At present there are 53 temporary professed and 155 perpetually professed Brothers – a total of 208 Salesian Brothers in the 12 provinces and 23 countries of East Asia-Oceania (EAO) region.
The first insight is very simple: within the context of the World SDB community's diminishing number of Salesian Brothers, the EAO region - together with Africa-Madagascar region - stands out as the only two growth regions for Salesian Brothers. Since the birth of the EAO, we have 20 Salesian Brothers more than in 2002 (Africa, +21 Brothers). In the meantime, the total number of Salesian Brothers around the world diminished by 626 units, that is from 2260 Brothers in 2002 to 1634 Salesian Brothers in 2018.
The second insight concerns the changing geography of Salesian Brothers in the Region: 60 years ago, the China province had the largest number of Brothers; first place is now taken by Vietnam (62 Brothers). Few provinces keep stable number of Brothers: AUL and FIS, and other provinces, show diminishing trend - CIN, GIA, KOR, FIN; the following show growth trends: INA, MYM, PGS, THA, TLS and VIE.
The third insight concerns the total absence of Brothers in some areas: there are 9 of 23 countries with no local Salesian Brothers: Fiji, New Zealand, Samoa, Pakistan, PNG, Solomon Islands, Malaysia, Laos and Mongolia. And we are grateful to welcome the first local Brother from Cambodia.
The presence or absence of Salesian Brothers in the provincial council (CIN, FIN, MYM), in the Formation commissions, or absence in the aspirantate, prenovitiate and novitiate also impact our charismatic balance of lay and clerical elements.
There are many ways we can reflect on our statistics. What are the factors that foster solid growth of Salesian Brother vocations in most of our provinces? What makes one provincial community Salesian Brother-friendly? There are many point the 7th EAO Congress will reflect on the statistics, but one thing is certain: the main impact on the Salesian vocations growth is not from “outside” (general culture, Catholic Church clericalism, family pressure, etc.), but the main impact exercised by “Salesian culture” created within each EAO provincial community.
This fact was already confirmed 12 years ago in the 5th EAO Congress in Cambodia.
“Each call is an indication that the Lord loves the Congregation, wants to see it vibrant for the good of the Church and never cease to enrich it with new apostolic energy.” (SDB Constitutions art. 22)