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.
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.
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)
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:
The list of the difficulties is as follows:
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.
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.
II PART: REGION
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.
Incontro Ispettori di Europa
José Miguel Núñez
Roma, 26-28 novembre 2010
I PART: PROVINCES
The principal reasons of interests
The PE is a reason for hope among the confreres because:
First area: revitalization endogenous
Second area: restructuring
Third area: Europe, land of missions
First area: revitalization endogenous
Second area: restructuring
Third area: Europe, land of missions
II PART: REGION
2.1. Phases completed in the Region in 2009-2010
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.
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.
2.2. DIFFICULTIES ENCOUNTERED IN THE REGION IN 2009-2010