On the second day of first historical visit of the Rector Major to New Zealand, Auckland, there are many motivations for dream about bright future of the Salesian Charism.
Very lively exchange during the courtesy visit of Fr. Ángel to Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn (May 13) highlighted all important aspects of our future in New Zealand. Bishop Pat, who does admire Don Bosco from his childhood, is happy to help the first Salesians in solid foundation of the Salesian Charism in this country.
‘I’m delighted to welcome Fr. Ángel Fernandez Artime, SDB – Rector Major to the Diocese of Auckland. St. John Bosco had stated while sending the first missionary expedition: “Let us place our little pebble in the great edifice of the Church.” The Salesian presence in West Auckland at Massey and Avondale brings the beautiful charism of St. John Bosco to us who live very literally at ‘the end of the earth’. Don Bosco was a man of action. He liked the statement that ‘Jesus began to do before he began to teach.’ He believed that holiness consisted in ‘being very happy and in performing our duties as perfectly as possible.’ His first concern always was for the young: ‘The young should know that they are loved.” I commend first concern the lay group for collaborating with the Salesians in organizing a meaningful visit for the Rector Major and I’m sure he will treasure his visit to our Diocese, especially to West Auckland, where the young often remind me: The West if the Best!’ + Patrick Dunn, Bishop of Auckland (from NZ Catholic, May 3-16)
Bishop Pat shared with Rector Major his love and respect for the Saint of the Young people, for Pope Francis and his strong call for pastoral conversion, as well the different hope and struggles of his diocese. It was one of the high points of the three weeks long visit of RM to the six countries of Oceania.
Indeed Bishop Pat has chosen for us the most popular and most Pacific islanders populated West Auckland place (with the cheapest housing prize around the whole Auckland). Avondale and Massey are not very far from each other. The huge percentage of young people in both parishes and the astonishing variety of ethnic background is a guarantee of great future for the hardworking and youth loving Salesians of different origins working together.
Auckland is the most religious city in the overall very secularized New Zealand (more than Australia!). The diocese of Auckland has only 11 seminarians (8 different cultural background – Europe, Fiji, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Tonga, Samoa). There is a challenge of education for the second – third generation of migrant families. Catholic schools are becoming parishes for their almost entirely Catholic student population, but also is a growing difficulty to find committed and practicing Catholic teachers. In the diocese are present not less than 150 different ethnic groups of all possible religions around the world. Thus the mission for youth and migrants does match with the Charism of Don Bosco.
One 6th grade girl in our St. Paul Parish school (Massey) asked Fr. Ángel: “Rector Major, are you already 200 years old?” Yes, to help root Don Boscos charism does need time. There is a need for more Salesians from oversea. All of us are aware about the appeal of the Rector Major to the whole Congregation for the Australia-Pacific area missionaries to make possible this Pacific dream of Don Bosco. There is also a strongly felt need to form in Auckland the first groups of well identified Don Bosco Past Pupils and Salesian Cooperators. The Salesian youth movement is preparing hopefully their first ‘Kiwi Bosco’ (SYD in 2016 or 2017) and all of us are praying and working for the first Salesians ‘made in New Zealand’.