AND A HUGE “THANKS” TO BOTH OF YOU, SR. LESLYE AND DON GIUSEPPE, AS YOU COMPLETE YOUR TERM OF SERVICE AS WORLD DELEGATES TO THE SALESIAN COOPERATORS!
BE SURE OF OUR GRATEFUL PRAYER
To Mr. Antonio Boccia, World Coordinator of the ASSCC and his Council
To the Delegates of the ASSCC
To all the Salesian Cooperators
I greet each of you with feelings of great gratitude for all that we have experienced during my years as a World Delegate within the Association. It is a service that has helped me grow as a Salesian and as a consecrated person: the fact of sharing the charism with you, the laity, has strengthened my vocation and broadened the horizons of our common charism, a charism that becomes even greater and more fascinating when it is shared with others, beyond one’s own condition of life, culture, and social reality.
Receive my most heartfelt thanks addressed to everyone. Still, I also want to personalize it so that it reaches the hearts of the persons whom I have encountered during this period of my life and in my mission with you.
Thanks to Mrs. Noemi Bertola and the World Council of 2012-2015 and to Mr. Antonio Boccia and the current World Council because we have walked together as a ‘team‘, with the sole objective of the growth of the Association of Salesian Cooperators (ASSCC). That was a path that constantly urged us to go beyond our personal or regional needs, to grow in our sense of belonging to a world-wide organization, and to carry forward the renewal of all the fundamental documents of the ASSCC in the light of the Project of Apostolic Life, in collegial form.
Thanks to my dear Delegates for our mutual accompaniment in these years. Thank you because I got to know sisters and brothers at all levels of the Association who give their lives to animate it in the charism. This is a task that you have taken very seriously and assumed very willingly, even while it is still necessary to help our dear Salesian Cooperators be more co-responsible and autonomous in their decisions and less dependent on us consecrated. We always remember that Don Bosco wanted “Extern Salesians”, who could respond to society and to the Church with courage and charismatic passion as committed lay people.
Thanks to each and every Salesian Cooperator who shared your life with me in simplicity along these years of animation: I found in you men and women who are in love with Christ, with the whole of humanity, and with the Salesian charism. Thank you because you have given me the opportunity to enter your local, provincial, and regional Centers. The experience of fraternity that I lived with you in every encounter that the Lord allowed me to carry out, together with the richness of your cultures and your way of living the charism in your secular reality, will remain in me forever – as will the commitment to work together as Salesian Family.
I pray that the Association will continue to grow in its sense of belonging to a world-wide reality, with a broader and more intercultural vision. May you realize the dream of an Association that strives daily to be visible and co-responsible in responding to the needs of the most vulnerable youth and families and in the socio-political realm, as good Christians and upright citizens, according to the heart of Don Bosco, so as to arrive at sanctity.
I thank you for welcoming and receiving Sr. Carmen Lucrecia Uribe with affection. She will live this obedience with great joy and availability. I ask you to accompany her fraternally as she gradually comes to understand the Association more and more.
I remain at your disposal and offer you my prayer for you and for your families during this difficult time that we are all living in the various parts of the world. May Mary Help of Christians protect you always.
Diriá – Nicaragua, 24 maggio 2020
With great affection,
Sr. Leslye Sándigo Ortega
Dear Salesian Cooperators,
After 8 years of service to the Association, I would like to greet you with the same dignity and love with which I have lived these years. For me they have been years of grace and great human and spiritual wealth. I met people strong in their faith in Christ, aware of their baptismal and Salesian vocation, women and men in love with Don Bosco and fully involved in the Salesian mission. Their witness was for me a great gift that leaves a profound mark on my life. I have met these Salesian Cooperators on the six continents and with significant moments that I want to remember.
First of all, I attended the 2012 World Congress where the Project of Apostolic Life was definitively approved. The approval of this book of life was a historic moment for the whole Association, and from there the commitment was born to present the PVA in all the Regional Congresses, together with the Charter of the Charismatic Identity of the Salesian Family. Together with these fundamental documents, we have developed and presented on all continents the other documents that form the backbone of our Association: the Commentary; Guidelines and Indications for the Formation of the Salesian Cooperators; the Criteria of Animation and Governance; and the Animating Economic Solidarity (ASE).
With Sister Leslye we visited many African countries. From these visits came the idea of convening a Regional Congress in Addis Abeba. For Africa, it was a historic moment because following that Congress the decision was made to create two linguistic zones: one for Anglophone Africa and one for Francophone Africa. This choice of animation, confirmed in the Congress of Nairobi, signaled a good moment of growth for the Association on that great continent.
I am happy to leave an association that is growing in the sense of belonging and communion. Together with Sr. Leslye, we have attested to these values in which I firmly believe. We shared joys, sufferings and dreams together. We felt and really acted as brother and sister. We always experienced this same communion on the World Council. I thank each of you personally, but especially Noemi for her wise, maternal, and generous service. Thanks also to Antonio for the courage with which he took over the Association. I can’t help thanking Giuseppe. We spent many moments together and I have always admired his generosity made of simplicity and friendliness. A true model of an authentic Salesian Cooperator.
But perhaps the most fruitful period of my service was the year of my chemotherapy. Suddenly discovering that you have lymphoma is a bad surprise for anyone, even for a priest. It is an unexpected and unwelcome guest. It changes your life. One suddenly moves from an active life, made of commitments and travel, to a passive life. One must submit a protocol that does not leave much room for what used to be usual occupations. Even for a priest it is not easy to handle this time that seems “lost” and which ought to be removed at all costs. In faith, I decided to transform that sterile isolation into fruitful solitude. Thus silence became a place of dialogue with God and with myself so I could return to what is essential, to rediscover the laws of the soul and the center of life which is always threatened by dispersion and fragmentation. During that time I offered my sufferings for the Salesian Family and for the Association. I felt close to Jesus who saved humanity through his Passion and Death.
At this point I believe I have given it all: love, service, and suffering. These are also the gifts that I leave to the Association and to my successor to whom I wish the same blessings I have received.
I thank all those who have accompanied me during these years and I shall gather together all your “thanks” in the Eucharistic celebration, the heart of the Church and of the Salesian Family, so as to render a unique “THANK YOU” to God the Father who sustains us with love on the journey that continues, even if in different directions.
May Mary Help of Christians accompany the Association of Salesian Cooperators. At the right moment during this pandemic – a time when the mission field among young people seems even more difficult and arid – the Madonna of difficult times will make it rain and will make flowers spring up in the soil drenched by the sweat of our labors.
Fraternally in Don Bosco
Don Giuseppe Casti