Superior General’s Newsletter – 1 – October 2006

Introductory Remarks

I am writing this letter a few days after having arrived here in Rome. I had wished to write it while I was still in Brazil. But I know that I can count on your good will to understand the motives for my delay.

There are many reasons that made me decide to live here in the Via Dandolo, 49. As I expressed in Fockenfeld, on  the 5th of August, my desire is to accept the will of God and to dedicate myself to its fulfillment. I wish to express at this time my deep gratitude to all the confreres who have manifested their support and encouragement. In a special way, I wish to thank all of you for your remembrances, which I know are not lacking in your daily prayer. They are what I need most. I firmly believe in the effectiveness of prayer. Beyond keeping us in constant search for God’s will, prayer causes our bonds of union and fraternity to increase.

At the beginning of this new service for the Congregation I felt myself moved to take another look at our Spiritual Directory. The Preface’s strong words have always drawn my attention. I remember that some years ago, our confrere Deacon Marcos Siefermann, reflecting on the Preface of the Directory emphasized its prophetical connotation. The Preface is marked with biblical texts that are God’s instructions to the prophets. Their inclusion discloses the prophetic dimension of our life as Oblates. I like to think that we are called to be prophets. Prophets have always been strong individuals: strong in their living in union with God; strong in their struggling to search for the will of God and being faithful to Him; strong in facing adversities; strong in denouncing; strong in proclaiming; strong in testifying  with  their personal life.

The text of the Preface was written originally by St. Francis de Sales for the Constitutions of the Sisters of the Visitation. In it our holy patron disclosed the spirit that he desired to reign in the hearts of the Sisters. The fact of this text is at the beginning of our Spiritual Directory indicates that the desire of the Founder of the Visitandines and our Patron applies to us as well. “I ask you, my sons, nay rather I beg and exhort you, be strong, firm, persevering, unchanging… so that nothing may separate you from Jesus Christ”.

Let us not fear to be Oblates. Let us not fear to be prophets. Never let us tire in placing our feet on the path pointed out in the Preface of the Directory

The Congregation’s Missionary Character

I am writing this letter in the month dedicated to the missions. I thank God that we are intrinsically a missionary congregation. In recent years we have tried to renew our genuine spirit missionary. Discussion on the missions was present during the last few General Chapters. I believe as well that in each Province and Region the subject of the missions has come back into our discussions. This at least was my personal experience in the (still) South American Region.

Our intrinsic missionary dimension continuously makes us feel challenged: challenged to a constant openness to the necessities of the Church and the current world; challenged to a continual readiness to reshape ourselves, to take new paths, to set out for new Areopagus.  To achieve this requires a continual process of personal openness and discernment through a constant search for the will of God. This process touches deeply within us because it leads us to feel in our own flesh, what it means to totally and solely trustful of Him.

It is good to remember that we have a patron who, at the beginning of his fruitful priestly life, faced the strong challenge of being a missionary in the Chablais. It is good to remind ourselves that our founder, Fr. Louis. Brisson, from the beginning, sent us to the four corners of the world. It is good to keep before us, in gratitude, the many confreres who throughout our history have given their lives in the foreign missions, facing the challenges of a new culture and new reality. It is upon their shoulders that we stand and are able to move on to what God asks of us at this historical moment.

In our recent General Chapter the subject of the missions was in strong evidence. Among the decisions taken by General Chapter  was the call for all the Provinces and Regions to place within their formation programs orientation on “the missionary character of the Congregation”.

The Gospel reading for this October‘s World Mission Sunday is well suited for us at this historical moment. It can serve as a light and a source of discernment for all Oblates as missionaries. But in special way, it is a light for our confreres who are in the foreign missions, and for the various confreres who, as is published at the end of this letter, are assuming specific services in the Congregation. In this Gospel reading Mark describes the moment when Jesus and his disciples are “on their way” up to Jerusalem. We know what this meant for Jesus personally at that moment. He was approaching the moment of giving up, fully and totally, His own life. Interiorly he was prepared for this. He had cultivated constantly an interior dynamic that enabled him to completely give himself up. Of another hand, we see in this same reading that the apostles were using another interior dynamic- one very different and even opposed to that of Jesus. James and John, Zebedee’s sons, manifested their desire to be placed “one on the right and another on the left” of Jesus when he entered into his glory. This reveals that they were going along with Jesus to be in the center of things, to be noticed and to be applauded by the multitudes. There were miles of distance between what was happening in Jesus’ heart and what was happening in that of  the apostles. The reading notes that the disciples “were astonished” and “with fear”. This astonishment and fear disclose a heart ill prepared to follow Jesus freely and radically. “To follow” signifies to place our feet where Jesus had placed his, to love as he loved, to think as he thought, to live as he lived, to have a heart as he had. No one is capable of maintaining himself in this dynamic without a constant life of union with God. I know that so basic Salesian principle about the priority of the interior life does not sound strange to our ears. Only the daily cultivation of a life in union with God enables us to overcome the shocks and fears that life places before us. Jesus is very clear: “But it shall not be like this among you, for whosoever desires to make himself great among you shall be your servant; and whosoever of you that desires to be first shall be servant of all..” (Mark 10,43-44).
This text serves as a mirror for all of us. It is not exclusive for those among us who are serving in the foreign missions. Nor is it applicable only to those among us who are assuming new services in the Congregation. We all are on “the way”. And it is by walking the walk that one’s true motivations are disclosed. It is on the walk that we disclose what is our inner dynamic. It is on the walk that we disclose whether or not we interiorly identify ourselves more with Jesus or with the apostles. It is on the walk that we disclose the degree and the intensity of our self-surrender to God.

We know that these same apostles, who until that moment were seeking their own self -interest, became capable, after the death and resurrection of the Master, to take the same step that Jesus already had taken. They also gave their lives for God, freely carrying and taking Good New to “all peoples”. In the same way God never gives up on us. He always invites us anew to a fuller, more authentic and definitive consecration to Him in the service of the Church. Following the invitation of St. Francis de Sales, let us begin again anew each day along this path.

Nominations for Various Services in the Congregation

Assistant Superior General - I am happy to announce, that the Fr. Konrad Esser, of the German Province, has accepted the role of being my Assistant. I know that this is going to mean many changes in Fr. Konrad’s day to day work. He already is known by many of us for his love for the Congregation expressed in various services that he has given to his Province and also to Congregation as a whole.

The Fourth General Councilor - I have the satisfaction to announce that the Fr. Koos Walters, a member of the Keimoes Region, South Africa and current Master of Scholastics has been invited to be the member the General Council nominated by the General Superior. He has accepted, and already is part of the General Council’s team.

General Procurator - Fr. Mark Mealey, of the Wilmington/Philadelphia Province has been nominated to continue in the function of Procurator General, in accordance with the Constitution Number 286.

General Treasurer and his Assistant – Fr. Robert Mancini, of the Wilmington/Philadelphia Province will continue as our General Treasurer, and Fr. Konrad Esser, of the German Province, as his Assistant.

Postulator – For many years now, our confrere from the Italian Province, Fr. Emilio Testa, has exercised the function of Postulator of the Cause of Canonization of our founder, Fr. Louis Brisson. Considering his advanced age, and also the limitations brought on by his present state of health, the General Council, since the start of its term, has worked on finding a confrere to assist Fr. Testa in this work.  We have found that person in Fr. Thomas Dailey of the Wilmington-Philadelphia Province who is willing to assist with this task. It is clearly understood that the name of a future Postulator will have to be submitted to the Congregation of Causes of Saints of the Holy See. In any case, we are working on this in the General Council. In the meantime, I would like to invite each and every one to continue their prayers for the beatification of our founder, Fr. Louis Brisson.

General Mission Coordinator - Fr. Josef Költringer has been confirmed in his function as General Missions Coordinator. He is presently living in the Philippines, undertaking the first steps in establishing a Oblate community in that country. Let us pray that the service of Fr. Költringer in this function bears much fruit for the good of the Congregation and all the Church.

International Commission for Salesian Studies (ICSS) - The Statutes of the International Commission for Salesian Studies, reviewed e approved in August of 2005, envisioned, in Section 2, Article Number 1, that the Commission be made up four Oblates. The wish that is transparent in the Statutes is that the languages spoken in the Congregation be represented, as much as possible by the four members of the Commission. So far the Commission has had three members: Fr. Joseph F. Chorpenning (coordinating); Fr. Herbert Winklehner and Fr. Dirk Koster. I am very happy to communicate that Fr. Valdir. Formentini has agreed to become the fourth member of this Commission. I am thankful to Fr. Valdir for his willingness and readiness in accepting this service, that, certainly, beyond enriching the Commission itself, will also make it  possible that the services of this Commission reach a much larger public.

I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks, not only in my name but also in the name of all the members of General Council, for the readiness and spirit of service of all those who have agreed to assume the above services. Such attitudes manifest the love that each one has for the Congregation and the Church. I would like to thank as well the Regional/ Provincial superiors of each of these Oblates, for allowing their members to serve. Let us pray so that all these efforts are rewarded with abundant fruits.

Chablais Mission Fund

As we know, during the administration of my predecessor, Fr. Lewis Fiorelli the creation of the Chablais Mission Fund was begun. The recent General Chapter decided that two Commissions are to be established in relation to Fund. The task of the first Commission is to gather financial resources and to manage the Fund; second commission is charged with the distribution of the Funds. The General Council is presently working on both the nomination of the members the commissions, as well as the definition of the policies that will guide each commission. Fr.. Joseph Morrissey, Provincial of the Wilmington-Philadelphia Province will co-ordinate the first Commission, and the Fr. Josef Költringer, General Coordinator of the Missions, will coordinate the second Commission. In the future I hope to share with you more information on both these commissions. For present time, I ask each one of you to keep our confreres involved in these two commissions in your prayers.

Decisions of the General Chapter and their Implementation

I believe that, by this time, two documents are already available to you. One is the Minutes of the 18th General Chapter, and the other contains the decisions that were taken by the Chapter. These two documents give a notion as to what happened in Chapter, and present various challenges that we have ahead of us for next the six years. on the differing levels of Congregation Evidently it would be well for each confrere to become aware of the decisions of the General Chapter. In the spirit of what is envisioned  in Constitution 312, Number 2, I ask that in each Province and Region these decisions of the General Chapter be discussed and implemented according to situation of the Province or Region.

I can tell you that the General Council has already begun reflecting on the different subjects that the General Chapter has charged it with. As you can see, some steps already have been taken. I hope to, in future Letters, supply more information on the steps taken relative to what the General Council has been charged to implement. Obviously, with some of these, the General Council will need help from the members of the Provinces and Regions. But it comforts to me to be able to count on the generosity and the readiness of our confreres and of the Major Superiors, as has been evidenced already, on different occasions.

Renovation of Fr. Brisson’s House in Plancy

Through the Superior General of the Oblate Sisters, Madre Françoise Bernadette, we became aware of the advance state of deterioration of Fr. Brisson’s house, in Plancy, which, for us, is a precious inheritance from our founder. It urgently needs repairs. The Oblate Sisters have taken the initiative to renovate it. Since it is the patrimony that interests both the Oblates Sisters and Oblates Fathers, Mother General of the Sisters asked us to contribute financially. The General Council decided to send this request on to the major superiors.

I have been informed by the General Treasurer and his Assistant that once again the confreres have shown, in a very concrete way, their generosity. I know that help has been given by several Provinces and Regions, and also by individual Oblate communities. In my name and the name of the members of the General Council, I wish to express with all my heart, our deepest gratefulness to all of you. Our Good God, who knows the heart each of us, will certainly reward each one for his generosity.

Major Superiors Meeting and Salesian Conference

One of the decisions of the General Chapter was to accept the invitation of the De Sales University, in the United States, with the object of sponsoring an “Oblate Leadership Conference”. With this in mind, we have begun programming, for the next year, the holding of the Meeting of the Major Superiors and the Leadership Conference, around one another. This Leadership Conference will also be open to other religious, laypersons or persons associated with our Salesian family. The Major Superiors’ meeting and the Leadership Conference are scheduled to be held at the end of July and the beginning of August 2007.

The Major Superiors will soon be receiving additional information about the Leadership Conference and the Major Superiors’ Meeting.

General directory and Necrology

Presently Mr. Hans Angleitner, associated with our school in Dachsberg, Austria, has been updating our General Directory, located on the Internet page Mr. Hans Angleitner has agreed to continue with this important service for the Oblates. Each month Hans updates this internet page. Therefore, whenever Region alters its information with respect to the membership of its Province, I ask it to please send the alterations to Mr. Hans Angleitner, at the following electronic address: To you, Hans, our most sincere expression of gratitude. God bless you!


In the coming days, from the 1st until the 9th of November, I will be visiting the members of the Italian Province. From the 10th until the 25th I will be making a Canonical Visit to the French Province, since the mandate of the Provincial, Fr. Michel Tournade, expires in January of 2007. My visit will initiate with Benin. The Fr. Sebastian Leitner will accompany  me on these visits. In December, from the 7th until the 12th, I will be visiting the confreres in Monaco. In January of the next year, from the 22nd to the 29th, I will be visiting the members of the future South American Province, in the south of Brazil. On the 30th, 31st of January, and 1st of February the General Council will meet in Carazinho, Brazil. On the 2nd and 3rd of February The Brazilian  Chapter will choose its new government, the first of the new Province. The solemn celebration of change of status from Region to Province will take place on the February 3rd in Palmeira das Missões, Brazil. From February 4th until the 10th there will be a  trip to the places where we Oblates have worked in the state of the Rio Grande Do Sul since our arrival in these lands in 1906. At this very special historical moment of our presence in the South America our entire Congregation will be well represented. So far the presence of all the Provincials (or their representatives) from the Provinces that throughout the 100 years, have sent Oblates to the South America has been confirmed. Also, the General Council will be present and other members of the Congregation. It will be, without a doubt, a significant event of thanksgiving. Let us pray that the passage from Region to Province renews in each confrere of this future Province the joy of their consecration. In the future may we see flourish the seeds that are being sown with so much persistence by the confreres of the South American Province, which has begun  to extend to the Caribbean, with the presence of  the 7 novices and 5 aspirants from Haiti now in Brazil.

In May of the 2007, I will be in Asia making the Canonical Visit to the confreres in India and the Philippines. During this visit, I will also be giving a spiritual retreat to the confreres of this missionary region. In June, July and until beginning of August I will be in the United States.  There I will participate in the Convocation of each Province, and  will begin the Canonical Visit to the Toledo-Detroit Province. At the end of July and beginning of August I will participate in the meeting Major Superiors and the Salesian Leadership Conference at De Sales University. During the second semester I will be back in the United States to conclude the Canonical Visit of the Toledo-Detroit Province, and begin the Canonical Visit to the Wilmington-Philadelphia Province. During my visits in the United States, I will usually be accompanied by the Fr. Konrad Esser.

Concluding Remarks

I would like to end my first letter to you, my esteemed brothers, taking advantage of the beautiful words directed by the Apostle St. Paul to the community at Ephesus. In truth, what we have in these words is a prayer of Paul for this community. It is, as well, my prayer for each one you at this moment:

May (Our Lord) according to the riches of his glory grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.


Fr. Aldino José Kiesel, osfs
Superior General