Four new provincials (ITM – Fr. Virgilio Da Silva, FIS – Fr. Godofredo Atienza, VIE Fr. Joseph Nguyen Van Quang and MYM – Fr. Charles Saw) joint by one provincial after mid-term of his service of authority (THA – Fr. Paul Prasert) spent about one week in the General house invited by the Rector Major (March 25-31). During this time they prayed together with the Pisana community and had a good time with the general council during their meal times. Prayers after meal were held in Tetum, Thai, Vietnamese, English or Tagalog. Present were all five councilors of the sectors (Formation, Youth ministry, Social communication, Missions and Economy), the Vicar – Fr. Francesco Cereda and the Rector Major.
Main reason for calling them shortly after the appointment (two of them still didn’t start their term of service) was the desire of the Rector Major to accompany more closely all 90 provincials of the Congregation. The new scheme consists of this initial meeting with first personal encounter, getting know each other and sharing the main guidelines for the new provincial based on the knowledge about his province from the consultation or direct knowledge of the extraordinary visitation study in the council. Second encounter with the Rector major is envisioned during the 10 days-long new provincial course (usually 12 months after starting his office), followed by the Team Visit meeting with each provincial and his council. Eventually the fourth personal encounter happens at the mid-term of the 6 year period with a joint evaluation. This new way of closer accompaniment is formally signed by the ‘Road Map’ (usually 12 main points) for the new provincial and his councilr which is handed over personally before leaving back after this first meeting to his own province.
Usually the Regional Councilors are present during these days. 2 hours long encounter with the Rector major is followed by similar meeting with the Vicar of the RM and other five councilors of the sectors. Really it was very intense and fruitful period.
Since half of the EAO provincials were together, also some meaningful inter-provincial ventures, mutual help were discussed among them. During the installation of the next two provincials in Cebu (FIS, April 11) and Ho Chi Min City (May 27) will be probably present also some other provincials, which is not common in our vast region. So this encounter with the Rector Major fosters also the EAO regional solidarity as well.
Since this encounters happen accidentally also during the General Council study about the East Asia – Oceania region, the synergy of knowledge and confrontation at the spot helped both happenings.
For some of them it was the ever first time in Rome – apart of the main ‘business’ they dedicated their time to pilgrimage to the Vatican basilica of St. Peter or other Holy Places, meeting their confrere – students at the Salesian University (UPS), participation in the Palm Sunday Mass with the Diocesan Youth Day presided by Pope Francis or even for one of them having lunch with the Vatican SDB community followed by the short unforgettable meeting with Pope emeritus Benedict XVI.
We wish all four new provincials daily opening to the Holy Spirit and to the confreres!
By Fr Vaclav Klement