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PARAPPULLY Jose, New Delhi says,
Holding Up to the Light - 18 Intervention at GC 27
By Jose Parappully
forum
360° VIEW
New Delhi, Mar. 23. Here is my intervention on the Rector Major`s Report on the State of the Congregation.

Intervention 1:  on the Report of the Rector Major

The Rector Major told us that what matters is not the state of the Congregation, but the direction it has to take.

Having carefully studied and reflected on the Rector`s Major`s Report I can summarise the direction the Congregation has to take in one word  - CONVERSION, understood as a turning around and a turning toward, more than turning back.

I want to highlight some areas where this conversion is imperative.

1. Openness to and appreciation of the real world of youth today.  

RM referred to unwillingness and clear inability to be open to and be sympathetic toward the world of youth, especially their lifestyle and values.

Instead we try to get them to accept our values and standards of behavior and ethics, an effort which only alienates them.

He called for greater compassion for the young - which unfortunately is missing in many circumstances.

We need to clearly understand, formulate and practise the implications of the shift from being ``Father and Friend`` to ``Servant of the young.

2. Openness to the reality of globalization and its implications, especially in the context of the geographical shift in the numerical strength of Salesians.

RM spoke of the absolute need for inculturation so that the Salesian charism is not identified with any particular nationalistic, linguistic or cultural expressions.

Such inculturation is really difficult. As an example let me site what is happening here at GC. We are often reminded of the global community that the GC is. An effort is made to acknowledge this by using different languages in the liturgy.  

This is to be appreciated, but the multi-lingual usage is just cosmetic in terms of inculturaiton of the liturgy. The structure of the Liturgy remains decidedly Roman, without an iota of space for incorporating the rich liturgies of the cultures represented here.

Something similar can be said of the inculturation of the Salesian charism in the age of globalization, we may make cosmetic changes without radical change in structures.

3. This leads to the third area of conversion. Ability to let go of cherished Salesian traditions and structures when they are no longer relevant to changed circumstances.

A case in point is the combination of the roles of Rector and Spiritual Director.

Most of us here would be familiar with the recent document from the Department of Formation sent to the provinces for study and critique.

Any discerning mind would recognize that it is an exercise trying to maintain a cherished Salesian tradition, with some spurious argumentation, ignoring current understanding of the dynamics of spiritual direction and the fact that today`s rectors are not really a Don Bosco.

Similar attempts to maintain obsolete traditions can also be happening in other areas.

As the Holy Father Pope Francis recently observed, it is important to change structures when they are no longer helpful, even if they are part of long tradition.

4. Finally, and most importantly, a conversion, a turn around, from being workers who also pray to being primarily men seeking God, and giving expression to this primacy of God not only individually but more collectively through a community of real brotherhood, praying together and living and working together sharing a common mission rather than pursuing individual projects and ambitions, living in simplicity in imitation of the poor Jesus.

5. All this calls for a major conversion, turning around: the willingness to abandon, modify and create structures and processes of recruitment, formation, and governance that will facilitate conversion in the areas already outlined.

Jose Parappully
Delegate, INN
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