DBGA-EAO Meeting Sparks Momentum on Ecological Sensitivity

By Taichi Miranda

       EAO, 30 January 2023 -- The first online meeting for 2023 of the Don Bosco Green Alliance-EAO Eco Team, convened on 27 January, was graced by the presence and full support of Fr Nguyen Thinh Phuoc Joseph, SDB, the EAO Regional Councillor, Fr Antonio “Beng” Molavin, SDB, the DBGA Convenor, and Mr Marco Fulgaro representing the Salesian Mission Sector in Rome.

       Fr. Phuoc imparted a compelling and motivating message to the team members unfolded in two points, to wit:

       Dear Taichi and members of the DB Green Alliance,

       It is a joy for me to offer you some welcoming words and congratulations for all your engagement in the Green Alliance. As I am having the meeting in this period, through this message, I would like to share with your 2 points: 1/ the significance of your movement; 2/ Invitation for a deeper Christian commitment.

       1/ May be you know better than I, this ecological awareness has been started for decades, before the new 21st century and it becomes more and more urgent. I remember that during my specialization in theological study for teaching, a number of courses were offered on theology of nature and its current issues. Now, it is becoming world-wide movement and the young people are sensitive to this call for conversion. Indeed, two days ago, The Vatican Press just posted a news on this movement under a very interesting title: Sister Kanlaya aiming for a Zero Waste, Zero Human Trafficking world.

       It talks about the 20 year effort of a religious sister (Sister Kanlaya of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in BangkoK, a diocesan congregation?) who has worked tirelessly for Zero for Waste, starting from her religious community, saving money to assist poor people. It is wonderful, isn’t it? I assume that all of you have done this when you spare your time and energy for a cleaner environment and then, for a better care for the poor.

       I connect it to the Strenna of the Rector Major this Year, the Yeast in the human family. It is a powerful image as it is used by Jesus when he taught about the Kingdom of God. The Yeast, very little, is almost too fragile, too invisible, invisible to outsides, only the one who puts the yeast in the dough knows it. But then it brings unexpected effects. The whole dough swelled, the color gradually changed, and then with the heat of the fire, it became delicious food to feed people.

       The Rector Major used this metaphor, the yeast, but “in the human family”. Where is the first reality of the human family? Is it not your family, and by extension the “groups of loved ones with whom you come into contact, forming a close relationship, like family members?

       Continue to be witnesses to the dimension of creating a healthy and human environment with your movement as the Yeast in the human family.

       2/ More Christian commitment: Growing up in a war-torn environment and doing apostolate in a small country village with very limited local resources as a farmer, cultivated rice fields in which, the soil is sandy and without alluvium, the investment was a lot but the income was very low. I understand very well why no one should let anything go to waste in their possession, on their property.  All are transformed into some sort of income, land, of course, but including the dried leaves of the trees in the garden, the grass growing along the village road, buckets of water drawn from the wells, the other side of paper which was unused, the empty pen which need the refill, all must be treasured, kept in order to produce some more little income for the community.

       Nowadays, with the urban lifestyle of some countries, including ours, commodities and consummation lifestyle have made us to lose gradually the sense of thriftiness. And it is fitting that the Green Alliance has prompted us to return or convert.

       But, one point worries me. We already have enough scientific/solid knowledge about all this, but why are there still so many people indifferent, there are still people who live a wasteful life, squandering in many forms? Here we come to understand the two dual dimensions of the Salesian mission. Along with other people of goodwill, like Sr Kanlay we mentioned above. Inspired by the Buddhist monks in Sister's country, they started their own monastic community. Sr. Kanalya has formed a movement with like-minded people to take care of: CARE. Education is a long process for people to understand why they need to care about ecology.

       However, is that enough? That might be enough, according to some. However, the human experiences of sin, through Christian Revelation clearly shows us, that we are weak as human beings, that we have limits in space and time, but also limits on how we can rise. Let's be realistic, then, after the initial excitement, how many people will continue to be involved in this movement. Some may leave, but others continue, convinced that the good they are doing is not out of a general altruism, thinking of future generations in general, but a real love and respect the people right next to us, because they are brothers and sisters in the same human family, all children of God.

       Don Bosco sees this very well, as revealed by the teaching: Only the grace of God can save man. Those who are committed faithfully in good things often have to lead a deeply spiritual life, being connected to Brother Jesus every day, in the right moments, constantly connected to the Lord Jesus and the cause of justice. His: The Kingdom of Heaven is close by, the kingdom of justice, of truth and of love, very concrete, alive in every day of our lives.

       May God bless you all.

       Mr. Fulgaro, on the other hand, cascaded clearly relevant information and available resources on how the Salesian Family can be involved creatively to this year’s Salesian Mission Day Theme “Care for Creation - Our Mission.” The SMD 2023 handbook can only do so much in providing supplementary insights and hints for educational-pastoral journey towards integral ecology and care for creation but it to make productive and well-utilized should be a pivotal counterpart of each of Salesian community.

       Imbued with richness of the Salesian family spirit to respond and carry on the Laudato Si movement of the Church, the DBGA-EAO offers concrete solidarity action that the whole Salesian communities, EPC, young people and Salesian family members in the region can participate according to their phase, capacity and locality. The EAO Eco Art Festival will be officially launched across the region on February 24, 2023. This is an opportunity for each Salesian community and groups to spark and sustain the momentum of promoting awareness on ecological sensitivity, conversion and sustainability while showcasing their work of arts whether in a form of music, dance, fil, fine art, literature, poetry, drawing, painting, photography, crafts, theater and other diverse artistic and cultural activities.