Any gathering of Rectors anywhere in the Region is likely to be of interest to others, given that the Rectors bear the brunt of responsibility of the charism in life ‘at the coal-face’, and that ‘Superiors at every level of government share in one and the same authority, and exercise it in communion with the Rector major for the benefit of the whole Society’.
An event of note in the Australia-Pacific Province has been the meeting of all the Rectors at Lysterfield from 20-22 September. All Rectors were present at the meeting. As is customary at our Salesian gatherings, perhaps the best experience of those few days was the time we spent together. A sense of belonging to the Congregation, to the Church and to the Lord generates a great bond! On top of that, there was the usual Salesian joy. The days were marked by a series of reflections on major Salesian documents that examine the person and role of the Rector. On the first evening we all watched The Tree of the Wooden Clogs, a superb film of agrarian life, set in the 1870’s, that provides powerful background to much of Don Bosco’s early life and faith experience. Unfortunately, the film is very long, and some weary travellers (from Samoa and interstate) found that 11pm was a little late! However, in a sharing session that opened our time together on Tuesday morning, even the sleepers showed that an impression had been made on them.
Tuesday morning was spent in a study of Don Bosco’s Memorandum to Rectors. We used Pat Laws’ translation of a document that had its origins in Don Bosco’s recommendations to a young Don Rua and he set off to become the Rector at Mirabello, but had been visited and revisited many time until 1886. Three Rectors asked four questions of the text: what is the background that produced this text? What is in the text that is no longer relevant? What remains relevant? What might we add for the present experience of a Rector.
Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday turned to the now obsolete The Salesian Rector, the manual produced in 1986, and never revised. Four Rectors presented their observations on the first sections of the document (authority and renewal, charisma of authority in the Salesian Congregation, the local community). We plan to return to this document in the years to come, in the hope that we will produce our own Australia-Pacific guide to a Salesian Rector in the third Millennium.
The Provincial celebrated the Eucharist to mark the Feast of St Matthew. At that Eucharist all the Rectors publicly renewed their commitment to the Church, the Congregation, and Don Bosco’s mission. On Wednesday morning, Mosese Tui (Samoa) was the chief celebrant for our final Eucharist. These rich days were made even richer by the incomparable beauty of Lysterfield, the support of Fr Martin Tanti, and the good cheer always found in a Salesian dining room.