Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Salesian Rectors' Manual (history)

Some excerpts from a discussion with Fr Barro Erra Giovani, one of those closely involved in the formulation of the first edition of the Rector's manual which was published in 1986.

Paul Natali was the main brain and hand behind it.


  • Ongoing formation a new emerging topic of discussion.   How to go ahead in the light of the resistance of confreres to take part in the ongoing formation, was one of the highly discussed issue. 
  • With whom does the rector work? (concept of the community) Issue of the numerical consistency of the community ... A survey done then showed that half of the congregation had only 3 or less confreres.  In such communities, religious life was lived as ideal.  (So among them they agreed that one practices poverty, one obedience and one chastity).
  • The question of work. The intricate connection between consecration and mission. 

Contextual challenges for today:

  • Multi-cultural context of the present times.
  • Pope Francis' insistence on the spirituality of communion ... different from merely living in a community (The 80's had hardly any discussion on communion, it was only on community).

Salesian Brothers as Rectors?

  • Volume of 600 pages on the issue of Salesian Brothers being Rectors of communities... Brs were asked, Holy See was approached, professors at UPS were consulted, Ricceri was the RM.  Later, Fr Vigano published the manual and also made an intervention on the Salesian Brother being a rector... highly theological.

Your suggestion for the revision team:

  • I was more as a confrere than as a rector... but if there is one thing I must say, I insist on the numerical consistency of the community and relationship between the confreres.  Today there is individualism in the community.  Young confreres soon pick up a very fractured idea of community, from their apostolate... each confrere working in his own sector and meeting the community only at meals.  Take a look at the new document on religious life, 'New wine in new wineskins'. 

About 12 members in the drafting committee. Formation department surely had Fr Brocardo.
Duration: done quite fast, near a year after the release of the ratio

Reaction of the confreres to the manual:

  • Well received, in general but also some commented that it was too lengthy... generally accepted because it was new, there was nothing like it before.

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