New U.S.A. Volunteers
Fr. Mike Mendl, SDB
On Saturday, August 7, Fr. Tom Dunne (photo, far left), provincial, commissioned 28 young women and men as Salesian Lay Missioners (SLMs) or Salesian Domestic Volunteers (SDVs) at the close of a week of retreat.
For the 22 SLMs the retreat was the culmination of four intense weeks of orientation by their director, Adam Rudin (photo, far right next to Fr. Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions), and other staff. The weeks included initial Salesian orientation and getting acquainted, cultural and other issues (together with volunteers from several other organizations, at Maryknoll), a week’s “practice” with kids in the summer camp of our Port Chester parishes, and finally the retreat and final issues to be addressed before they head in the next few days or weeks for their missions in Bolivia, Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Rwanda, and one other country.
The SLMs come from all over the U.S. and represent both the San Francisco and the New Rochelle Provinces. In days of yore there were SLMs who served within the U.S. provinces, e.g. at Watsonville, Birmingham, Paterson, and NYC. But for the last two years (at least) the New Rochelle Province has been putting together a specific in-country program – the SDVs. It’s directed by Megan Fraino (above photo, back row, 2nd from right) of the Youth Ministry Office in South Orange. Their orientation was basically this week of retreat. The 6 men and women just commissioned are the first for this program and will serve in Salesian or Salesian-affiliated presences in Washington (DBCR), Chicago (SJB), Philadelphia, and Ridgewood, N.J.
The week’s retreat coincided (deliberately) with the annual retreat of some 20 Salesians at Don Bosco Retreat Center in Haverstraw-Stony Point. Despite some confusion (“Was that announcement for the SDVs or the SDBs?”), the young people very much livened up the SDBs’ experience, as Fr. Tom Dunne noted in his letter in Aug. 5′s E-Service. (He also lauds the efforts and the results of Adam and Meg in their respective programs.) The volunteers, in turn, deeply appreciated their interaction with the SDBs at liturgy (both Hours and Eucharist), meals, the Friday evening entertainment, and elsewhere – and their “outing” to the first profession of Sr. Josiane Phanord at North Haledon.
For most of the SLMs, if not all of them, the retreat week was the highlight of their orientation, closely followed, they said, by the week with the kids in Port Chester, which was for most of them their first real experience working directly with children.
Returned SLMs Sr. Anna Kupin, SSC (Bolivia, 2000-01), and Jayne Feeney (Ethiopia, 2009-10) helped orient the new class and shared their enthusiasm for Don Bosco’s mission.