|Spain – Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga with the Provincial Council of Valencia|
|United States– Salesian Missionary Voluntary Service: unity is strength|
|Spain - There are some sure points of reference for young people|
(ANS – Stony Point) – Over 130 Salesian Cooperators, along with their SDB and FMA delegates, from Canada, the two Provinces in the United States and from Mexico assembled at the Don Bosco Retreat Center Stony Point, near New York for a weekend Congress (22-23 October). The theme was "Celebrate Our Salesian Family: Mission to Youth."
"In a way, this is actually an international congress," said Herman Lopez, World Councillor for the Inter-America region, one of the presenters. Although Congress members live in Canada, Mexico and the United States, many of the participants were born in and became Salesian Cooperators in other countries, including China, Germany, Haiti, Korea, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to name a few. Congress materials were presented in English, French and Spanish.
The Councillor emphasized that Salesians are not mere collaborators, baking cookies and preparing activities in our various centers. Instead, Cooperators are equally responsible for the mission of service, alongside the Salesians, Salesian Sisters and other branches of the Salesian Family.
Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga SDB, the archbishop of Tegucigalpa,Honduras and President of Caritas Internationalis, was the keynote speaker at the Congress. "A childish faith cannot support an adult life!" With this example, the Cardinal explained that for too many people in North America catechesis ended at the elementary school level, and he said that Catholics need a spiritual GPS, getting our orientation from the Word of God, the Eucharist and Mary.
He then said: "The goal of this Congress is to arrive at a permanent state of mission, with each Cooperator becoming a missionary disciple of Jesus Christ." Of young people, he said they need an encounter: "Not with a book or an institution, but with the person of Jesus Christ." There is the need for Salesian Cooperators who are filled with the Spirit as apostles with a missionary spirit, making themselves the "Juan Diegos" of the New World, bringing people, especially the young, to full maturity in the faith.
The goal of the congress was to establish a missionary effort that unites all of the Provinces in North America. This will become the reference by which decisions about evangelisation will be made at the local and Province level. It is the first step to begin the work of pastoral planning for the future.
On Sunday 23, Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga presided and preached during a Mass for World Mission Sunday at the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians in Stony Point. During the afternoon, the group had a tour of New York City, with stops at the World Trade Center Memorial and St. Patrick's Cathedral.