The Centeral Japanese City of Hamamatsu (500.000 of population) is a home to many thousands of migrant workers, especially from Brasile and Latin American countries, Philippines, Vietnam and others.
Twenty years ago there was starting his missionary life in Japan Fr. Evaristo Higa (now 65 years young!).
Now when the Grupo do Esperanca (Hope Group) celebrates also twenty years of volunteer service to the homeless of Hamamatsu every Saturday night, we witness a flourishing multicultural community in this diocese of Yokohama, where the Japanese Catholics are (already) minority and the expats are being the driving force of the local Church.
Fr. Higa tried already two times to return back to his home province of Brasile - Sao Paolo, but unfortunately there is no other Brasilian Salesian who might to replace him. Indeed in the whole of Japan there are appartently only 7 Catholic priests from Brasile (estimate of the migrant community is about 300.000 souls!).
The exhibit of HOPE GROUPS twenty anniversary was welcomed also by the Salesian rectors meeting held for the first time in Hamamatsu (some of the rectors went for the first time, although this presence is 20 or 10 years old).
Supper and lunch were animated very nicely by the different (main 4) groups of the parish which are well working together - Japanese, Brasilian, Peruvian and Filipino. Dances of the Philippines and Peru (joined by the SDB rectors), Christmas narrative performed by the Japanese and Brasilians (camel and Magi with the 'street homeless gifts'..) were wonderful insight into this parish community soul and life.
The HOPE GROUP goes on with majority of migrant (non Japanese) Catholics and also some local non Christians who are coming together every Saturday night after the 7:30 PM Eucharist to bring some hope, food, human warm to the Hamamatsu streets homeless people.. 'You have been hungry and gave me to eat' - Jesus statement is the vision-mission of this group for past twenty years (52 x 20 weeks = more than 1000 times in the streets already).
Thanks be God for this small sign of Christian witness of solidarity and tenderness in the ocean of Japan society. A living sign that God is alive and God's people are sharing the tenderness of Christ with their brothers and sisters in need.
Seoul, 13-16 November 2014
After a succesfull 3 days meeting of 10 provincial delegates of formation (EAO 2014) and one day of break there was a very succesful 4 days of FORMATION OF FORMATORS.
Thanks to the previous hard work of the EAO mobile team (for ongoing formation) which was transformed in past few years into the EAO formation team, based in Manila-Paranaque - the smooth, organized and well thought programs on the regional level well shared.
Much appreciated were the three talks about the Profile of the authentic Salesian of Don Bosco for the 21st century - prepared by fr. Ivo - MYSTIC in the SPIRIT (RMG), fr. Mariano - PROPHET of FRATERNITY (MYM) and fr. Fung - SERVANT of the YOUNG (CIN).
Serious commitment to formation work, good consistency and continuity in formation (due to stability of formators) and open - collaborative spirit among the 28 formators was felt very much.
Main topics shared: need for well prepared spiritual guides in each province, need for more detailed path for psycho-sexual affective maturity of our formands, more systematic care about the ongoing formation (there is still some provinces without any annual regular opportunity of on-going formation - apart of annual retreat).
The presence of one Japanese novice and five Korean novices (together for few days) was very much appreciated. For the new Councilor for formation is was a precious 10 days long opportunity to experience East Asian Culture and specific formation set up of Korean province (including his talk in the Dong-Kuk University about Lonergan method thanks to his Korean friend connection).
The experience of Seoul starting with the Royal Palace, Kim Chi Festival, Cultural items upto the Myong Dong Cathedral was the bonus after the hard work of all participants on Sunday (Nov 17) afternoon...
Like Don Bosco FOR the young and WITH the young!
Australia - Melbourne, Lysterfield, Salesian Retreat House, November 10-13, 2014 - exactly 11 years after the previous Youth Ministry Delegates hosted meeting by Australia province in 2003 with Fr. Antoni Domenech (RIP).
Thanks to God a lot of growth experienced was shared during these 4 days of sharing among 25 Salesians coming from all 10 EAO provinces (=no province missing!) and with the YM Councilor and his staff from Rome.
What did we do there in the beautiful countryside with sheeps, cangaroos and cattles around Lysterfield?
1. WE HAVE STUDIED the Salesian Youth Ministry FRAMEWORK..
Already the third edition of the 'FRAMEWORK of the SALESIAN YOUTH MINISTRY' (ed. 2014) - after the 'zero' edition (cartoons of Fr. Vecchi - 1990) and 1st edition (1998-translated to most EAO languages and 2nd edition (2000 - fully translated only to Korean). Tha 350 pages book is divided in 8 chapters. Clear and pedagogical presentation in powerpoints, with workshops and sharing among all 25 Salesians.
After the period of 'RE-THINKING of the Youth Ministry' (2009-2013) which involved 8 of the 10 EAO provinces, we have fortunately already this 350 pages long 'Youth Ministry Bible' translated to Thai and almost translated to Korean and Vietnamese.. while still waiting to the Chinese and Japanese translation. At least the YM framework 'Zero edition' (1990) was recently re-edited and published in Chinese!
The fondamental questions (1) about Salesians amidst the youth (culture) ? - (2) about how to do we evangelize through our education process in all of our settings? and (3) about the pastoral-educative community building (EPC) with formation and plan (Salesian educative and pastoral plan SEPP)... were studying in depth... Presence of 2 - 3 enthusiastic Salesians from one province show already the great interest and importance of this formation for many EAO provinces!!
2. WE HAVE SHARED a lot of concern, good practices and open challenges from the 10 EAO provinces.
How difficult is to evangelize in the government subsidized schools? How difficult is to form our Lay Mission Partners when 98% of them are Budhist, Muslims or other religion believers? How can we convince? or motivate the Salesians to form with a humble and constant heart the educative and pastoral community in each setting (vs. the top-down and clerical mentality)?
Many good practices from the new frontiers of Youth Ministry were shared: coragoues steps in the Youth At Risk ministry in many provinces (juvenile prisoners or youth at probation period) - FIS province in the South Philippines and Korea, constant forming of the SDB in the Youth ministry (Korea), launching the YM for the young adults (AUL - Australia), Umbrella movement in Hong Kong (CIN)....
3. WE HAVE WITNESSED the wonderful re-birth of the Youth Ministry in Australia (meeting the young adult protagonist).
Thank to this meeting, last Tuesday we had dinner and deep sharing with some 8 young adults (and one SDB, FMA who are accompanying) of the creative and energetic expressions of the Youth Ministry in Australia: Eight youth presented the journey of past 8 years - including the participation in the World Youth Day (2008 Sydney and 2011 Spain) which included also the 'Salesian World Youth gathering' in both!
The YM Valdocco of Australia - Dromana Camp (http://www.donboscocamp.org.au) which forms for past 25 years many youth leaders - volunteers during summer camp for the young people ... with Mr. Ashley who served more than 20 years with his family as the main figure with a true Salesian heart and formed hundreds of the youth leaders. Ashley was present during all 4 days amongst us as the only Lay Mission Partners!
The birth of the Australian Missionary Volunteer movement (Cagliero Project - http://www.salesians.org.au/cagliero-project) in 2007 with formation and immersion in oversea mission places and 6-12 month long volunteer service.
The Australian Salesian Youth Mentors (http://www.salesiansisters.org.au/articles/asym-australian-salesian-youth-mentors-formation-weekend) started in 2012 as the follow up of the youth leaders of the Youth Camp in Dromana. Now there are 38 young adults with the pledge and offering services of mentoring in the Salesian (and non) schools in Australia.
Thanks to the sacrificed services of Australia Salesians and especially with fr. Bernie (YM delegate and vice-provincial) and the enthusiasm and hardwork of all YM delegates...
Beatiful sunny day in Melbourne, Clifton Hill Don Bosco House community.
Eleven Salesians from 7 different countries (Australia, Samoa + Hong Kong, Korea, Vietnam, Timor Leste and Thailand) are forming an international formation community which started slowly in 2002. St. John Parish was entrusted to the Salesians only in 2006. All of them study or teach at the ACU (Australian Catholic University) + CTC (Catholic Theological College) just 25 minutes walking distance.
Join formation commission (Australia and Pacific) in the afternoon of November 6 brought together the vibrant reality of Pacific Islanders vocations (Samoa, Fiji and Tonga) together with a new vocational spring of Australian SDB vocations, coming from the Don Bosco schools and active involvement in the Youth ministry (Cagliero project of missionary volunteers or the Australian Salesian Youth Mentor group).
Paselio is a young Samoan priest, at present in charge of prenovice and aspirant formation in Samoa (Alafua). His 2012 one year course of spiritual direction in Melbourne (Heart of Life spirituality center: http://www.heartoflife.abundance.org.au) was very helpful in his formation ministry.
During the 2hrs long formation commission meeting (formators of Australian, Vietnamese and Samoan origin, 4 priests and one Salesian Brother) shared the concern in accompaniment of numerous vocation
4 prenovices in Samoa and 1 prenovice in Melbourne
2 novices in Fiji (one Australian and 1 Samoan)
6 postnovices (2 in Samoa and 4 in Fiji: Philosophy or Education studies)
1 practical trainee in Samoa
6 theology students (1 in Fiji - from Tonga; 5 in Melbourne - 2 Timorese, 1 Indian missionary for Cambodia, 2 Thais)
With a prayer for all concerned, just few days before the EAO regional formation encounter in Korea.