarian period without the motivation or possibility of studying European languages.
  • A fear of inculturation. Differences in mentality and culture found in forms of  pastoral work lead to the fear of not being able to accept the differences and not being accepted by others. Then a fear of getting lost in a situation where it is impossible to evangelise (Go and lose myself in a sea of secularisation? Go to are-animate a corpse?) and  consequently doing like the others and providing simply a good  education without reference to God.
  • Problems of personnel in their own Province, an insufficient number of confreres for their own works, or  else the inability to re-organise certain works making room for greater  responsibility for the lay people, making available Salesians who are willing to offer themselves for the PE. 
    • The main strategies and activities of the Provinces to implement the PE in 2009-2010

Much has been said about the expectation and the difficulties connected with the PE, as regards the  strategies and the activities in recent years here are some of them.
here are some Provinces which have drawn up their own practical proposals for the PE such as GBR, BEN, IRL, GER and they have welcomed the first missionaries. Their commitment is linked to the integration of these confreres and their preparation for the mission to youth. It is hoped that the foreign confreres through their participation in the days of recollection , in the retreat and visits to some local Salesian communities, participation in the meetings and days of formation organised for the confreres in initial formation or in ongoing formation will be able to get used to things and become better integrated in the circumstances of their new Provinces. The Provinces have also organised occasions of formation for the confreres to be more familiar with the  PE and to welcome the confreres and the projects of the PE.
Some Provinces, especially GER, have worked hard to take good advantage of international collaboration in the area of the formation of lay people and youth work by means of various Salesian and youth organisations such as Don-Bosco-Youth-Net, Don-Bosco-Network, the centre at Benediktbeuern. Especially with BEN and AUS.
There are Provinces such as CRO, SLO, SLK, CEP which have  missionary presences in other European countries: Bulgaria, Serbia, Monte Negro, Kosovo, and they are trying to develop and to strengthen these presences. One can also see some kind of collaboration in the field of work with the Gypsies which is taking place in various places in these Provinces and also in UNG.
The Polish Provinces, but not only those also  SLK and CRO, are collaborating with their personnel in Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Lithuania, and other countries of EST.
Some  young confreres are still being sent for their practical training in various European countries, these then consider the possibility of working in the future in Provinces they have got to know.
Efforts have been made to encourage and benefit from participation in and the organisation of various international meetings and exchanges both between young confreres e.g. meetings of the novitiates, but also of young  people such as e.g.. Meetings of Leaders and Volunteers.
Centres of initial formation have been re-organised, uniting the formation houses in Poland and making use of the international formation houses in Italy, especially the Provinces of SLK, CRO, SLO, Ukraine. All the Provinces of the Region take advantage of the specific formation of the Brothers in Turin. All of these things contribute to the international atmosphere of the PE.
The study of foreign languages is also encouraged, fostered and made possible especially for the younger confreres also their taking part in courses abroad.
In the Provinces coordinators for the PE have been appointed. The Provinces of  Poland and the south of the Region in general have given the  “green light” and support for activities linked to the PE but they are waiting for concrete proposals in order to clarify ways of taking part in the Project.

    • Main procedures and activities to be undertaken in the Provinces in the two year period 2011-2012

Various Provinces have already planned some  precise action regarding the PE, while others are open to the possibilities they are examining. Trying to summarise, the following list can be presented for courses of action in the  various Provinces:
Atlantic - German Zone: (AUS, BEN-Olanda, GBR, IRL-Malta, GER,)
As regards the missionaries it is proposed:
- better organisation of their formation and integration,
- finding a forum of communication in which the young missionaries can be actively involved
- there is need for improvement in awareness of their capabilities,
- to safeguard the charism of Don Bosco care needs to be given so that there is excellent accompaniment of the new missionaries (Delegation of Holland),
- taking care of the integration of the new confreres in the local and Provincial  communities,
It other proposals it is hoped:
- to strengthen the evangelisation – involving lay people more in the Salesian educative plan (North Belgium)
- continue to implement Salesian integration between North Belgium and the Delegation of Holland, - Germany is  preparing an international youth meeting in Bonn, some formation for young people from the Salesian houses in Europe at Benediktbeuern and want s to get the best out of meetings for Salesian Leaders.
- Ireland has identified and is working on two areas  for a new effort in Limerick and Dublin with regard to the spirituality of  young adults and the care of young who are on the fringes.
- Malta will study the possibility of offering further ongoing formation for confreres in other European countries,
- Malta wants to create a new presence as  an English language  centre of Salesian spirituality especially for European confreres.
- Malta also wants to offer those on practical training the possibility of  a strongly Salesian experience with full integration in the youth scene and the possibility of learning English.

The Zone of the Provinces of Poland and the EST (PLN, PLN, PLO, PLS, EST-Ukraine)
It is proposed:
- to continue information about and the distribution of the documents of the PE
- to continue the summer experience of those on practical training of the young confreres from the Provinces of Europe,
- the study of languages,
- participation in the international meetings  of young Salesians,
- the continuation of the presences of confreres in Germany, Sweden and at the UPS in Rome,
- the study of the situation of some works; the probable closure of some, the least significant, strengthening the more significant ones,
- the  twinning of Salesian works from various European countries– so as to make the PE better known
- in the area of Voluntary Service o – welcoming European volunteers to Poland and the presence of Polish volunteers in Europe
- to  present a clear formulation of the executive objectives of the PE,
- to create greater possibilities for the confreres for better knowledge of each other – some proposals e.g. a year’s stay in another Province, the so-called “sabbatical year”. This could help in getting to know each other better and also the style of work, leading to greater international solidarity and  make real appreciation and exchange of ideas grow
CIMEK Zone – Provinces in the south of the Region, (CEP, CRO, SLK, SLO, UNG)
These Provinces present the following as steps in the process:
- Czech Rep. After the fall of the totalitarian regime these confreres are living through a process of re-vitalisation and renewal of the  Salesian communities and work. It is  necessary to continue with the works which have a European significance: activities for young gypsies, the formation of volunteers, sending and welcoming volunteers in Europe, but also outside Europe,
- Czech Rep. in collaboration with Benediktbeuern continue with the  „Orientierunstage“ project for schools, missions in Bulgaria,
- Czech Rep. Incollaboration with the SLK Province taking part in many pastoral and formative projects.
- For the confreres in initial formation from the Czech Rep. – give them the possibility of studying and communicating with Salesian Europe involved in the project of initial formation,
- Slovakia will try to inform the confreres, the young people and the lay people better about the PE, helping them know better the work of the commission for the PE and foster the interest of everyone in the problems facing Europe;
- Slovakia plans in initial and ongoing formation to seriously face up to the problems of modern day European culture with its influence on the youth scene and on Salesian life seeking solutions for the problems.
- Slovenia at the Provincial Chapter decided to make the confreres more aware about vocational ministry, asking each Salesian community to choose a confrere as animator; a group was appointed to help the Delegate for vocation ministry to take the initiative and to assess the results.  
- In Slovenia it was decided to join some communities together and so strengthen parish pastoral work around the more effectively significant parishes
- In Slovenia there is a plan to develop the centre of formation DUO (centre of domestic arts and crafts at Veržej) in the region least developed; it would be an international European project with Hungary (a similar  centre already exists in Monte Negro).
- Hungary wants to do more for the evangelisation of the Rom/Gypsies.
- A second proposal in Hungary is to be seriously committed to  “cultivating” local vocations and to look for new missionaries for the new  evangelisation of Hungary.


2.1. Steps completed or begun in the Region in 2009-2010
In recent years, the Regional holding various meetings and making visits in the Region always dealt with the PE trying to explain it and make the confreres and other groups more aware of it. The visits of the General Councillors for the Missions, for Social Communications and for Formation have already included a special emphasis on awareness about the PE.
In the Region there have   been meetings of Delegates for Youth Ministry, for Social Communication and for Formation which have contributed to the development of the  PE and thinking about it together.
The meeting in July 2010 of the Commission for the Project for Europe in Poland at Czestochowa was an occasion for promoting awareness of the Project among confreres, the novices and also lay people.
The meeting of the Provincials  in May 2010 at Vienna was totally dedicated to the PE. The discussion gave an opportunity to exchange ideas and opinions and to identify difficulties. Some projects already presented to the Rector Major were offered as examples. After the meeting an attempt was made to draw up a scheme of the various  activities in progress in connection with the PE.
The Provinces, in the Provincial Councils, reflected on the PE, carrying out an assessment of the last two years and producing a written report.

2.2. Difficulties encountered in the Region in 2009-2010
The major difficulty comes from the diversity of the Provinces and from the cultures within the Region. This does not allow there to be a common way of thinking about the PE.
            The diversity of languages is also an obstacle to precise communication about the contents of the PE. Not all the Provinces have shown interest in being involved and reflecting on the PE.
            It needs to be noted that Europe is very diversified and it is difficult to speak about a single PE. There are countries which are in Europe, geographically speaking,  but which are not taken into consideration within the PE e.g.. Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria etc. In these places it is difficult to speak about the PE as such,  as having missionary needs of different kinds.
            Confreres who have been moved within the Region from one Province to another, which are part of the PE do not feel themselves as being missionaries of the PE but rather they see it as a temporary commitment to providing held; perhaps there is need to change the names.
2.3. Procedures or activities in prospect for the Region for 2011-2012
My short experience certainly convinces me that there is a need to develop collaboration within the Region in the area of the PE.

  • To foster collaboration in various programmes e.g.  the. Formation of lay collaborators.
  • Benefit and take full advantage from the various youth meetings of volunteers, leaders, so that the young people can educate and evangelise their peers with their good example,
  • Organise meetings of young  confreres in initial formation so that they grow in a European mentality  an in mutual enrichment.
  • Helping with collaboration among Salesian schools, creating twinning arrangements.
  • Encourage collaboration among Provinces in practical projects of the exchange of personnel.



Incontro Ispettori di Europa

José Miguel Núñez
Roma, 26-28 novembre 2010



      To communicate to the confreres the Project Europe the provinces have worked out several strategies:


  • It has been reflected at long in the provincial councils.
  • The project has been presented to the rectors and to the communities in the specific moments of meeting and of work.
  • It has been the subject of reflection in the letters by the provincials to the confreres.
  • The project Europe has been studied in the Provincial Chapters.
  • There are benefits from the interventions of the Rector Major in his visits to the provinces.
  • Provinces have accepted the message of the Regional during the extraordinary visitation.
  • The Project Europe is presented to the lay people with responsibility in the institution and to the Salesian family.


  • Provincial councils and rectors          4
  • Confreres in the initial formation      4
  • Confreres in the community              3
  • Laity                                                  3

The principal reasons of interests
The PE is a reason for hope among the confreres because:

  • It will help to revitalize the Charism and renew the Salesian consecrated life.
  • It will help us to rethink the Salesian presence and mission and the internal restructuring of the provinces
  • It will help us to react to the social reality of unbelief and to undertake to do more in evangelization.
  • It will allow us to have contact with other cultures within the contexts of globalization.

The difficulties

  • It is perceived by many confreres as something undefined, which does not affect the daily lives and doesn’t actualize (especially the first area).
  • In Spain, at this moment, it is identified mainly with the process of restructuring and the revitalization endogenous remains more hidden because it is more difficult to realize.
  • In the third area: the inculturation of the missionaries, the difficulty in learning the language and the lack of appreciation of the confreres from abroad in relation to their previous activities in their countries of origin. 

First area: revitalization endogenous

  • A major effort to sensitize and the reception of the PE.
  • The Provincial Chapters 2010 gave guidelines for the necessary change in the first nucleus of the PE.
  • Strategies of formation for the revitalization endogenous: retreats, annual retreats, themes of formation for the community ...
  • Welcoming the suggestions of the Rector Major during the extraordinary visits that invite to the renewal of the Salesian religious life.

Second area: restructuring

  • Process of  internal restructuring in all the provinces with plans of action, navigation charts, analysis of the reality, perspectives ...
  • Growth of the mobility of the confreres to favour the renewal of communities.
  • Reflection, awareness and involvement (consult) of the confreres in the process of restructuring of the provinces.

Third area: Europe, land of missions

  •  Deepening of the evangelization dimension of our mission as a priority in our youth ministry: first announcement, urgency, methodology ...
  • Reception, training and accompanying of Vietnamese confreres.

First area: revitalization endogenous

  • Continue with the process of renewal of consecrated life in our communities.
  • Strengthen the plans for the on-going formations of the confreres and of accompaniment of the rectors.
  • Enhance the vocational animation according to the stabilized plan in the Iberian seminar of pastroal vocation in February 2009.

Second area: restructuring

  • To set up the restructuring of the provinces of Spain for the next three years.
  • Continue with the process of internal restructuring of the individual provinces and with reflection on new presences.
  • Continue the discernment and verification of houses of formation in the region.

Third area: Europe, land of missions

  • Continue the reflection on the new evangelization in the region and the evangelization dimension youth ministry. As a result, give a decisive boost to vocation promotion.
  • Initiate the discussion on new major projects and the possibility of continuing with the welcoming of the missionaries.
  • Continue with the accompaniment of young Vietnamese confreres of France and their progressive integration into the province verifying their journey over the past years.


2.1.  Phases completed in the Region in 2009-2010

  • Work in the Provincial Conference of the REO: During the annual meeting in the month of March, the Provincial Conference of the REO has worked specifically on the theme of the Project Europe and its implications for our region. In France and in South Belgium is in the process of consolidation of internal and external restructuring (first and second nuclei) and is having an experience in welcoming the first missionaries (third group).
  • Revitalization of endogenous Charism 

1.1.6. The West Europe Region has began in Spain, through the National Center for Youth Ministry, an important reflection on the theme of evangelization and the first announcement in the context of our complex secularized society. As a result of a workshop with all the delegates of Youth Pastoral of the provinces and some members of their equip, with further reflection of their National Center for Youth Pastoral, has already prepared a working paper on the subject.

1.2.1. The West Europe Region held a spiritual retreat with the RM in Lisbon. It was attended by the Provincial Councils of each Province and some rectors. It has certainly been a significant role of spirituality and education, focused on the moment in which we live and the challenges of the CG 26. The Regional Councillor has organised until now seven courses of spiritual retreats for the salesians of various provinces with the theme of CG 26. Three of these retreats have been offered to post novitiate, practical trainees and students of theology in the region.

1.2.3. We have already held meetings in the region with the objectives, content and appropriate methodologies. The meeting with the young confreres was held at Loyola (Guipuzkoa) on 13-15 August 2010. The meeting with the directors of the Region was held in Sanlucar la Mayor (Sevilla) on days 9 to 12 October 2010. It is expected in the coming month of December (6-8/12/2010) in Godelleta (Valencia), a prayer meeting and sharing in the light of the Word for the Salesians who wish, in order to initiate a process of spiritual renewal personal and communal.

  • Re-collocation and reorganization of the presences

2.2.1. The process of re-collocation and reorganizing of the presences in the Iberian Peninsula is now up and running. Since November 2008 we are working and thinking together to bring forward a new salesian map of Spain. Interprovincial commission has been conducting the work. Provincial councils were involved and more recently directors and the confreres. The reflection that is carried out emphasizes particularly the need to not lose sight of the whole European project and particularly the first area that recalls the endogenous revitalization. We know that the restructuring of the provinces will not be enough in itself for the renewal that is asked of by CG 26. For this reason we chose to focus on a more fundamental restructuring, which takes into account the processes of personal and community renewal from the point of view of religious life and charismatic. While pursuing this process, each single province is engaged in internal restructuring taking into account the criteria of significance of CG 25 and those that of the RM and his council will propose to the provinces.

2.2.2. The West European Region will work with the Iberian Conference in March 2011 on certain projects to assess how collaborative projects to be proposed to the RMI for a possible dispatch of personnel.


  • How to convey with conviction the Project Europe to some confreres with certain scepticism about it.
  • Instilling hope in the face of the difficult situation of the region with regard to the growth of vocations and the too high average age of the provinces.
  • Overcoming the resistance to the need for change and renewal of our personal and community life.

  • Raise awareness among confreres and communities: it is a path we must continue to pursue. It is made present in all the provinces and has been worked in the community meetings, good nights, meetings of directors... It is necessary to continue with this programme "positive" of the project, reviving hope in the confreres and communities before a situation which at times is experienced as "distressing", particularly in terms of the growth of vocations and religious life.
  • Fostering the process of restructuring of Spain and make the path of convergence of provinces in accordance with the navigation chart proposed until 2014.
  • Take the necessary decisions after the discernment on the houses of formation in the region (June 2011).
  • Continue with the coordination of PG from Portugal, France-South Belgium and Spain to work together in the evangelizing proposal of the Region.
  • Identify some significant new projects to be submitted to the commission of the PE for discernment and the sending of missionaries.