Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Age, wisdom and history

It is said that when Don Bosco began his "society" - for he was cautious to name it a 'Congregation' - in 1859 there were only 17 members in it. Fr Alasonatti was the eldest (47). Imagine the age of the councillors?! Just 21 and 24!! Cagliero and Bonetti were 21 while Ghivarello was 24. Today by that age one barely gets past the post novitiate formation. Though the Brothers in Practical training manage the boys, I wonder if they have the sense and the wisdom to manage the house. On the other hand, I've known several diocesan brothers - some of them, my students - who would be put in-charge of vast farm land (nearly 40 to 50 acres of fruit trees and forest) all by themselves. No priests or seniors, just farm hands. Either because the Bishop did not trust his priests or he found it is better that Brothers manage the farm and priests be left for pastoral ministry, whatever be the case, the Brothers ended up knowing life the hard way. By the time they are ordained, they know to manage any given situation. I wonder if we are ready for such a risk.

However, what makes all the difference is experience, learning and faith. Perhaps this is the reason there are some appointed Rectors in their early 40s while some in their 70s have never ever been Rectors! Must remember that even the three councillors in 1859 were chosen only after some hesitation! (Don Bosco in his times by Francis Desramaut and translated by Fr John Lens, p. 103)

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