New Rochelle, N.Y. — After four weeks of orientation at three sites, 23 young women and men (18 women, 5 men) were commissioned as Salesian Lay Missionaries (SLMs) on Saturday, August 8.
Fr. Thomas Dunne, superior of the New Rochelle Province (SUE), presided over an early morning Mass at the Don Bosco Retreat Center in Haverstraw-Stony Point, New York. The Mass also marked the closing of the annual retreat for about 30 Salesians.
The Salesian retreat coincided with the final week of the SLMs preparation, which had a retreat atmosphere and stressed Salesian spirituality, the Preventive System, and such specifics for their upcoming apostolic work. Mingling with Salesian priests and brothers at meals and recreation times, sharing the sacred liturgy with them, and listening to ‘good night’ talks from Fr. Dunne and other Salesians also helped the young people with their orientation toward Salesian mission.
Earlier weeks of orientation saw the future missionaries gather at Maryknoll in Ossining, New York, together with volunteers from four other groups for training in culture, missiology, and the practicalities of going overseas. The Salesian volunteers also participated for a week in the summer day camp program of the Salesian parishes in Port Chester, New York, seeing and practicing how to work with youngsters as Salesians do.
The 2009 class of SLMs will be missioned to five sites in Bolivia; three in India; two sites in Ethiopia; and one each in Manaus, Brazil; Johannesburg, South Africa; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Kigali, Rwanda; and Tijuana, Mexico. They may help in orphanages, teach catechism or academic courses or agriculture, do manual work, provide medical assistance, or exercise other forms of spiritual and material apostolic work.