DIREZIONE GENERALE OPERE DON BOSCO
Via della Pisana 1111 - 00163 Roma
The Rector Major
Rome, 4 April 2012
To the Salesian Confreres
of the Congregation
Today, Wednesday of Holy Week 4 April, we concluded the plenary session of the General Council, during which we have reflected on the subject and the objectives of the next General Chapter. Already before the Team Visits, as a Council we studied in depth the challenges which we were meeting in the Congregation. The Team Visits gave us further elements with which to understand the situation. Now the choice of the subject for the GC is meant to be precisely a response to these challenges so as to help the Congregation to proceed along the paths which the Spirit is pointing out to us in our historical context.
Topic of the GC 27: “Witnesses to the radical approach of the Gospel.”
The chosen topic is concerned with witnessing to the radical approach of the Gospel, which in the motto “work and temperance” (cf. C. 18) is a practical formulation of Don Bosco’s plan of life “da mihi animas cetera tolle”. It is meant to help us to examine in depth our charismatic identity, so that we may be aware of our call to live Don Bosco’s apostolic plan with fidelity.
It is a huge subject. For this reason we have decided to focus the attention of the GC27 on four particular areas: living our consecrated Salesian vocation, which is a gift of God and a personal plan of life, with the grace of unity and with joy; having a strong spiritual experience, making one’s own Jesus’ way of living and acting obedient, poor and chaste, becoming seekers of God; building in our communities a fraternal way of life and action; dedicating ourselves with generosity to the mission, walking beside the young in order to give hope to the world.
The fundamental objective of the GC 27
GC27 is meant to help every confrere and every community to live Don Bosco’s apostolic plan with fidelity. GC27 as aimed therefore, in continuity with the GC26, at further strengthening our charismatic identity. This objective is presented in the opening articles of the Constitutions: we Salesian on fact are called “to carry out the Founder’s apostolic plan in a specific form of religious life” ; in addition in our specific form of life, “our apostolic mission, our fraternal community and the practice of the evangelical counsels are the inseparable elements of our consecration, which we live in a single movement of love towards God and towards our brothers.”
Fruits of the GC27
As the fruits of the GC27 we want to make our Salesian life even more authentic and therefore visible, credible and fruitful. This will be possible when it is deeply and vitally centred on God, when with courage and conviction it is rooted in Christ and in his Gospel, when it re-enforces its charismatic identity. It is for this reason that during the last six-year period we have been engaged in returning to Don Bosco, re-awakening the heart of every confrere with the passion of “da mihi animas, cetera tolle”. Living Don Bosco’s apostolic plan with fidelity, or in other words, living our charismatic identity, will make us more authentic; then from this lived identity will come visibility, credibility and vocational fruitfulness. Visibility is not mainly about looking after our image, but is the beautiful witness of our vocation. If we were to bear witness with fidelity and joy to Don Bosco’s apostolic plan, that is the Salesian consecrated vocation, then our life would become attractive, it would become fascinating, to the young especially, and therefore we would have a new vocational fruitfulness.
Other tasks of the GC 27
In addition to studying the topic, the GC27 has other particular tasks. The first of these regards the election of the Rector Major and of the members of the General Council for the period 2014-2020.
Then there is the carrying out of the assessment of some requests made by GC25 and by GC26 or of the changes they introduced.
- First of all a rethinking of the organisation and structuring of the departments for our Salesian mission: youth ministry, missions, social communication, is considered important (Cf GC26, 117, 118).
- Then it is necessary to reflect on the structure of the three Regions in Europe (cf. GC 25, 124, 126, 129); this is becoming more necessary following the decision to redesign the Provinces of Spain which, after the GC27, from six become two.
- In addition the need is felt after the changes which were made to the Constitutions, to make an assessment of the entrusting of the Salesian Family to the Vicar of the Rector Major (cf. GC25, 133 and GC26, 116).
- Finally, “such a review directs attention to the overall structure of the General Council”, with the need for the GC27 to undertake an evaluation of the structures for animation and central government of the Congregation.
The start of the GC27
Even though the letter convoking the Chapter will be sent out in May, I can already tell you that the GC27 will begin on Saturday 22 February 2014 in Turin, the cradle of our charism; then the work will continue in Rome, at the Generalate.
Moderator of the GC27
I have appointed as Moderator of the General Chapter Fr Francesco Cereda; I thank him for his readiness to take on this commitment.
Technical Commission of the GC27
On 2 April, in accordance with art. 112 of the Regulations, I appointed the Technical Commission for the GC27, composed of the following confreres: Fr Fabio Attard, Fr Pierfausto Frisoli, Fr Filiberto Gonzalez, Fr Maria Arokiam Kanaga, Bro. Jean Paul Muller, Fr José Miguel Nuñez. It will draw up some guidelines to be presented in the AGC 413: the programme of preparation for GC27; outlines for reflection and for work on the topic for the GC27; suggestions for the preparation and the holding of the Provincial Chapters; juridical norms for the elections.
I want to conclude this presentation of mine of GC 27, inviting all of you, as well as the communities and Provinces, right from the start to foster those attitudes and the climate which will give practical expression to “work and temperance”. I also invite you to accompany this event with the prayer to Don Bosco, which I gave you at the beginning of the three year period of preparation for the Bicentenary.
Today as yesterday God is calling us to holiness in Salesian life. This is possible if we live as Christ and our beloved founder and a father Don Bosco did. Don Bosco lived his life with immense joy, attractiveness, and a smiling face, but with a strong radical gospel-informed lifestyle expressed in the phrase “work and temperance.”
We are drawing close to the Bicentenary of his birth and we need to arrive there having recovered the joy, the enthusiasm and the pride of being Salesians, as as to be able to put before the young people of today convincingly and honestly the beauty of our vocation.
I entrust to Mary the Immaculate Help of Christians the GC27 and above all each one of you, dear confreres, who I love with the heart of Christ Jesus.
Fr Pascual Chávez V. SDB