United States – Two Province Observances

07 February 2023

(New Rochelle – February 6) – On Saturday, February 4, two province observances occurred at the Marian Shrine in Haverstraw, N.Y. The first occurrence was the annual celebration of Province Day, moved up from its customary date in May in order to accommodate the second occurrence, one of four province meetings aimed at helping the Rector Major discern the appointment of a new provincial. Fr. Hugo Orozco, the regional councilor for Interamerica, presided at both Mass in the Shrine chapel and the assembly in Fr. Lee Hall of the confreres from the New York metro area and from Boston. The Eucharistic celebration was a votive Mass of Mary Help of Christians with the readings of the weekday. It began on time at 9:00 a.m. and last just 40 minutes. The congregation included 34 concelebrating priests, 2 deacons, 19 brothers, a prenovice, 4 candidates from Orange, and 2 other priests—a total of 52 confreres.

Fr. Hugo gave what was probably the shortest homily in the history of provincial feastdays in our province. The gospel reading (Mark 6:30-34) called our attention to Jesus’ compassion for the crowds who had come to him. Fr. Hugo urged the confreres to strive to be like Jesus, to have compassionate hearts.

The assembly for the discernment process in Lee Hall was basically the same group. After a coffee break, Fr. Hugo initiated the discernment by explaining the multi-step process to be followed. Later he also explained the process that the Rector Major and general council would follow, probably in July, in selecting the confrere who will lead the province for the next six years, based in large part on the consultation of the province.

After praying, the Salesians and candidates, sitting at 10 or 12 tables, discussed strengths, weaknesses, and challenges of the province; some of these were voiced for everyone to hear. Then Fr. Hugo asked the professed participants to write 3 names on slips of paper and pass these to him. Two brothers helped him compile a list of all the names put forward—about 20 of them—which were projected without any indication of the number of times they were listed.

Then the confreres were asked to fill out an online form, partly about themselves (in order to weigh the relative value of the suggestions) and partly with first, second, and third choices for a provincial and their reasons for those choices. This information constitutes the heart of what Fr. Hugo will take back to Turin from this Marian Shrine assembly as well as from parallel assemblies in Tampa, Etobicoke, and Surrey. (The general council has been meeting at the Motherhouse in Turin while Sacro Cuore in Rome undergoes renovation.)

This consultation process took two and a half hours. By 12:30 p.m. everyone was ready to eat and did justice to the hors d’oeuvres and the buffet luncheon. Fr. Tim Zak presented a film clip about what the Salesians are doing for the suffering people in Ukraine, who will be the beneficiaries again this year of the communities’ gifts for Province Day. The confreres from Orange, under the leadership of Bro. Sal Sammarco, sang two hymns that Bro. Sal had composed. There was a surfeit of leftovers for confreres to take home; and thus closed the day’s festivities.

by Fr. Mike Mendl, SDB


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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