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5/12/2012 - France - Ways for missionaries to fit into Project Europe
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(ANS – Lyons) – Missionaries sent to France, Belgium and the Netherlands gathered in the Salesian Formation House at Fourvière in Lyons, from 30th November to 4th December. Also taking part in the meeting were people from the Provinces who are accompanying missionaries to help them in a gradual and effective integration.

Inculturation is one of the challenges that a missionary is required to succeed in. It is a long and delicate process that can be seen under various aspects: human, social, religious and pastoral. Last year, in late November, the Missions Department held a first meeting in Rome, at the Generalate, initiating accompaniment processes; it highlights the importance of Salesian and pastoral preparation of the community which is accepting the missionaries being open to the richness and initiatives that the newcomers can offer.

The Lyons meeting was organized by the Provinces of France-Belgium South (FRB) and Belgium (BEN) – which includes the Provincial Delegation of Holland – and consisted of moments of fellowship, prayer and sharing of experiences. Fr Alfred Maravilla, from the Missions Department stepped in on behalf of Fr Václav Klement, General Councillor, who was attending the European Provincials meeting.

The missionaries recounted their personal experiences of inclusion in the life of their respective Provinces and the gradual process of inculturation into the European reality. At the moment, the study of the language is the most important task for many of them. With the support of guides and accompaniers specifically indicated by the Provinces, and through other targeted initiatives, missionaries are helped to integrate gradually into their new contexts.

Noted amongst the good practices developed, was the FRB Province which organises a meeting every two months among the missionaries of Project Europe and young Salesians of the province, so as to involve both groups in the preparation of activities and celebrations. The BEN Province, in turn, has scheduled three meetings per year to evaluate the path taken by the missionaries. The Dutch missionaries meet monthly with a group of Salesians and laity to plan for relaunching the Salesian presence in Amsterdam.

At the same time the participants at Lyons meeting also outlined some of the challenges they have had to confront since their arrival in Europe, such as the need to understand more deeply the secular and post-modern European culture, to avoid falling into simplistic assessments; the importance of studying and reflecting to find new ways of relaunching the Salesian presence, make it meaningful and revitalizing the charism; and the enormous possibilities offered by today's apostolate among the migrants.

Published 05/12/2012

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