Superior General’s Newsletter – 12 – April 2011

Our Spiritual Directory and our Mission as Oblates of Sales in the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities
Second Part

My Dear Brothers,

The phenomenon of globalization has brought everything closer to us. The drama of the Japanese people after the earthquake and tsunami has also become our drama. We enjoy technological resources today which continually bring more facilities to mankind. At the same time, this “progress”poses a real threat of our own self-destruction. The earth groans in pain, before devastation without limits. Today we are facing serious environmental, moral and pastoral issues: the phenomenon of migration, issues of inculturation and ethnic diversity. Consecrated life has not been left untouched by these issues.

It is time to discern, patiently searching, in dialogue and openness for the presence of seeds of the Kingdom of God in each new situation. We are in a time of new possibilities, trusting that the Spirit will make all things new.

Many basic values that many of us experienced while growing up, simply no longer exist. To newer generations these values ​​are unknown. It seems we are living between a yesterday that no longer exists, and a tomorrow that is still unknown. We are in contact with multiple, and often conflicting social, ethical, cultural and religious positions.  Therefore, it is normal under such circumstances, to experience fear, stress, exaggeration, or even to feel confronted with situations in which we feel totally lost.

We experience these challenges that originate from outside of us, coming from of the world in which we live and work. But we also face situations that originate from within the Congregation. We face many challenges: the advancing age of many brothers, the challenge of vocations, community life, our lifestyle, etc.

Here I wish to share with you some reflections on these challenges that we are facing and the opportunities that they offer us.

1 - "For me to live is Christ"

We all remember the drama of the 33 Chilean miners. In last October they were rescued, one by one after 69 days of anguish, 700 meters below the earth's surface. Their only means of survival was through a boring, 10 cm in diameter. Through this opening, they received everything: food, water, counseling, spiritual assistance, etc. Without this contact they would not have survived.

In crisis times, it is good to look at the past and learn the lessons of history. Great men and women who impacted on the religious life in times of crisis and thereby aided in its renewal, were people of God. That is to say, they were persons who, through their life of union with God, were able to be a renewing presence. They were convinced that we receive everything from God : food, life, strength, faith, and life's meaning. All is gift. Without God we are not able to build anything lasting. “If the Lord does not build the house, its builders toil in vain" (Psalm 127:1). The motivating source of life and missionary activity of the apostle Paul was his conviction that "for me to live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21). In Salesian terms, the bottom line is that Jesus lives in our hearts, and consequently his presence is made manifest in our everyday actions.

2 - Do not lose track

The capabilities of technology have brought many facilities in our daily life. But it is certainly in the area of communication that we feel the greatest advances: computer, internet, etc. How can we maintain fidelity to the will of God in the midst of all this?  Francis de Sales' story about the hound in the Treatise, Book 9, Chp. II, comes to my mind. The dog ran after the hare, overcomes obstacles, hills, distance: nothing distracts him from the hunt. However, in this hunt there is hidden a real risk. Imagine for a moment, warns the author, a enormous garden filled with the most diverse and appealing scents of spring. The hare enters and dashes through the garden. The dog enters right behind. But on entering the garden, the hunter senses the flowers' and vegetation's aromas and begins to pass from one side to another, seeking the most pleasant scent. Without realizing it, he has stopped chasing the hare. He has lost his prey. And what caused him to loose his prey were not the difficulties of the hunt, but those pleasant garden scents!

This little story might help us to reflect on our own personal life as Oblates. Always, at every stage of life, we would do well to ask ourselves if our lives are on the track laid out for us by God.

3 - Thirst of spirituality

Although there is a growing number of those who say do not belong to any formal religion, there is also the phenomenon of an increasing number of movements strongly identified with a spiritual experience. There is a thirst for spirituality. At times the expressions of spirituality are often diffuse, volatile, and uncertain. Other times they are in the service of personal or group interests, unrelated to the true meaning of Christian faith. They can be used foster ideologies of radical or extremist groups.
It is precisely in the field of spirituality that we as Oblates have something special to offer.  Salesian spirituality is strong, consistent and a proven way of life. Proof of this can been witnessed in Francis' own life as Bishop of Geneva and in the lives of many other people who, over the past four centuries, have let themselves be captivated by this way of living. The Introduction to the Devout Life presents a safe and effective method of following Christ. It does not simply present a theory about spirituality but offers a method that produced saints. It is a spirituality solidly grounded on the Gospel, with a clear purpose and a proven method that leads to holiness of life to which we all are called. This is a central premise in the teachings of Francis de Sales.

4 - Overcoming fundamentalism

Today contact with people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds is on the rise. The same phenomenon may be seen in community life. Living in community by consecrated persons of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds presents a real challenge. One can add as well, differences in personalities and each one's personal history. One result is the risk of fundamentalism, that is expressed in many ways, and often is radicalized so as to hinder community life. This phenomenon is manifested also in the Church and, as well, in relationships within a country or between countries. Fundamentalism is the cause of many wars, past and present.

Fundamentalist groups are generally closed to any dialogue. The Salesian doctrine, on the other hand, enables us to be effective witnesses to the novelty and power of the Gospel. All severity and extremism are far from the spirit of the Bishop of Geneva. As we know, the radicalism of his doctrine is the power of love. We have the principles to positively influence people and groups who have absolutist tendencies, both within and outside the Church. We should be able to help overcome wars of exclusion, intolerance and imposition of 'My truth vs. your truth', 'My God against your God,' 'My moral against your moral.’

5 - The Spiritual Directory before our eyes and our hands

Our particular instrument to deepen our own identity is the Spiritual Directory.
The word dispersion ('spreading') possesses a positive sense when speaking of our mission, because it brings the idea of ​​bringing the Good News to the whole world. However, when referring to our identity, dispersion has a negative sense, connoting the idea of ​​breaking up, fragmentation. A seed has a defined genetic identity, which enables it to generate new life. Cultivating one's own identity should never be left as something less than a priority in our daily life as Oblates. The effectiveness of our mission in the Church is closely linked to our faithfulness to our identity.

"Let its words remain day and night before your eyes that you may meditate on them and in my hands that you may put them into practice” (Preface). The eyes are the mind's entrance way. Images are resources used by the communication industry to exercise their influence and power. It is not without value to reflect on this point: where are my eyes? We may affirm: where are our eyes, there is our heart. Let the Directory be before our eyes. But it is not only this that we are asked to do. We must also have it in our hands, so that all our work be guided by it. The Directory guides our way when we have it before our eyes, and guides our actions when we have it in our arms.

6 - Teachings of the Gospel

The Gospels bring two convictions which, in my view, are necessary and must be present when discussing renewal of consecrated life:  life in union with God and commitment to the poor. A life in union with God makes us experts in humanity, as was Jesus himself. Identifying with Jesus leads to serving the needy, with whom Jesus identifies himself.

I conclude by recalling a reflection of the Pope a few weeks ago. In a meeting with the priests of the diocese of Rome, Benedict XVI spoke of the "drowsiness of the good." In the Garden of Olives, the apostles slept; Judas, however, was wide awake during the passion.  Pope Pius XI had already used this image affirming: "The great problem of our times are not negative forces but drowsiness of the good." And Benedict XVI encouraged the priests: "Let us try not to sleep now in our time, but let us be fully ready for the will of God and open to the presence of his Word and his Kingdom."

If we are faithful to our mission as Oblates then certainly we will remain awake. The Spiritual Directory does not allow us to fall into drowsiness. In whatever our chronological age, let us stay awake, alert and active in our witness as Oblates.

                               Cause of the Venerable Founder: Theological Meeting

As we know, last February the medical experts acknowledged that the healing of the Ecuadorian boy Carlitos, that occurred in 1953, is not explainable from the standpoint of medical science. The next step in the process will be a meeting of theologians from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. They will discuss the healing, and will give their position as Theologians.

The Postulator, Sr. Madeleine-Thérèse Dechambre, informed me that the theologians' meeting is scheduled for June 7, 2011. They will have available to them a document called "Positio Super Miro," which contains all the documented information on the healing and the position of doctors.

Let us continue praying with confidence for the beatification of our Founder. In case of receiving a positive opinion of theologians, the next step would be the formal opinion of the members of the full Congregation. In case of recognition by the Congregation of the miracle, the final word, of course, is that of the Holy Father.

                                                               Our website

The information contained on our website ( is always updated by Hans Angleitner, whom we are immensely grateful for the important service to the congregation.

I wish to remind all the provinces / regions / Missions to update Hans Angleitner about any new statistical information or change of information on the status of members (novices, temporary and perpetual professions, ordinations, deaths, etc.).
I know many of you are sending the new information regularly to Mr Angleitner.  However, it is evident that some data need to be updated. It would be good if in each unit of the congregation there were someone in charge of providing this service. In this way, we all will benefit from the updated information provided on our website. Thank you all for kindly providing these statistics.

                                                   Formation - Page on the Internet

The name of the website dedicated to formation has been changed from  to
The first step needed to access the new site is to “Create an account” (click on the link on the left side). A frame will appear. Complete the information requested, following the instructions. You will be asked for an e-mail address and further instructions will be sent to the address which you give. To confirm your registration, open your email program, and follow instructions in the e-mail message.
If anyone needs help in taking these steps, Mr. Hans Angleitner (e-mail: j.angleitner @ is available to help. To facilitate this, please have available the ID (username) and password that you want to use.
By accessing this page you will have access to documents presented during the Workshop on Formation (novitiate) held last year in Fockenfeld.
I wish to thank, on behalf of our confreres, Fr. Ken McKenna and Fr. Lewis Fiorelli for their work in keeping current the information on this website. It is a source of great help in formation, especially for the novitiate year.

                                                                 Name Change

The South American Province has been renamed the South American and Caribbean Province. The reason for this change is simple: the province's mission in Haiti has been added to the name of the province. This decision was taken by the members of the Provincial Chapter, and ratified by the Superior General and his Council.

                                                                Funds Transfer

The administration of the German Speaking Province has decided to transfer all funds from the provincial Mission Procurator Fund to Chablais Mission Fund. Some of the funds are dedicated funds either to the Southern African Region, the Indian Mission or South American and Caribbean Province. These recipients will continue access to these funds in the manner and time they wish. Another part of the money is "no dedicated": it will be added to the total in the Chablais Fund. Legal procedures must be still executed to bring about such a transfer operation.

On behalf of all the Oblates, I thank the Rev. Thomas Vanek and his council for this decision. I thank, above all, the love for the missions demonstrated so many times in the past by members of this Province, and now confirmed once again. This decision is part of the commitment of the entire congregation to strengthen the Chablais Mission Fund as a tool to help our confreres in the most needed areas of the Congregation.

                                   Preparatory Commission of the General Chapter

We are in the process of preparing and submitting proposals to the General Chapter which will occur next year. I would like to remind you that, according to our program, proposals should reach the respective members of the Preparatory Committee in each province / region by April 30. Final date for Proposals to be sent to the Preparatory Commission's President, Fr. Markus Kraxberber is May 15.

                                                                Happy Easter!

"Did our hearts not burn within us while he talked to us on the road? (Luke 24:32). I pray that the celebration of Easter may make our hearts burn, so that our testimony can reach others.

I wish a Happy and Blessed Easter to every one of you!


From May 6 through June 28 I will be in the United States. Fr. Konrad Esser will accompany me. During this time I will do the canonical visitation to the Toledo-Detroit Province. Included to that is to participate in the Assembly of the confreres of the Province and their Provincial Chapter. New leadership of the Province for the next four years will be chosen.

For the beginning of August a meeting is scheduled to prepare the agenda of the 19th General Chapter. This meeting will be held in Annecy.

In October and November, Fr. Konrad Esser will accompany me back to the United States. During my return in the Fall, the canonical visitation to the Wilmington-Philadelphia Province, which will also be choosing leadership of the province for the next four years, will be held.

I know that you join me with your prayers during these important visits. For this I wish to express my sincere gratitude.

In our Salesian Saint and Venerable Founders,

Fr. Aldino Jose Kiesel, OSFS
Superior General