Are we willing to change?

Ashley Miranda sdb

GC26 has invited us Salesians to return back to Don Bosco. Now, returning back to Don Bosco to rediscover who he was is a commendable thing. Celebrating the person of Don Bosco, feeling proud of his achievements and that of his Salesian congregation over these last 150 years since its founding is perfectly legitimate. But we need to remember that we want to go back in order to be able to go forward with new enthusiasm and energy; in the words of Khalil Gibran, we seek to rediscover our roots in order to find our wings. Returning back to the back is a common sense strategy, remaining there is sentimentalism.

GC26 challenges us to trust the power of Providence as deeply as Don Bosco did and launch out exploring new frontiers in the service of the young, those at risk, the Church and the world at large. It suggests to us that we need to focus not only on what we do but how we do it. Specifically this means viewing the young not merely as beneficiaries of our work but as partners in their own development and growth. It means moving from the welfare model in our apostolate with the poor and the marginalised to one that focuses on their basic rights as human persons. GC 26 invites us to prepare ourselves for the challenges ahead by taking personal responsibility for our own formation, paying special attention to the formation of our young confreres, strengthening our bonds as community especially through an attitude of openness to the word of God, a commitment to community prayer and the joyful celebration of the Eucharist, and seeking to make the Salesian family not just a collection of like minded persons sharing the same sympathies, but a vast movement of persons committed to the integral welfare of the young.

The province of Mumbai had its first session of its Provincial Chapter 2010 on October 1st, 2009. The second session is scheduled for February 22nd to February 27th, 2010. In the intervening time the various commissions set up during the first session met a number of times to work together and formulate documents containing objectives and lines of actions connected with various aspects of our life and apostolate as Salesians of the Province of Mumbai. Working drafts of these documents have come in and the first impression one gets is that a good amount of serious work has gone into their formulation. During the second session of the chapter we hope to put these documents together into one cohesive whole and come up with an Overall Provincial Plan for the province to guide its life and action over the next six years. The chances are that we will put together a fairly decent document that will give us much satisfaction.

The question is what happens after the Overall Provincial Plan is formulated and put in place? The real yardstick to judge the success or failure of PC2010 will not be how smoothly the discussion went or how elegant our document was. Instead what we do after the chapter will determine whether PC2010 was time well spent or just an unethical waste of precious time, paper and resources. The question we need to ask ourselves now before the second session of PC2010 and surely after it as well is do we feel the need for change? What is it we are willing to change? Are we willing to make the sacrifices necessary and pay the price, if any, of change? Going forward, discovering new frontiers, exploring new horizons demands first of all an openness of mind and heart, the courage and the discipline to accept the challenges that these new frontiers place before us.

Hopefully PC2010 will not merely give us another document that occupies a quite space in our offices or becomes one more addition to the volumes in our libraries. Instead may PC2010 be an expression of our desire to rediscover the spirit of Don Bosco in our own day and our courageous willingness to reinterpret His charism anew for the young and the marginalized.

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