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GENERAL CHAPTER OF THE SDB
From the 4th to the 22nd of September 2001, the Precapitular Commission gathered in Rome at the Salesian Generalate to work on the reports and schemes that will make up the draft working document for the members of the approaching 25th General Chapter of the Salesians (GC25) to be held from February until April 2002. Their task was to come to grips with all the material produced by some 100 Provincial Chapters that took place in all the Provinces of the Congregation.
 
The Provincial Chapter of the Province of St. Joseph, Canada, was held at Lac Supérieur in the Laurentians from April 30th to May 4th. This assembly was composed of the members of the provincial council, the directors of the communities and 6 delegates elected "at large". Besides preparing their contribution for GC25, they focused on certain questions of immediate concern to our Province. They also elected Bro. George Harkins as the delegate who, with Fr. Provincial, will represent Canada, and Fr.Auger as the substitute delegate. We could add that Fr. Occhio, from Toronto, will participate at GC25 "passively"(!) as a translator.
 
From the theme of GC25, "The Salesian community today: its fraternal life, its evangelical witness, its animating presence among the young", together with the assessment of the structures of government at the center and elsewhere, the commission has divided the contributions from the provinces into two topic areas. On the question of community, 3600 replies were grouped around 55 key words, while on the question of structure, 600 replies were grouped around 12 key words. This way of working helped the commission in drawing up a complete and very useful synthesis.
 
LETTER OF THE RECTOR MAJOR
The Rector Major of the Salesians, Fr. Juan E. Vecchi, has sent to the Salesians in the whole world a circular letter (usually there are 4 such letters per year) titled "Beatification of Bro. Artemide Zatti: a sensational precedent." All the necessary steps have been completed for the beatification of the first Salesian Brother non-martyr. This will probably take place next spring during GC25. "This present letter," he writes, "is intended to prepare our communities for the coming event by gathering together the particular points stemming from the holiness of this confrere of ours. At the same time I want to highlight the relevance of the Salesian brother, his value in our community life and mission and, above all, the need for a more decisive work for vocations."
 
Born in Italy in 1880, his family emigrated to Argentina when he was 17 years old. Having become a Salesian brother, he contracted tuberculosis while assisting a turberculous priest, and was cured after having promised to devote himself totally to the sick - an apostolate he carried out till the end of his life. This good Samaritan, this "kinsman of the poor" died from liver cancer on March 15, 2020. "On the day of his funeral," Fr. Vecchi writes, "no inhabitant of Viedma stayed at home." And he concludes his brief biographical sketch with these words: "The Salesian Bro. Artemide Zatti was truly a 'Good Samaritan' in the style of Don Bosco, a 'sign and bearer of the love of God', of his compassion, of his healing and consoling presence, which opened up horizons of faith and hope to the sick and to the young: he loved them all, and was able to win their love, as Don Bosco wanted."
 
I add a word on the health of the Rector Major himself. As many readers know, a little more than a year ago a tumor was diagnosed in his brain. He continued nonetheless, at a reduced rhythm, his ministry of animation and government of the Salesian family. His Vicar General has recently informed us that his sickness has reached a very critical phase. The entire Salesian family continues to pray that, through the intercession of Bro. Zatti, God grant him courage and serenity in this final hour.
 
AMONG THE ORTHODOX 
As a conclusion of a series of 7 meetings on the different contexts in which SDB and FMA are working, a study session was held on "Salesian presence in the Orthodox context." It took place at the Salesianum in Rome, from the 2th to the 7th of September, 2001. This was the first time that the topic of the Orthodox was dealt with by FMA and SDB Mission Departments. Following the lines of previous meetings this was a study of Salesian priorities in every continent, especially regarding evangelization-culture. There were 27 Salesian religious taking part: 13 FMA and 14 SDB, coming from all the countries of the former USSR, from the Balkans, from Romania, Bulgaria and the Middle East. Four topics were considered: an historical approach to the Orthodox; a serious study of some of the rites, an examination of the recent Ecumenical Charter for Europe, and the Salesian pedagogical and pastoral aspects in the Orthodox context.
The week was also an opportunity to exchange and share criteria, methods and pastoral strategies common to FMA and SDB in our ministry at large and to youth in particular.
 

 
Here is the " strenna " ( theme) given by the Rector Major, Very Reverend Juan E. Vecchi, to the whole Salesian Family for the year 2002. Its central reference is Pope John Paul's Apostolic Letter NOVO MILLENNIO INEUNTE.

DUC IN ALTUM ( Lk 5,4 )
Put out into the high seas
and cast your nets wide and deep.