Meeting for Mission Animators

Cumbayá, Ecuador – From October 30 through November 3 the 3rd continental missionary seminar for the Americas was held in Ecuador.  Organized by the Salesians’ Missions Council in Rome, the meeting brought together delegates for mission animation from 21 provinces throughout North, Central, and South America.  Also partaking in the meeting were members of the General Council for the Missions:  Fr. Vaclav Klement, General Councilor of the Missions, Fr. Alfred Maravilla, Fr. Stanislaw Rafalko, both members of the General Council for the Missions.  The meeting was facilitated by Fr. Rafael Borges, member of the General Council for Youth Ministry.

The meeting offered an in-depth look at the role of the “DIAM”, or the Mission Animator, as it pertains to the individual province and the congregation overall.  As part of the gathering, 6 provinces presented on their “best practices” in order to shed some light on what it is that other provinces are doing to help foster a culture of mission.

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Many – perhaps half – of the attendees, including myself and SUO’s DIAM, Juan Carlos Montenegro, have been in the job for less than 2 years, so it was a great time to talk with others and start to build a network that each of us can lean on for help and ideas.  It was very inspiring to see everything that is going on in the different provinces – a bit overwhelming at points as each person begins to talk about all the events their province has – but then you begin to think about your own province from which you come.  In the case of the province of Eastern US and Canada (“SUE”), there is a lot going on in terms of Mission Animation, and it is something we can be happy about.

But there’s always room for improvement and further outreach.  This year I hope to work more closely with the Salesian communities in helping to spread the missionary zeal that is, as Fr. Viganó said, an “essential feature of our charism”.

On a personal note, the meeting was a great experience in getting to know the other Mission Animators.  It’s amazing the work that each province is doing and one can’t help but to leave a meeting like that with feelings of awe and inspiration.