- Who we are
- Where we work
- Youth Services
- News and Media
- Ways to Help
I would like to make a few comments on the community plan of life. The SCPL is a concrete way to strengthen our ability to live and work together as Salesians in religious life. More than a written document, it is a process of discernment that recognizes the connection between the Province and the specific reality of the local community. The SCPL can be a sincere expression of our obedience, not because the Rector or Leader has told the confreres what they must do, but because the confreres themselves prayerfully discern what God is calling the members of the community to be and do in this Salesian presence during this year academic year. The SCPL can help develop a sense of communion, a stronger unity in identity and purpose, going against the cultural trends of individualism and compartmentalization. Considering all this, we can see that a good community plan can be valuable for our ongoing formation.
Two points require attention throughout the process: there are steps to be kept in mind if a convergence is to be arrived at, and it is important that the Rector be aware of his role.
– It is important that in the whole process efforts are made to arrive at conclusions and decisions by a consensus, or better, by a convergence of the members of the community. Convergence does not mean unanimity, but that each of the members, even if he does not find the conclusions or the decisions entirely to his liking, nonetheless is ready to give his support to them. Naturally to arrive at a consensus in a group of people needs time and effort, but it has the great advantage of overcoming differences of opinion, of creating a shared view of problems and of solutions, and consequently of fostering unity. In this way the plan becomes the 'product' of all the community; each of the confreres finds himself in it. And being open, throughout the whole process, to what God wants, the work of drawing up the plan becomes a real act of discernment.
The role of the Rector in this process is that of encouraging the confreres to listen to the Spirit and to each other and to look at the suggestions from different points of view. He invites each one to take part with complete freedom, and for this reason he tries to create an atmosphere of trust and respect. He helps in the gradual process of arriving at a convergence overcoming any reasons for dissent. He accompanies the community during the whole process, guiding it with great sensitivity and ensuring that this is neither rushed nor burdensome.
I am drawing attention to the SCPL at this time so all the confreres, guided by the Rector/Leader, can begin to reflect on their own plan for this new academic pastoral year. It would be good to review the Provincial Visitation reports of the past few years and other means of assessment if done during the last few years. Always keep in mind that both community and personal prayer and being open to God’s will, are indispensable when sitting down to make the SCPL.
PRACTICAL HINTS FOR SYNODALITY IN COMMUNITY
01. Trust in the ability of our lay partners. They have much to contribute, if only we have the heart to listen to them.
02. In all humility, we need to accept the opinion of the lay collaborators. Perhaps we need to
shed our clericalism.
03. With an open mind, go to a quiet place where the entire EPCC can reflectively seek the will of
God for the mission that is entrusted to us by God.
04. It is good to give in advance the areas of growth that we envisage in our mission setting. To
help in this process, it is advisable that we have the previous SEPP which can be evaluated
and look for ways to fine tune the process and the strategies.
05. The SEPP should be the guide for our monthly plan of the community.
06. It is important that we have very clearly the lines of action, the person responsible for the
execution of the plan and the budget.
07. It is necessary that we have a mid-term evaluation which will help us to remain consistent in
our efforts to accompany the young people entrusted to our care.
08. The public display of such plans will make everyone look forward to all our initiatives.
09. It is important that we clarify the process and the strategies in order to make clear the
rationale behind every initiative. It is good to have in mind the physical, intellectual, spiritual,
psychological, emotional, social and cultural growth of our young people in mind.
10. The more people are involved in the decision-making process, the better acceptance of the
entire plan. When plan accept joyfully the plans, the commitment level will be very high.
Often we tend to focus more on “what we do” and “how we do it” than on the purpose of “why we do what we do and what do we accomplish by doing it”. Unfortunately, some of our communities are not clear on what specifically we want to accomplish and, therefore, have no basis to assess whether the planned activities are actually accomplishing their intended results. Even when our goals are clear, we often do not evaluate whether they were accomplished. We have the tendency to go from one activity to another without the kind of careful assessment and evaluation which is very much needed to justify all our efforts.
Kathleen Cahalan, a theologian, sees evaluation as an expression of Christian stewardship exercised by leaders who care deeply about the effectiveness of the mission. She interprets evaluation as “collaborative inquiry” in which projects, goals, activities, and results are analyzed as a practice of spiritual discernment. “Christians describe the word discernment,” says Cahalan, “as a faithful inquiry into understanding what God is doing and what we are to do in response to God.”
In this month of the Sacred Heart, it is good that we entrust our province and all our plans to the Heart of Jesus who will motivate us to make enough sacrifice to give of our best to the mission. Jesus gave us His all. He is our model. We need to give of ourselves totally for the mission. If the world were to see us as men of real sacrificing service to others, we would bring the world to a higher order of life. Like John the Baptist we should have the attitude of “He must increase, and I must decrease”.
Let me wish all of you a very happy feast of Sacred Heart. Let us place all our plans at the heart of Jesus. With the mind of Jesus we will make all our plans come true and in dealing with others, let us use our heart.