BIS #6293 Formation Councillor Father Ivo Coelho meets 'quinquennial' MumbaiSalesians

by Father Mylin Noronha for BISMumbai

The 25 MumbaiSalesians' young priests and brothers in the quinquennium of on-going formation, gathered at Matunga, for their annual animation, interacted with the General Councillor for Formation-Father Ivo Coelho on day two.

Father Coelho began his session by listening to the young Salesians share their experience of the first few years of active ministry as priests and perpetually professed brothers. He acknowledged the growth in experience and maturity that he noticed in the Salesians, many of whom he knew personally during their years of initial formation.

Based on the sharing, Father Coelho invited them to reflect on three aspects. He began by comparing the period of the quinquennium of their ministry to the quinquennium of the priestly ministry of Don Bosco. He said, "Don Bosco spent the first three years of his priesthood at the Convitto Ecclesiastico where along with moral theology, canon law and pastoral experience, he was taught to reflect on his ministry." He further added that every Salesian ought to imitate Don Bosco in reflecting on their ministry, and this should be done in faith. Quoting article 119 of the Salesian Constitutions, he encouraged the young Salesians to listen to the voice of the Spirit while immersed in the apostolate, in the midst of the poor.

Clarifying that the pastoral ministry for a Salesian is much more than merely the administration of the sacraments, he said, “Don Bosco began a new way of being priests and religious, which included the practice of the evangelical counsels, to be necessarily living in community and participating in the mission. He emphasised the primacy of the Christian vocation to be Alter Christus. He stated that ministerial priesthood was thus, secondary, and an office of service, and not dominance.

Father Coelho then encouraged the young Salesians to offer accompaniment to young people, while also seeking accompaniment from a spiritual guide, for themselves. He reminded the young Salesians that Don Bosco had the gift of counsel, and was a guide to many young people, yet, he also sought guidance from Father Joseph Cafasso, his spiritual guide. Father Coelho reiterated, "along with the sacrament of reconciliation, spiritual direction is extremely important for every Salesian to grow during the period of on-going formation"

Finally, Father Coelho responded to the various queries, that included diverse topics: the vocation of the Salesian Brother, non-Salesians as spiritual guides, issues faced by young Salesians in the area of affectivity, and maintaining one’s identity as educator-pastors in the digital world.

The grateful young Salesians were happy to be inspired by the General Councillor for Formation.