Dear Superiors, Salesian Confreres, Sisters, members of the Salesian Family and Friends, please allow me to send my best greetings and wishes to all of you on the Feast of Pentecost, celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ. We believe that it is the Holy Spirit who formed within Don Bosco the heart of a father and teacher, capable of total self-giving to poor young people, and that Mary is our Mother and Intercessor. Like Don Bosco, we believe that Mary has guided and protected this Family for its growth in all continents. She inspires us to care for the well-being of the young generation so that they can have a better future.
We are grateful to our Heavenly Mother and commit ourselves to sharing our filial devotion to Her with those around us, in particular on the Feast of Mary Help of Christians, May 24.
In the last few months, our EAO Region has been given three new superiors: Fr Zaya Bosco of the Vice Province of Myanmar, Fr Fidel Orendain of the Philippines South Province (who is installed today, 23 May) and Fr Barnaba Le An Phong of the Province of Vietnam (whose installation is on 25 May). They have accepted the service of guidance and animation of their province at a very difficult time with the pandemic still at large, as well as social turmoil. They and their respective councils are indeed in need of our prayers and support, in particular from their respective confreres and members of the Salesian Family.
At the same time, the Rector Major and the members of his Council and those of the Sectors are continuing their animation in accord with the guidelines of General Chapter 28. They have developed these into their six-year plans and programs. A number of formation courses for new provincials have been planned and implemented, at least for those who can participate. The majority of meetings of various groups have taken place online. I made an effort to attend most of them as they are necessary for me to undertand better the actual situation of our Region in the particular provinces. We pray that the Pandemic will be over soon so that each sector can implement their programs with physical encounters to assist provinces, such as courses for new provincials, for new provincial delegates in sectors such as Youth Ministry, Formation, Mission Animation, etc ... In such a way, the respective superiors will have their qualified collaborators to animate the mission and works in their provinces.
In addition, without being a revolution, the General Chapter 28 appeals to us to deepen and expand our Salesian identity in our charism and mission as educators and pastors of the young, first among the Salesians themselves and then among their lay mission partners. The Rector Major’s particular recommendation to me as the Regional is to see more animation of vocation ministry in EAO provinces, to encourage more young people to follow Jesus the Lord in consecrated life and to persevere on this journey. In response, we are happy with the good news that the Province of Thailand has 11 novices this academic year (2021-2022). The Vice Province of Mynamar has 8 novices to be formed in their country this year.
We are apprised that other Provinces/Vice Provinces and Delegations are also making great efforts in this vocational accompaniment, including through the collaboration of members of Salesian Family groups and the Salesian Past Pupils, even though some cultures do not encourage this way of life (anyway, consecrated life does not quite go along with certain cultural values which favor egocentrism). Profoundly and originally, the gift of religious vocation comes from the Lord himself and it is He who grants sufficient graces for the young to respond to His calling, provided that we, the Christian community, encourage this way of life.
I invite you to continue to pray for those members of our Salesian Family who are in difficulties, and for me, to be able to travel to provinces to meet you when the circumstances of the pandemic allow me to do so.
May Mary Help of Christians intercede for us to receive the graces that we are in need of.
Yours in Don Bosco!
Fr. Joseph Nguyen Thinh Phuoc, SDB
General Councillor for the East Asia-Oceania Region