Fruits of the ACSSA Seminar for East Asia and Oceania
Sam Phran (Thailand). From February 10 to 15, 2019, the retreat house of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA) in Sam Phran (Thailand) hosted a Continental Seminar on "Important Salesian figures of the twentieth century in East Asia". 47 people from the Provinces and Pre-Provinces participated, representing eight different groups of the Salesian Family.
At the opening were the messages of various Superiors of the Salesian Family, including that of Mother Yvonne Reungoat. In the inaugural Eucharist, the Regional Councilor, Fr Václav Klement, thanked all the historians of the Salesian Family and stressed how the centenaries of Salesian presence, which will be celebrated in the various countries of the region in the coming years, constitute a further reason to deepen the knowledge of the origins.
During the course of the work, various Salesian figures were studied, among many others, those of Msgr. Ignazio Canazei, a prelate in China, and of Msgr. Gaetano Pasotti, Bishop in Thailand; those of the missionary pioneers Sister Carmela Solari, FMA, and Fr. Fortunato Giacomin, respectively engaged in Japan and Myanmar; or, again, those of Fr. Antonio Cavoli, Founder of the Sisters of Charity of Jesus, and of the Servant of God Fr. Carlo della Torre. At least in a couple of cases, Vietnam and China, the FMA have identified two significant figures, a missionary and a local vocation, to indicate the different nuances of relevance according to the situations.
A total of 18 reports were presented: 14 on the figures involved in those regions, and the remaining methodological ones by the leaders of the association: "The different literary genres and the critical approaches to Salesian sources", edited by Fr. Francesco Motto; an "Introduction to historical research on Salesian figures" by Sister Grazia Loparco (FMA); "Preserving and transmitting memory in the Salesian tradition", by Fr Thomas Anchukandam; and "About the Salesian Historical Institute and the publications of the ACSSA on Salesian history", curated by Fr. Stanislaw Zimniak.
What are the fruits of this Seminar? First, a deeper understanding of why and how to document and write Salesian history. Many of the participants bring home a strong motivation to convey a sense of history that helps deepen the charismatic roots and fosters a clearer vision of the future in each country, integrating memory and dynamic identity.
On the last day Fr. Stanislaw Zimniak, Secretary General of ACSSA, shared the rich past and the articulated current events of the Association and the Salesian Historical Institute (ISS), presenting the national, continental, and world structures of the ACSSA (190 members on the five continents) and illustrating the website that contains many publications.
Since there are just 5 members of the ACSSA in the whole of East Asia-Oceania, participants in the Seminar were invited to join the association to continue the commitment and to use the formation resources available online, on the sites of ACSSA.
Now the organizers hope that all the Provinces of the region will be inspired to deepen their awareness of the Salesian roots in their territory and contribute with concrete steps beginning with the content-rich writing of the community chronicles. The excellent welcome and hospitality of the FMA of the Province contributed to the success of the Seminar, whose material can be consulted through the link: http://fma.or.th/thaifma/