Monday, 12 December 2016

Solo Salesians

During our Spiritual reading the other day, there was this phrase 'Solo Salesians' which was condemned, in the light of our communitarian apostolate.

Well, if I were back in India, I would have perfectly agreed with it and seen the point. However, my experience here in the UK has been otherwise.  Well, let me not speak of somebody's experience or even a collective apostolate.  From what I have picked up over the years of Salesian life, I understand the community is basically the bonding and the witness. This is our primary mission. Not the activity that we do.  The latter is only an outcome of the former.  Of course, very often that activity is the only  existing and visible thing. Anyway, coming back to the point, if bonding and witness is the primary mission as a community, there ought to be members in the community AND there ought to be someone to whom we appear.  Now the first part of bonding, I see and agree.  No point being together but not knowing one another or even being concerned for one another.

The second half of the community dimension: witness. What if nobody really sees the community?  Honestly, in a place like where I presently live, each one works in a totally different place, totally disconnected from the other.  One in a college (not our own), the other in a Parish (that's ours) and another in a school (which is ours but not ours!).  Now the responsibility of each is such that we cannot have a rota wherein one can substitute the other (once in a way maybe, but certainly not for long).  Like someone asked at table the other day, "Do you have a rota chart for Mass at the Parish?" to which the Parish Priest replied, "We have! But it has only my name on it!" Now, I'm also willing to concede that there are possibilities of a community rotation - but very very limited and far stretched. So back to the question: whom do people get to see and experience? The "Solo Salesian"!

There are 8 houses in the block where I live and I haven't even seen anyone, leave alone speak to anyone at all... and it is two months since I have been here. The case is no better for those who have lived here for 4 years!! So where are those who see us?

What about the community dimension?  Honestly there is really no scope - not much though.  If tomorrow the community decides that we either 'give witness' together or not at all, then all us may end up being just in our own place. Nowhere to go, nothing to do!  Perfect setting for a cloistered monastery!  Call my view, biased, but there are hardly those who 'need' us!  Even those who do need our services would not like to be helped!  So we cannot spontaneously extend help, all we can do is offer and wait for them to accept and only then be involved. Anything before that is breach of privacy... and can do more harm than any good intended.

I understand that this is a really different and difficult challenge for the West. Fortunately or unfortunately India has not reached this stage of 'independence'.  Not that it has no issues (gosh!). But this does take toll on us as religious.  Perhaps this is the cultural shock that people always keep talking about(?). 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...