FIS Extraordinary Visitation
The extraordinary visitation on Mary Help of Christian Province (FIS) – Philippines South and Pakistan began last January 20. The 3 month-long visitation concluded with the Rectors meeting on April 23 and with the SDB provincial council meeting on April 24th in Cebu.
Marian spirituality stands out as the most visible trademark of this province – through the daily entrustment prayer and the numerous ADMA groups in almost all houses.
Established in 1992, the FIS province is slowly growing. There are 114 professed Salesians (25 of them still in initial formation) and 3 novices. The members are spread around five islands of Visayas and Mindanao (14 communities in the Philippines) and with two communities the Pakistan Delegation (established in 2015). The average age is 46 years.
Most of the apostolic works are focused on the preferential option of Don Bosco — the youth in need and youth at risk (9 Vocation training centers, 3 Boys homes, Magone house).
By and large, the mission embraces almost 13,000 children and young people, not counting the 20,000 youth and adults who pass every year the Don Bosco retreat houses.
The Salesians cater to 1300+ lay mission partners and other numerous members of the Salesian family (200+ Salesian Cooperators, hundreds of ADMA members and Don Bosco Past Pupils, VDB, Damas Salesianas and also 3 FMA communities).
Beside the personal talk to each confrere (special questions about personal spiritual accompaniment ‘Cafasso’) there was ample opportunity to listen to hundreds of youth leaders, lay mission partners and Salesian family members who continue to contribute to the education and evangelization of the young.
The whole visitation time fell inside the preparation for the Filipino National Youth Day in Cebu (April 23-29) with close to 15,000 youth from all dioceses of the Philippines and 400+ Salesian Youth Movement delegates.
As visitor, I also participated at the funeral of one Salesian, Fr. Luis Badilla and was able to meet the bishops of Cebu, Mati, Borongan, Dumaguete and Bacolod (Bishop Patrick Buzon, SDB).
During last two days of meetings Fr. Godofredo Atienza, the provincial, gave thanks for the numerous signs of growth – in new vocations, in efforts to reach out to more marginalized youth; in the growing qualification of the confreres and the works (esp. TVET – Training Centers); in formation and involvement of lay mission partners and especially for the vocation and missionary culture growing in the province, like the ‘SALVO’ (Salesian Lay Volunteers).
With a strong, yet serene outlook, the rectors also shared about their main challenges and needs, particularly in spiritual accompaniment, systematic formation of the lay people and strengthening the sense of belonging to one provincial community.
Inspite of the challenging geographical context, the province continuous to receive new invitations (like the most recent in Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao and Hyderabad diocese in the Pakistan). This must however be considered in the context of the need for ongoing reshaping of our presences to guarantee a clear charismatic mission to the young.
The visitation was interrupted due to various East Asia – Oceania regional events: the Annual encounter of the EAO provincial (KOR – Seoul, March), EAO Salesian History Conference (THA – Sampran, February) and provincial level events (FIN new provincial consultation, CIN province and VIE province short animation visits).
Thanks to the efficient FIS Social Communication office and the collaboration of many confreres, there are more than 25 news articles on the Boscolink (www.bosco.link) shared during the visit in the 14 canonical communities. After the recent Provincial Chapter (March 2019) the whole provincial community is looking with hope and commitment towards what is in store for the mission of Don Bosco in FIS.
(by: Fr. Vaclav Klement, SDB)