Third day of Rector’s Major visit in Melbourne was dedicated to the key of Australia – Pacific province future growth: formation of the young Salesians together with joint reflection about main topics at the provincial level.
Don Bosco Formation House at Clifton Hill, Melbourne was at the program in the morning. The youngest community at Australian soil, with four formators of three nationalities (China – Hong Kong, Vietnam, Australia) and eight young Salesians of six nationalities in the formation house (one Korean, two Timorese, two Thai, one Australian, one Indian missionary from Cambodia and one aspirant of Vietnam origin). The Rector, Fr. Phil Gleeson is also a provincial delegate for formation and professor at the Catholic Theological College. Clifton Hill – Melbourne and Paraňaque – Manila, are the only two interprovincial communities for preparation of the candidates to the priesthood in the EAO region.
The community caters for Salesians in initial formation and for Salesians undertaking higher studies. Men preparing for ordination as Salesian priests live in the community and undertake studies at Catholic Theological College (20 minutes distance). Young Salesians undertake either theological or other professional studies to prepare them for their future mission. Post-graduate students attend most notably Catholic Theological College and Australian Catholic University. The community provides pastoral care for the parish of the Our Lady of the Southern Cross with St John the Baptist church, Clifton Hill, and St Joseph church, Collingwood.
The encounter with the Rector Major was characterized by a very open and deep sharing, started with the tour around the whole pastoral-formation setting: Parish Church, Presbytery with an Aspirantate and Formation house for the students of theology. In an open dialogue Fr. Ángel tackled two main topics of Salesian formation today: Personalized formation that is able to transform deeply the hearts of our young Salesians and Intercultural formation that is able to grow in openness in the context of many different cultures. Followed many frank and open questions, even with the surprise of the formators: How to strengthen the human, affective and sexual maturity? What might be the focus of the Salesian parish today? How to accompany the young confreres in ongoing open talk environment with the formators? How to discern the desire to work after the ordination in the AUL province that offered this opportunity of good quality formation? In past ten years this community offers a valuable contribution to form mature and well prepared Salesian for some four-five provinces of EAO region.
Three hours long provincial council meeting at Ascot Vale, provincial center was focused on the main topics regarding the future of the Australia – Pacific province, get know the working method of the provincial council and the main strengths, weakness, opportunity of the provincial community in its four countries. Special attention got the path towards the future Delegation of the Pacific (Samoa, Fiji and New Zealand), need of more open formation opportunity for the Pacific Islands Salesians. With the accompaniment and help of the Rector Major and his council there is bright future for the Australia – Pacific province, also with a necessary sending of some confreres from other provinces. Rector Major encouraged the provincial leadership to concentrate the efforts in the new frontiers of the Youth Ministry and Salesian youth movement. The Rector Major highly appreciated also a great contribution to the EAO formation through the service of Clifton Hill Formation house.
Last appointment of the day for the Rector Major was an interview for the “Australian Salesian Bulletin” what celebrates its 60th anniversary. Its editor Fr. Frank Freeman asked about the fruits of the ‘coming-to-know’ experience of this visit, about the main impressions, about the future of Don Bosco in the Australia-Pacific as well about the encouraging signs noticed during the visit. At the end Fr. Ángel was asked to share three messages to the 10.000+ readers of the Bulletin.