Salesian family day – Combodia

Annual Salesian Family Gathering at Teuk Thla
The 2nd annual gathering of the Salesian Family in Cambodia took place last 20th January 2018 at the Salesian Sisters’ school at Teuk Thla. It started with the Holy Mass presided by the Provincial Delegate, Fr. Roel Soto, and concelebrated by three other Salesians: Fr. Gerard Ravasco, Fr. Mark Yang and Fr. Charles Michael Arun.
As in the previous year, the main objective of the gathering was to have a common study and deepening on the Rector Major’s Strenna, which this year has the theme “Let us Cultivate the Art of Listening and of Accompaniment”. The Scriptural basis of the strenna was the Samaritan woman’s words to Jesus: "Sir, give me this water." (Jn. 4:15).
After the Eucharistic celebration, the 61 participants gathered in the Don Bosco High School Audio Visual room. After the Provincial, Sr. Jessica Salvaña’s words of welcome, Sr. Maria Elena Estacio, coordinator of the event and in charge of the FMA Salesian Family sector, welcomed a special participant from Thailand, Fr. Carlo Verlado an Italian missionary who had been working there for more than 40 years.  Each participant then introduced him/herself in a familiar and informal way. This moment alone showed the Salesian Family’s sense of humor and creativity.
Then came the main event of the day: Fr. “Gigi” Ravasco’s explanation and practical application of the strenna. With the help of video clips, Fr. Gigi simplified the Rector Major’s commentary and somehow enculturated it, giving emphasis to the three elements of discernment (recognizing, interpreting and making a choice) especially when helping young people in their vocational discernment and life itinerary.

After a short break for snacks and reflection, the group met again for sharing and some announcement of family news. The sharing and discussion was lively and revealed the diversity and also cohesion of insights among SDBs, FMAs, Salesian Cooperators, past pupils and lay collaborators. Even Fr. Verlado, who has worked as director of their skills development center for the blind in Bangkok, shared on his apostolic experiences with visually-impaired youth.
This year, it was heart-warming to see the first Cambodian Volunteer of Don Bosco (VDB) among the participants. A member of the Sister-Servants of the Immaculate Heart, Sr. Kanlaya Chatbanyong, missionary from Thailand, also represented their congregation. A representative of the Don Bosco Past Pupils’ Association, Mr. Pang Poty, announced a forthcoming gathering of SDB alumni to which they invited the Sisters’ past pupils to join.
The meeting ended with the presentation of a video on the 25th Anniversary of the FMAs in Cambodia and this was followed by a hearty lunch where sharings and friendly discussions continued. Indeed, the spirit of Don Bosco was very much alive that morning!

-       Sr. Malen Estacio, FMA

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