Closing the annual retreat of 30 members of the Province at the Salesian Retreat House at Lysterfield, Victoria, Australia on 9 July, over 50 Salesians gathered for the celebration of the Province Day. We no longer celebrate the Provincial in this Province, but the Province itself. The preceding retreat had been an outstanding presentation to the SDB’s by Sister Edna Mary Macdonald, FMA, of the life and person of Maria Mazzarello, and her communication of the Salesian charism. The feature of the celebration was a concelebrated Eucharist, presided over by the outgoing Provincial, Fr Frank Moloney, in the presence of the incoming Provincial, Fr Greg Chambers. As well as Salesians from Australia, there was a representative from the Pacific, two Sisters from different Salesian families, and a group of young Brothers from the Region, currently in formation in Australia.
Fr Moloney spoke of the importance, on this day when we celebrated Jubilees, to look closely to our present and future. In the light of the biblical readings for the celebration of Don Bosco (Ezekiel, Philippians and Matthew), he spoke of the need to look beyond strategic planning, to the Word of God, to reflection on the mystery of God among us, and our Salesian tradition. With the help of the just completed retreat, he used the Letters of Maria Mazzarello, he asked for courage, joy, and the profound humanity that marks our tradition, no matter where we are and what we are doing.
The Eucharist was followed by a celebratory meal, at which all the Jubilarians were celebrated. In the Australia-Pacific Province we formally celebrate those who have been Salesians or Priests for 60, 50, 40 and 25 years. This year we would have also had a Salesian for 75 years and a Priest for 65 years, Fr Alan MacDonald. However, he left us for a better place in February. Bro Michael Lynch spoke eloquently of the achievements (and some of the weaknesses!) of each of the Jubilarians, and raised a toast to them. Fr Lawrie Moate responded in the name of all the Jubiliarians in a profound and touching reflection on our past, present and future that caught many of the ideas that the Provincial had addressed at the Eucharist.
As well as the more solemn events, a trio made up of three of the Jublilarians (Frs Lawrie Moate, John Papworth and Frank Moloney – all 50 years Salesians in 2011) sang a specially composed song about the joys of being elderly!