Peru – Let's keep walking: Team Visit 2023

31 March 2023

(ANS - Lima) - The participants of the Team Visit to the Inter-American Region began Thursday, March 30, under a refreshing breeze. At 6:45 a.m. the Provincials and their Councilors approached the chapel to celebrate the Eucharist, presided by Fr. Hugo Orozco, Regional Councilor, and concelebrated by the Provincials of Colombia-Medellin (COM), Fr. Luis Fernando Valencia, and Colombia-Bogotá (COB), Fr. Jhon Jairo Valencia. Then the scheduled activities began. 

In the morning, there were speeches by the General Councilor for Youth Ministry, Fr. Miguel Angel García Morcuende, and the General Councilor for Missions, Fr. Alfred Maravilla, on the theme "Accompanying New Vocations."

Fr. Miguel Angel García argued that it is important to revitalize pastoral efforts, with the goal of acknowledging new youth movements. "In recent years we have talked and written a lot on the subject of vocation animation. Something new is emerging and we need to respond to it," said Fr. García Morcuende.

The latter also explained that another key and fundamental factor is the promotion of a solid vocational culture, where the conception of life as a vocation and the fruit of interaction among people is perceived. "The culture of a Salesian house or Province is the fruit of interaction among people," and it is materialized, on the one hand, in the way and style of being a community and, on the other hand, in the interpretation of the different experiences that are lived in daily life.

Finally, he mentioned that when an Educational-Pastoral Community creates the right atmosphere, young people are more willing to listen to God's call.

Fr. Maravilla, in conjunction with the Missions sector, presented the theme, "The animation of new vocations." He began by highlighting three words that sum up missionary vocations: accompaniment, discernment, and vocation. "When the missionary spirit is alive in consecrated life, it becomes attractive because consecrated persons become passionate about sharing their love and faith in Jesus, which gives rise to missionary activities (volunteer work, missionary groups, etc.)," he explained.

An important point he emphasized was that missions can no longer be understood only in geographical terms, of movement to "mission lands," since missions are found wherever there is a need to proclaim the Gospel: in sociological and cultural contexts, and even on the digital continent. "Young Salesians must be trained in readiness, with an open eye to the life of the Church and the Congregation, and should be sensitized to missionary projects."

After a short break, the Provincials from Venezuela, the Antilles, and Central America related the current state of their Provinces and how social and political problems affect the growth of vocations.

In Venezuela, for example, the school dropout rate is 70 percent, as educators resign from schools and most of them leave the country.

In Nicaragua, one of the countries belonging to the Central American Province, given the social problems, Salesians fear that the government will confiscate some of their property, generating instability and tension.

In Cuba, a country belonging to the Antilles Province, the vocational reality has been hit hard. Many families and young people want to emigrate to other countries in search of better opportunities. "According to a study conducted, in 10 to 15 years, Cuba will no longer have indigenous vocations," warned Fr. José Pastor Ramírez, Provincial of the Antilles.

Fr. Joan Luis Playá, Central Delegate of the Rector Major for the Secretariat for the Salesian Family, and Fr. Gildasio Mendes, General Councilor for Social Communication, spoke in the afternoon.

The former reflected on the importance of helping to appreciate the human and spiritual patrimony of the Salesian Family (SF) in the Region, "a beautiful reality for which to thank the Lord, all its members, and the confreres involved in animation and accompaniment." The role of the laity, he noted, is essential; it is they who, with their commitment and tenacity, succeed in consolidating the Salesian Family. "This is why it is necessary to relaunch the commitment to the formation of every lay person as a committed 'Salesian' Christian," he said.

The last talk of the day was given by Fr. Mendes, who developed the theme "How to live the Salesian sacrament of presence to be communicators of shared mission?"

The authenticity and novelty of Salesian communication are the fruit of fidelity to religious consecration, the witness of life, the capacity for dialogue, the outcome of the closeness, welcome, and trust established in human and institutional relationships.

In this sense, the roots of the Salesian mission are found in the Salesian charism. Communication, in its broadest expression, is rooted in the charism. It is an expression of the authentic and free being that communicates based on its values and behavior. Living the sacrament as communicators means being real and true for people in every situation and circumstance.

He also reiterated that we need to respond with originality to today's world and the diversity of ways of communicating (digital habitat); that is, to respond intelligently and broadly, always starting from and respecting the Salesian charism.

In the evening, the conclusions of the day followed, and finally, Br. Jean Paul Muller, the General Economer, offered the Salesian "good night" thought.

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