Cambodian Salesian Family Meeting with the Rector Major
- SDB: 13 present, total of 19 confreres from 10 nations (3 communities)
- FMA: 26 sisters from 12 nations (4 communities) 2 Khmer sisters + 1 novice (Aug5), 1 postulant, 2 aspirants
- SIHM: 6 sisters: Thai and 1 Khmer sister, prenovice, aspirant (2 communities)
- DB Past Pupils: 4 present (Federation established in 2010)
- Salesian Cooperators: (present late, speak), total of 22 promised, since 2007 – Coordinator speaking, monthly meeting, with 34 participants in their monthly meeting. During their meeting speak how they can help the activities of their school and the Church.
- VDB: nobody present, total of 2 aspirants
- Former president of the DB Past Pupils (2010-2012), working for the government with electrical company in 18 provinces of Cambodia, supporting the school and working hard to find a good job for the students (on job training 3 months for the 2nd years). Happy to see there the whole Salesian Family here – Fathers, Sisters and Brother!
Sharing of the Rector Major
(Translation by Br. Roberto SDB – Khmer, Sr. Jessica FMA – English)
I would like to express my joy to be with you. Before the start of my talk, I would like to mention about the numbers of present nationalities amongst us here! Dear Brothers and Sisters, it’s more difficult to build a fraternity in this large diversity, but it’s more evangelical! Whenever possible in our SF, I would like to mention our reality. WE should not fear this effort for multicultural and international reality, and this is very missionary and evangelical. When I was in Argentina we were 21 nationalities in one province. We don’t lose the sense of belonging to own culture but is growing in openness to others.
1. It’s a wonderful reality to find all around the world some life of Salesian Family. How was born our Salesian Family. We know, it was a great intuition of DB, first with the SDB, then with the FMA. He dreamt the FMA as a living monument to Our Lady. Then the dream of Don Bosco about the Lay people in the Salesian Family. This year we celebrate 140 years of establishment of the Salesian Cooperators Association. DB already long ahead of the Vatican II understood that the participation of the lay people in the SF. His great love to Our Lady brought him to start the ADMA association. And we know that DB was not a founder of the Past Pupils – both of DB and MHC. It does mean that the Past Pupils are not members of the SF? It’s a wonderful reality, since we know, that they were the first who expressed to Don Bosco for their received education. They wanted to acknowledge their formation was a guide for their lives. For this reason the Blessed Don Rinaldi put a system in this Past Pupils Associations, not as a Founder, just as a organizer. From this reality until now we have a large 30 member strong group of the SF, the largest in the Catholic Church. More than a proud, it’s a responsibility for us in the Church. Also here in Cambodia we should acknowledge a presence of seven (7) groups of the Salesian Family. After 25 years of our presence in Cambodia it’s a wonderful reality! In other nations we have been witnessing the rich reality of SF (Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia) each with different member, and 15 groups in Ecuador only. In India there are 12 groups among those 6 founded in India only!
2. For this reason I would like to underline the historical DB 200 meeting of all SF superiors in Turin last January 2015. It was possible for the first time (28/30 superiors together presnet!), a unique and beautiful reality! We missed only Hermanas de la Resurreccion (Guatemala) with some internal difficulties and other from India who were celebrating their General Chapter. It was a great symbol of witnessing to pray and offering ourselves together in front of the casket of DB in the MHC Basilica at Valdocco! ‘Your small family, DB started by you, now is blooming with 30 different branches of a large tree!’
3. What is important for us here in Cambodia today?
a. We should put together all our energies together in order to build our communion! More than say, who is doing this, who is of this or that group, it’s important to show our communion in Jesus, in His Gospel amidst of different religion people. What are the specific points of each group is invited to share with other members, but showing to the people who we are! IN this sense your joint present today and with all of young people from all Cambodia SF setting does speak loudly about this communion a lot! I invite you to put your energies, to those moments – occasions to offer our joint witness to our communion!
b. From the ecclesial point of view: Dear Salesian Family – what the Church is asking us when we are called to any new territory – is to saw the specific points of our identity and Charism to the local Church. Always in the communion with the local Church we are called to express our Salesian identity. Again – we are called by the Church to come here to implant your Charism! This is requested to all groups in the Church that is a piece of one great mosaic. In this way we offer a wonderful service to the whole Church. In this sense I invite you to contribute to the vocation culture, in order to saw seeds of vocation. As much as we understand the life as a gift, there will be (always) vocations for all, not only for us! I invite to you to have the capacity to accompany all young people to discover the dream of God about themselves. It’s more than to fish for ‘my’ own Congregation, it’s wonderful and will give us freedom.
c. Dear friends, we have a great opportunity for the service to the Cambodian society and Church through our schools. You know better than me the history of this nation. But for example the 3 congregations present here we have a wonderful opportunity of building and transforming the society of Cambodia. And look, I don’t’ speak about ‘conversion’, I’m speaking about the transformation of mentality of local people here! I speak about the life vision about solidarity, freedom and justice – all the points you know. I invite you for a wonderful reflection – what kind of young people do we envision at the end of our Salesian education in our education institutions: What kind of family mentality, what sense of respect for the women, what kind of solidarity or justice convictions. This should be our constant reflection about our young Cambodia formation.
d. Today I would like to talk especially to and for the Past Pupils. I’m happy to know that we have more than 20.000 Past Pupils in Cambodia. I was happy to listen to the former President of the DBPP about their hard work for job placement of our Past Pupils! Sometimes we have some not-so-good image about the Past Pupils in the world: when the have only the nostalgia about their former education time, they come together only for some celebration meals and their talk is more about criticism since their school is not as years ago. It’s not the PP reality and should not be so! Our PP present and future are the fruits of our education, it’s our responsibility to educate them well (NB=when still in the school). We have a wonderful opportunity of influence during their school time and after their graduation. Please, think seriously to create a clear network of our PP in the Cambodia society already today! If we would be just happy with the good done only in our schools, but now taking this opportunity (for the society).
e. What I have shared regarding the DBPP is still more valid also for the Salesian Cooperators.
1. During few months in Cambodia (FMA provincial) I observed that hard work of SDB. There is any plan for strengthening of SDB in Cambodia, it’s not easy to breath the Salesian spirit without a Salesian community – for the benefit of the young people in your schools, they have right to breath the Salesian spirit during their education time.
RM: First – we should work on the vocation culture here in Cambodia. In each nation we can send missionaries for some years, but each country should give own vocation fruits. I invite you (knowing the time of God is not our time) to work hard on the vocation culture here in Cambodia. Secondly we would like to see growing our (SDB) presences in Cambodia and I’m sure this dream will become reality in near future. Third – I’m telling you: attention to our formation of lay mission partners in our schools. It’s not enough just to command in our school – it’s a big mistake! FMA and SDB are present in many parts of the world and we learn from other countries mistakes. We can’t believe, that the administration or our schools (in our hands) is not enough! We should guarantee the formation of all (Lay mission partners) in our schools! As far as I would like to shared a reality that I’ cant’ easily understand what I did observed in Asia – in our past Gen. Chapters – to work with the Lay People is not an optional. I don’t’ know if you would be scandalized, but there are some education institutions, but there are in many parts of the world education institutions entrusted to the LPM and doing better than those to the religious. (Only in ARS province there are 29 schools are run by LMP without any religious community. And I can tell you, that some of them have a wonderful Salesian environment better than in the times of Salesian community – not for being Lay – but for their good Salesian Charismatic identity. I know this is not easily understood here in Asia. Still there are many SDB and FMA are still convinced that they have the power. What we learn – that our vocation, it’s not about administration, but to be educators, apostles of the young within our schools! I would like to talk about this. We have not time enough – the whole morning is not enough for this.
A: How can we have vocations, if nobody speaks about God (without a sister I can’t think about my own vocation – as happen in my own country (Italy). It’s not that we don’t like the lay people.
RM: The reply is easy. I didn’t’ say we should be not among the youth. Where we are we should live with a beautiful passion for the young, and witness with our life more than with our words. But where we are not present (due to lack of FMA sisters). Also FMA have 26 works without religious sisters – we can learn from other parts of the world. The FMA were talking ‘we should close our schools, because we are not there. But our GC were telling ‘NOT” but we should to guarantee the presence in our schools with LMP (lay mission partners). In many countries the works are more than the number of religious. To believe, that without religious present we are not doing a good, it’s not true. … And I invite you to put in your heart and head this conviction, it’s not contradictory. In some parts of the world we speak about this and that. We speak about the Lay people in the SF, but when we speak about our work, we don’t’ have the same consistency of acting.
My own strong personal conviction from Argentina: As provincial of that reality I told to my Salesians: I will never send any young confrere to the school just to be administrator in the school. Among 15 young priests nobody was sent to the school for administration. So what did they do? They did what is our vocation – to be amongst the youth, hear confession and be present among the youth, their spiritual guides. These confreres were very happy! In some part of the world, the young priest the day after their ordination they are asking ‘what will be my job’? The reply should be ‘to be a Salesian amongst the youth!’
Report by Fr. Klement Vaclav, Regional Councilor for EAO.