Eighteen candidates were commissioned as Salesian Lay Missioners, and four more as Salesian Domestic Volunteers (or as “Home Missioners,” some would prefer to say), in a rite at Don Bosco Retreat Center in Haverstraw, N.Y., on August 17.
Bishop Luc Van Looy, SDB, of Ghent, Belgium, presided over the commissioning rite, assisted by Adam Rudin, director of the SLM program, Megan Fraino, director of the SDV program, and Fr. Tom Dunne, SDB.
The commissioning was the culmination of three weeks of orientation that began July 26 for the two groups and included intercultural awareness, introduction to Don Bosco and the Salesian charism, practical experience in the Salesian summer day camp in Port Chester, the nitty-gritty details of travel overseas, and a six-day retreat.
Bishop Luc, a former missionary in Korea and former member of the Salesian general council, was preaching a retreat for more than 40 Salesian priests and brothers, whose parallel presence is a vital part of the orientation that all lay volunteers receive.
The SDVs include two men and two women who will serve in Salesian sites in Chicago; North Haledon and South Orange, N.J.; Takoma Park, Md.;and Westwego and Harvey, La.
The 22 volunteers range in age from 19 to 53, with the great majority of them in their early 20s. They come from the states of California (2), Colorado, Illinois, Iowa (2), Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York (2), North Carolina, Ohio (3), Pennsylvania (2), Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and one from Radom, Poland, by way of Pennsylvania.
The commissioning rite took place within a Votive Mass for the Evangelization of Peoples. Fr. Steve Leake presided and preached. Using the reading of the day from the prophet Ezekiel (16:1-15, 60, 63), he challenged the youthful volunteers to remember who they are, to give themselves completely to God’s love, and to let others know that they are loved too.