The Salesian Lay Brother
Bro. JP and I have been discussing terms and labels last night. We were asking ourselves how should we call those in formation just before the novitiate. Are we to call them aspirants or seminarians, postulants or pre-novices? It was then that I learned from this jolly brother that, as for Don Bosco Formation Center, we call them aspirants and postulants in sensitivity to those aspiring to become Salesian Lay Brothers.
Not everyone is aware that there are two kinds of Salesians: the clerics and the lay brothers. The clerics are those in view for the holy orders, or in short those who want to live their Salesian vocation as priests. The lesser known group are the Salesian Lay Brothers, those who want to live their Salesian vocation in the lay state or in their field of profession and won’t become priests in the near forseeable future.
I have always admired our Salesian Lay Brothers. Most of them, if not all, are known for their hard work and dedication. They work silently, albeit they are plagued with questions of when they will become priests since they have been called brothers for decades. They are known for their forte in their respective fields and they have worked for the young like horses without the limelight of priesthood. Such humble and silent dedicated work inspires me a lot. In my novitiate, I thought for months before handing my application to first profession on which path I should take. I would very much like to spend my life as a Salesian Lay Brother but God has other plans for me.
Several of the Salesians I deeply admire and idolize are Lay Brothers. One of my closest friends here in the Post Novitiate is a Lay Brother. Coming back from a national convention he came home silently and upon noticing him back, I could not help myself but welcome him with a tight hug. These breed of Salesians translate Don Bosco’s Da Mihi Animas in the lay state, working for young people in their own field of work. You can see them in the shops, in classrooms, in choirs, in soccer fields, in offices, and at the chapel, faithfully living their consecrated life for the love of God and of young people.
This touches a deep chord in me because the Salesian Lay Brother offers everything who he is, his person and skills, and lives like an ordinary professional while living his vows of obedience, chastity, and poverty out of his belief in the mission of Don Bosco. Clerics and priests enjoy attention because they wear the cloth, but the Salesian Lay Brother works in the background without much fuss. They don’t wear the clerical, the cassock or the stole. They go about in plain clothes, but if you look carefully, you notice that they are wearing the Spirit of Don Bosco. Kudos to the Salesian Lay Brothers!