Rome (Italy). On April 28, 2018 the annual session of the ACSSA Presidency (Cultivators of Salesian History Association) was held at the Salesian Pontifical University (Rome). Fr Francesco Motto, President; Fr Stanislaw Zimniak, Secretary-Treasurer; Fr Joaquín Torres and Sr. Grazia Loparco for Europe; Mr. Ariel Fresia for America; Sr. Maria Rohrer for Africa; and Fr. Nestor Impelido for East Asia participated.
The presence of the Councilor for Formation, Fr. Ivo Coelho, was very welcome for an exchange of opinions concerning the cultivation of historical memory in the Congregation and in the Salesian Family. In his opinion, a solid Salesian formation cannot disregard updated knowledge of the inspiring sources in planning of both one’s own apostolate and the formation of future Salesian generations. Naturally, it is necessary to take into account various cultural contexts which have another mental approach to the preservation of historical memory. He invited us, despite the difficulties, to continue with the association’s mission, encouraging awareness in less attentive contexts.
At the center of the meeting was the verification of the preparation of the five Continental Seminars to be held in the years 2018-2019 and which have as their theme: “incisive and innovative Salesian figures in the twentieth century”. The first is the Seminar for South Asia that will be held in Hyderabad (India) on 22-24 June 2018. It was reported by the leaders, Sister Philomena D’Souza, Fr Mathew Kapplikunnel, and Fr Thomas Anchukandam, that the preparation is at a good point even if it still requires some clarification. For the European Seminar to be held in Bratislava (Slovakia), from 31 October to 4 November 2018, the organization which is entrusted to Sr. G. Loparco, Fr F. Motto, Fr J. Torres, and Fr S. Zimniak, has a program that foresees about forty interventions, and avails itself of a careful organization on the spot, in collaboration between FMA and SDB. The following three are planned in 2019: the Seminar for East Asia, coordinated by Fr N. Impelido, with the support of the local FMA organization. He proposed a thematic modification, i.e. the addition of methodological arguments in order to help the least trained in historical work. The seminar will be held on 10-15 February 2019, in Sam Phran (Thailand). The preparatory work is still in the “embryonic” state. For the Seminar of Africa and Madagascar, scheduled for March 4-10, 2019, according to what Sister M. Rohrer reported, interventions by the FMA have already been identified, while active participation by the SDB remains to be completed. Also in this case, the directors propose adding a theme related to archival conservation and the historical method to be explored. The last one is the Seminar for the Americas which will take place on March 18-22, 2019, in Buenos Aires. The directors, Mr. Iván Ariel Fresia and Sister Maria Imaculada da Silva have already identified a certain number of people available to carry out the research, however there are a good number of SDB and FMA provinces that have not responded to the invitation.
The five continental seminars are seen as a journey of preparation for the 7th International Conference. The Presidency, positively assessing the progress of the preparation and the coincidence with the theme, decided to anticipate its progress to between the end of November-beginning of December 2020, rather than in 2021, as previously planned. The change is also dictated by the fact that the Salesian Historical Institute has decided to celebrate a world congress on the figure of the Rector Major Fr. Paul Albera in November 2021. These solutions avoid the overlapping of important historical events for the Salesian Family.
Subsequently, the activities of the national sections of ACSSA were presented: Italy, Spain, Poland, Brazil, Argentina, and India. ACSSA Italy focused, above all, on the elaboration of the research to be presented during the European seminar, counting about thirty contributions in the drafting phase. ACSSA Spain highlighted the publication of the Dictionary of the deceased Spanish Salesians that should be ready for 2019. Another task is the drafting of the History of the Salesian Congregation in Spain, and finally the preparation of some contributions for the European seminar. Instead, ACSSA Poland, in addition to clarifying the contribution to the same event, is increasingly focusing on an ambitious project, the Salesian Encyclopedia in which, in addition to the members, other scholars are involved. The individual members are also involved in organizing regional and national conferences related to various anniversaries of Salesian houses or to personalities of the Salesian Family. The other three sections, namely that of Brazil, Argentina, and India are involved in various ways in the preparation of their continental seminars and, in the meantime as far as possible, they are accomplishing some projects for the cultivation of Salesian historical memory that can be carried out.
Among the items on the agenda were the issues of enhancing the potential of the ISS-ACSSA website, as well as a brief report on recent publications and, finally, the economic report. The admission of eight new members is also positive this year: Malgorzata LUKAWSKA, FMA – Poland (PLJ), Krzysztof LIS, SDB – Poland (PLE), Marek BABICZ, SDB – Poland (PLN), Dilza Maria MOREIRA DA SILVA, FMA – Brazil (BCB), Loredana CORAZZA, FMA – Italy (ILO), Vito MAURIZIO, SDB – Italy (INE), Gloria Elena GARCÍA PEREIRA, FMA – Colombia (CMA), Maria Dolores RUIZ PÉREZ, FMA – Spain (SPA).
At the request of ACSSA Poland, Fr. Jan KRAWIEC, SDB – Poland (PLS), professor emeritus in the Salesian Studentate in Krakow, was nominated as an Honorary Member in recognition of his numerous studies on the history of Salesian presences and, above all, on numerous Salesian personalities.
Currently ACSSA has 195 members, including 75 FMA, 102 SDB, and 18 lay people and members of groups of the Salesian Family.