Panama. From 11 to 14 August 2022, the III Inter-American Regional Congress of the Association of Salesian Cooperators (ASSCC) was held in Panama City, with the presence of Fr. Joan Luis Playá, SDB, Delegate of the Rector Major for the Salesian Family; of Sr. Lucrecia Uribe, FMA, and Fr. Domenico Nam Nguyen, SDB, World Delegates for the SSCC Association; Sr. Aracely Mayorga, Provincial Delegate for the Inter-American Region; the SDB and FMA Provincial Delegates; the Coordinators, Provincial Councilors, and members of the Regional Executive Secretariat (SER). The meeting took place in presence and online, with the participation of about 90 Salesian Cooperators and Delegates.

“To think in order to live synodality in the Church” was the motto of the Congress, which took place in an atmosphere of sharing and of family, with formative aims and with the election of new members of the Executive Secretariat, who will animate the Inter-American Region for the period 2022-2028.

Before the Congress, the participants visited the “Valdocco of America”, located in Don Bosco Basilica in Panama, with the museum and the reproduction of the little house of St. John Bosco, ending the day with the Good Night of Fr. Joan Luis Playá, who invited us to take Mamma Margherita’s basket and put in it what is needed for the Salesian mission.

At the opening of the Congress, Francisco Burciaga, World Councilor for the Inter-American Region, with his words of welcome reminded that the InterAmerican Region is the largest and spoke of the importance of maintaining unity, a sign of communion and family.

The InterAmerican Region, in fact, is made up of 172 local centers, 2,302 Salesian Cooperators and 503 aspirants, distributed in 9 Provinces, 13 Countries: Canada, United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Haiti. Three languages are spoken in the Region: English, French, and Spanish (Source: Info ANS).

The reports of the RES and the steps of each Province were then presented. With the presence and remote participation of the Provincial Councilors and delegates with the right to speak and to vote, the Regulations and the Executive Board of the Inter-American Region were approved.

Subsequently, a video presentation began of the five Candidates who proposed themselves as World Councilors for the Inter-American Region. The Congress continued with formative interventions in the context of synodality, among which:

Sr. Lucrecia Uribe spoke on the theme, “The biblical dimension of synodality” emphasizing that in God’s plan, the journey is made together, and, as a leader, it is necessary to work on the human dimension. She encouraged the participants to respect the different speeds of the Association, to save communion.

Fr. Domenico Nam Nguyen presented the theme “Salesian Cooperators, called to live synodality in the Church”, sharing 3 elements of synodality of the Salesian charism: the Salesian sacrament of presence, familiarity, that is, being “prophets of fraternity”, and the style of accompaniment of the young.

From the reflections, it emerged that walking together is not automatic and cannot be taken for granted. It is the continuous and patient learning of an art that allows one to synchronize steps, to harmonize differences, to open up to the creativity of the Spirit who leads on the paths of God.

After invoking the Holy Spirit, the counting of votes took place and the new World Councilor and the Executive Secretariat (RES) for the period 2022-2028 were elected:

Martín Calderón (Costa Rica), World Councilor for the Inter-American region.

Pierre Larocque (Canada), responsible for the Secretariat.

Victoria Mónico (El Salvador), responsible for Communication.

José Francisco (Franklin) Ortega (Dominican Republic), responsible for Administration.

Juanita Silva (Mexico), responsible for Formation.

Karla Ramos (Honduras), responsible for Youth and Family Pastoral.

Alfredo Algandar (Mexico), responsible for the Southern Area.

Krystie Garza (USA West), responsible for the Northern Area.

Francisco Burciaga and the other members of the SER were thanked for their pastoral service.

The Congress ended with a dinner in fraternity, in which each participant received a cup with the logo of the event and with a phrase from Sister Maria Romero, FMA Blessed of Nicaragua, in the CAM Sur Province.


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