EVOLVE or ERODE: The ‘S’ Factor

Glenn Lowe sdb

Chapters come… Chapters go. What remains after everything else has faded away will be what I call the ‘S’ factor. Every Congregation/ Organization passes through four stages of development. Through 150 years the Salesians have gone through three such stages: SEED – TREE – FOREST. Then what? What has the fourth stage in store for us?

Stage ONE is the Entrepreneurial stage and the focus is on Viability. In Salesian terms we call it the SEED stage. A dream, a passionate Johnny Bosco backed by a divine intervention and Salesian life is born.

Stage TWO is the Emerging stage and the focus is on Credibility. In Salesian terms we call it the TREE stage. Recognized by State and Church the small band of Salesians becomes ‘leaven’ in the world of the Young.

Stage THREE is the Established stage and the focus is on Stability. The thick of the FOREST is seen in our expansion across the globe. The vast movement of peoples in the Salesian Way.

Stage FOUR is EVOLVE or ERODE. The focus is on vulnerability. Return to roots and Mission or crumble. This Provincial Chapter must be a call to rise to a higher purpose or perish. It is here that the ‘S’ factor will determine our course. ‘S’ for ‘Significant Salesians’ or ‘Superficial Sons’
PC2010 must be an avenue for us as a province to make ‘S’ choices:
To shun the ‘Spectacular’ and choose the more ‘Simple’ ways of reaching out
To move out of our ‘Stagnation’ and ‘Stretch for more Surprise’.
To abandon our ‘Superficial’ activities and get started on ‘Spirited’’ apostolate
To seek less the quest for ‘Success’ and attract more ‘Significance’
To reduce the ‘Sound’ barrier and love more ‘Silence’ that leads to reflection
To realize the weakness of ‘Single’ mentality and believe in the strength of ‘Synergy’
To reorganize our ‘Support-based’ works to become ‘Sustainable’ movements of peoples
To give up our ‘Selfish’ interests and generate more ‘Stewardship’
To bask in the ‘Sunshine’ of a daring future rather than dwell in the ‘Shadow’ of our past.
To discover that amidst the ‘Secular’ we can touch the ‘Spiritual’
On a personal level, love for more ‘Sobriety’ than a ‘Superfluous’ lifestyle
And finally, ‘S’ for ‘Salesian Spirituality’ … the essence of it all.

Our Rector Major says, “We should never forget that young people are not a pastime for us nor a work to be done as quickly as possible and in any old way. Young people are our mission, they are our raison d'etre, our ‘theological place’ (cf SDB C. 95), they are our way of experiencing God and our sanctification, since they are part of our inheritance.” He continues, “It is about going to meet them, their needs, their aspirations, meeting up with them gladly in their daily life, being attentive to their appeals, ready to know their world, give life to their activity and involvement, awakening their sense of God, proposing to them ways to holiness according to Salesian spirituality (cf GC 26).

In the absence of these ‘S’ factor choices, the forest will soon be DE-FORESTED. Cynics tell us that the life span of any congregation is just 200 years.
Is this chapter going to be a ‘SAVE the SOCIETY’ campaign or better still can we “SPIRAL the SOCIETY” to a higher plane of living and being Salesian?
YES we CAN. ‘S’ we can … ‘S’ we can

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