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by Romeo Trottier, SDB

translation by Rev. J. Occhio, SDB

Salesian Cooperators’ Congress in Toronto
On Feb. 8 & 9, the Toronto Cooperators held their annual congress at the Salesian St.Benedict Parish on the theme “ In Jesus’ Name “. It was well planned, enjoyable and fruitful. After a pizza & pop supper in the parish hall, there was a concelebrated Eucharist presided by Bishop Nicola deAngelis, Auxiliary of Toronto. Followed a superb concert given by the St.Jamestown Youth Steel Orchestra. On Saturday morning, after the opening prayer and the word of welcome by Fr. Joseph Occhio, local delegate, the following speakers shared various experiences. Due to lack of space, unfortunately I can only give the titles; Volunteering Experience in Haiti, by Michel Jobin CS – Vocation Stories, by Deacons Morosco Lett and Edward Keays, from St.Augustine Seminary. After lunch ; Address from Provincial Delegates, Fr. Romeo Trottier and Sr. Lucie St-Pierre, Christian Friendship around the World, by Fr. Ray Fortin, Missionary of Africa, Youth Leadership Skills & Inspirations, by Angela Galluzzi and Frankie Iacobazzi. The closing ceremony, before joining the parishioners for the 5h00 Mass, at which the Children’s Choir sang beautifully, was about World Youth Day 2002 with Pope John Paul in July. 

For the occasion, an inspiring 26-page booklet was put together. Thanks to Mary Fay, the local coordinator of the St.Benedict Salesian Cooperator Centre and to her team for a valuable formation experience and for their leadership.
R.I.P. Father Ronald Quenneville S.D.B.
Several of our readers have known Fr. Quenneville. With great sorrow I announce to you that, after a long sickness, he died in Toronto on Feb 19, 2020, and returned to his Creator. He was 75 years old. In Canada, he exercised his priestly ministry in Sherbrooke and Montreal, and in Jacquet River and Dalhousie, N.B. Since 1977, he was working in Toronto , first as teacher and administrator in Catholic schools, then as associate pastor at St.Benedict Parish in Etobicoke. He also had been the Salesian superior in Eastern Canada, as Provincial Delegate from 1965 to 1976.
At the prayer service at St.Benedict on Feb. 21, the Pastor, Fr. Frank Kelly, recalled some of the rather colourful episodes in Fr. Ron’s life. In spite of his “ rough & tough “ appearance, his parishioners had been impressed by his goodness of heart, his love for Our Blessed Mother, the Blessed Sacrament and the Holy Father, all typically Salesian “ devotions “.
Fr. Provincial, Luc Lantagne, presided at the funeral at St.Benedict on Feb. 22 amidst a very emotional congregation and Fr. Richard Authier gave the homily which I quote from briefly. “ The vital force in Fr. Ron’s life was his faith. He always considered himself a child of God, believed firmly in His goodness and knew that he was called to serve Him as a Salesian priest. He knew Mary was at his side, journeying with him. All his life he witnessed to a spirit of obedience and faithfulness really exceptional toward the Church and the Congregation. Young people in particular could see beyond an often rough exterior the heart of a father that cared for them.”
His mortal remains were then brought to Ste-Claire, Montreal, a Salesian parish where he had been Pastor in the early ‘70’s. On Feb. 23, a Thanksgiving Mass was concelebrated there and the body then taken to the Salesian lot at the nearby Repos St-François d’Assise, where Don Bosco, whose figure sculptured on the funeral monument, seems to be welcoming his sons coming home. The last Salesian to be buried there was Fr. Maurice Petit who died 5 years ago on March 1, 2020. May the 6 Salesians there awaiting the final resurrection rest in God’s loving arms ! 
Fr. Ron’s spirit is best summed up in his favourite song – sung very joyfully at the funeral and also at the cemetery as the body was lowered into the ground : “ This Little Light of Mine “. We know he’s going to “ let it shine…let it shine …let it shine.”

Here are some of Fr. Ron’s words ( as printed on his memorial card )

Stay close to Our Lady. She is a powerhouse !

Your life is a joke
if you miss the boat !

This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine.

If your love for the Lord does not sizzle,
it will fizzle.

It is when you experience the love of God
that you find self esteem. Self esteem will lead you to service
and it is in serving that we become one.

Thank you, Ron, for all that you have been to so many people !
The Eight Successor of Don Bosco Dies in Rome
The 8th successor of Saint John Bosco at the head of the Salesians , Fr. Juan E. Vecchi, died on January 23 in Rome. He had been fighting brain cancer for the past 19 months. 
Juan was born in Viedma, Argentina, in 1931. After serving at various levels in the Congregation, he was elected superior general ( officially called “ Rector Major “ in the Salesian Society) in March 1996. 
He will be remembered as an innovator in youth pastoral work, but also for his outstanding gifts of government. He had a strong sense of fatherliness and of fidelity to the founder’s charism. As Rector Major from the time of the General Chapter 24th , the Chapter on the laity, Fr. Vecchi always believed in them and kept up a trusting and sharing relationship with the thousands of lay people who take part in different ways in Don Bosco’s mission for the service of the young. He was also a man of communication, a pastoral sector in which he firmly believed and to which he gave strong encouragement. He will be remembered in Salesian history as a leader of great culture and profound spirituality and as an enthusiastic and optimistic educator.
Juan Edmundo Vecchi Monti, was born at Viedma (Argentina) on 23 June 2020, the youngest of seven children of a family of Italian emigrants who between 1898 and 1906 moved from Emilia Romagna to Argentina in a period in which many Italians dreamed of escaping from the poverty of their own country by finding work and tranquility in foreign parts.
His father Albino Vecchi came from Boretto (Reggio Emilia), and his mother Maria Monti from Montescudo (Forlì). They became acquainted in Argentina and were married there. Juan is a nephew of the Venerable Artemide Zatti, a Salesian Brother who will soon be beatified.
Juan got to know the Salesians in Viedma and decided to follow a salesian vocation. He made his first vows at Fortìn Mercedes, 29 January 2020, and studied theology at Turin-Crocetta, where he was ordained priest on 1 July 2020. In the same year at Turin he obtained the licentiate in theology. On his return to Argentina he was Rector at Viedma from ’65 to ’72.
In the same year he began his long service – some 30 years – to the Congregation as a member of the General Council. From ’72 to ’78 he was Regional Councillor for the Atlantic part of Latin America; from ’78 to ’90 he was Councillor General for Youth Pastoral Work; from ’90 al ’96 Vicar General; and finally from 20 March 2020 he was the eighth successor of Don Bosco.
He will be remembered as an innovator in youth pastoral work, but also for his outstanding gifts of government. He could listen and give due weight to all suggestions and opinions, and to individual needs. He had a strong sense of fatherliness and of fidelity to the founder’s charism, and was moreover a competent leader and animator of teamwork, sensitive and open to signs of the times. 
As Rector Major from the time of the GC24, the Chapter on the laity, Fr Vecchi always believed in them and kept up a trusting and sharing relationship with the thousands of lay people who take part in different ways in Don Bosco’s mission for the service of the young. Noteworthy too was his post-conciliar sensitivity, in which he followed his predecessor Fr Egidio Viganò in believing in a “Church-communion” and in a “Church-mission” for the service of the poor, in a Congregation incarnate in all cultures and reaching out to the poorest and most marginalized of every continent. But as distinct from Fr Viganò, what stands out in Fr Vecchi is the prominence of the anthropological and educative aspect over the theological and spiritual, while the latter characteristic remains high in his personality (cf. his many letters and publications on this latter aspect). Those who have known him will bear witness to the great spiritual momentum which always animated him and made him enthusiastic and optimistic. 
Without any doubt Fr Vecchi was the greatest bond of union between the testimony of convinced spirituality and consistent salesian pastoral activity among young people; he was convinced that only one who is spiritual, one who believes in Him who gives life and identity, can pass on Christ to the young. 
To the twofold aspects of spirituality and pastoral work, Fr Vecchi always added witness of salesian religious and community life. Credible communities that are spiritual and pastorally committed are the fruitful expression of that love of God for young people of which Salesians profess to be “signs and bearers”. This is a point in which Fr Vecchi always believed, even to the extent of choosing as the theme of the GC25, which he convoked, an expression which places three components in a close relationship: the testimony of spirituality, community life, and action among the young.
The eighth successor of Don Bosco was also a man of communication, a pastoral sector in which he firmly believed and to which he gave strong encouragement. In the program of his six years as Rector Major, the communication dimension entered every environment, and found concrete expression, among other items, in the renewal and relaunching of the 52 editions of the Salesian Bulletin.
Fr Vecchi was without any doubt a great worker, a man of faith, and a faithful reflection of the charismatic understanding of Christ that the Holy Spirit entrusted to Don Bosco. A man who was a good listener and attentive to modern culture, he believed in the possibility of a meeting between faith and culture, between lay and religious aspects. He had the great ability to get to the heart of questions without any lack of respect for the point of view of others; he was an animator with clear ideas that were open and shared with others, able to detect new horizons with optimism, and to impart drive once a project had been decided on.

 Last update: 2020.01.31