Ongoing formation is one of the necessary elements for all the Salesians in terms of growing maturity and responding profoundly to God and His call. Last weekend, the 24-27 August 2018, Fr Phil Gleeson SDB the provincial delegate for Formation and the Rector of Don Bosco Formation House, Clifton Hill organised the Annual Formation Gathering 2018 which was held at Chestnut Hill Conference Lodge, Kallista. The theme of the gathering this year was “Responding to the Call to holiness in today’s world.”
There were 15 young Salesians who came from Samoa, Fiji and Melbourne, made up of 2 young priests, 4 deacons, 8 perpetually professed clerics, and 1 perpetually brother. They were accompanied by Fr Phil Gleeson SDB and Fr Bernie Graham SDB, the vice-provincial of AUL and the provincial delegate for Youth ministry.
It was a privilege gathering this year because the key speaker was a past pupil of Don Bosco House, Melbourne: Fr Gabriel Monthon Rojanasutadkul SDB, a confrere of the Thai Province. Fr Monthon is currently the principal of Don Bosco Technological College, Bangkok. It has been around eight years since he finished his theological studies at the Catholic Theological College, East Melbourne.
In the seminars, Fr Monthon opened up and drew attention to acknowledgement and appreciation of God in his Salesian vocation as a priest. He sincerely shared his own experiences when he was living and studying in Melbourne which were full of joy and enriched by the accompaniment of his Salesian Formators. Fr Monthon invited all the participants to reflect upon their Salesian life and how we as the Salesians respond to God’s call. This reflection used the Salesian SWOT Analysis as the tool to examine and analyse our strengths and weaknesses both at a personal and community level.
Apart from the sessions from Fr Monthon which were presented creatively and intensively, Fr William Matthews SDB, the AUL provincial came along and spoke to motivate us to be good Salesian communicators. As young Salesians who have easier access to utilise social media and electronic devices, Fr William challenged us to explore how can we use social media and technology to proclaim the Good News of the Lord to young people? Fr William also reminded us of the dangers of social media if we are not using it carefully. In summary, Salesians should be wise and balanced when using social media and the main focus must be evangelisation and witness to the joy and love of God.
The annual formation gathering concluded with a reflection upon two main documents: “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation” from the Congregation from the Clergy and “Gaudete et Exultate” the Apostolic Exhortation on the Call to Holiness in today’s world by Pope Francis. This reflection was led by Fr Phil Gleeson SDB and was a time of discussion and sharing.
The annual formation gathering offered a simple structure filled with important moments of learning, sharing, and reflection. It is very important to reflect and act upon these simple components because “the Lord speaks to us in a variety of ways, at work, through others and at every moment (Gaudete et Exultate, n 171).” Apart from the key topics which were analysed and examined, this gathering also gave opportunities for the young Salesians to meet, pray together, enjoy each other’s presence, and to share stories in the joyful spirit of Don Bosco, which is our way to respond to the call to holiness.
By Deacon Anusit