Dear Confreres, My celebration of the 11th of November was special indeed! I was in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) together with almost all the Province Delegates for Missionary Animation (PDMA) of Africa-Madagascar Region, a very enriching experience of sharing, planning and enjoying a typical family spirit tog ether with many other Salesians of AET Province and Salesians Sisters from all over Africa. First five days were dedicated to the reflection on “Salesian Mission and the Initial Proclamation of Christ in Africa”. What is Initial Proclamation? Initial proclamation plays a decisive role in the evangelisation process because its goal is to stir up interest in knowing the person of Jesus Christ that ultimately leads to faith and an initial adhesion or a revitalisation of faith in him. As such it is the beginning and the foundation of the evangelisation process. Initial proclamation, therefore, is more than a method. It takes various forms depending on the culture, context, rhythm of life and socio-historical situations of those to whom it is directed to. It is a free and respectful invitation to the interlocutor who freely decides to accept or reject such invitation exemplified by the encounter of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well (Jn 4,3-42). Indeed, neither an ethical choice, nor a doctrinal discourse nor an argumentative presentation of the faith is able to stir up the desire to know Jesus Christ. Only «the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction» (Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, 1) could lead to an initiation of the evangelisation process. It is not surprising if one would ask whether contexts where there is an abandonment of the faith or where it is lived in a routine manner really need new evangelisation and not initial proclamation. In such contexts the initial proclamation that one receives in the family is often not adequate to become the foundation of a robust faith. Without this initial conversion and initial personal faith catechesis risks becoming sterile… To whom is it directed? 1) to those who do not know Jesus Christ (those who are not Christians); 2) to those who search for Someone or something whom they sense but cannot name; 3) to those who go through daily life of any deprived sense, 4) as well as to those who, after having known him, have abandoned him; 5) and to those who believing that they have already known him enough, live their faith in a routine manner
NEW INSIGHTS and INTUITIONS
A firm realization that openness to the Spirit of God moves our hearts to the new frontiers, where we can propose initial proclamation. The new frontiers for us include education, health, developing rapport with the people, with the cultures and the new avenues of communication e.g. social networks (twitter, Facebook, etc.). As an immediate result we created a facebook page, Salesian Missionary DIAM Africa (being DIAM the Italian translation for PDMA! Please, visit and “like” it!) and a blog at Regional level www.missions.salesianszmb.org.
A realization on the part of SDBs and FMAs of the need to work closely with the local Church so that we do not develop a mentality of superiority but that of humility with the willingness to
learn from the local Church. We need “openness and profound humility.”
Formation procedures of our African confreres and sisters need to consider our cultural milieu: They need to be formed to value and affirm their “Africanness”, as African Christians, assimilating the Salesian charism. In order for proclamation to be well rooted for both the announcer and the recipient, the cultural medium is important. [Formation to dialogue with culture, Optatum Totius, nos. 14 and 15]. This implies formation in the African Religion and cultures, where the Gospel value is allowed to challenge the negative aspects of the African cultures.
My report was a bit detailed, and will still continue… I close with an article from our confrere. Happy Christmas to everybody and God bless you
Bro. Paolo Linus Onyenagubor, practical trainee in Bo, our mission frontier in Sierra Leone “The canonical visitation of the regional of Africa/ Madagascar was really a blessing and a gift to the Freetown community in Sierra Leone. 8th October marked a very significant moment for us and that day the Gospel challenged us to be good ambassadors of the word of God by preaching the Gospel undiluted and not saying anything contrary to it. The more we are able to listen to the Gospel, the more we learn to announce it. One of the great events that happened was the Mass celebrated in the new presence in Bo with the parents of the Sierra Leoneans confreres and some children whom we tagged as the first oratorians in Bo presence. Those present from the community were the Rector Fr. Ubaldino, the Vice Rector Fr. Sony who just received the missionary cross to work in AFW province, our newly ordained priest Fr. Peter Morba and Linus who had just began his practical training. The regional Fr. Basanes in his homily stressed that this is a big Eucharistic feast and perhaps one day we will come to recognize what we just did. He added that the Eucharist is like a little seed that will expand and some day explode with many good fruits. As we planted this seed with this first Eucharist, he advised us not to worry about what, where and how to start, for with the Eucharist, everything will spring up. Don Bosco himself started in this way in front of Casa Pinardi. Finally, Fr. Basanes challenged us as religious. Our lives should be like that of the good Samaritan, able to raise questions among those around us. As Don Bosco, who went about taking good care of the poor we have to be God’s sign to the people we are living around with and not to think that we could solve the problems of everybody around us.”
Missionary prayer intention for the month of December
Mission for Hispanic migrants in the United States That the Salesians of the American continent are made aware of the phenomenon of migration in order to prepare a regional plan in this regard. International migration in the whole American continent is one of the most important signs of our times. It has grown dramatically over the last twenty years. Statistics tell us that now there are about 50 million Hispanic migrants in the United States, making up 70% of the Catholic community of the country. Due to the lack of pastors about 600,000 migrant Catholics in the United States leave the Church each year. During the 2011 team visit to the 13 Provinces of the American continent, the Rector Major has called on all Provinces in the region to raise the awareness of confreres regarding the phenomenon of migration and to prepare a regional plan in this regard.