LOURDES Parish, Cebu City (May 24, 2021, 11:00 AM)The new provincial superior of the Salesian Province of Mary Help of Christians in southern Philippines has set the theme of his ministry as “renewed commitment and consistency in building communities for Christ.”

“Our personal and community actions need a committed and strong-willed restart. We have to do this individually and as communities,” declared Fr. Fidel Ma. Daza Orendain, SDB, Ph.D. in his message during his installation here at the Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Screengrab of the Facebook live coverage by Don Bosco FIS when the new provincial took his vows.

He emphasized to all Salesians that, to truly revitalize our service to Christ, they need persevering consistency in living out their consecrated life and in actualizing this mission, especially for the youth.

“While still in the midst of a pandemic, we have more challenges ahead of us in the coming years which we never had to deal with in the past,” he said referring to the health and economic crisis brought by the coronavirus disease of 2019 (CoViD-19).

Fr. Fidel takes his vows on the Holy Bible.

Orendain emphasized on the need to approach issues, people and problems that the local Salesian congregation face “calmy, prayerfully and without bias” that he would do with proper consultation, discernment, and information.

“When our opinions clash, and they will occasionally, I ask for your trust that I will put before God our differences so that He could sift and enlighten my motivations,” he appealed to his confrères on the day, May 24, they celebrated the Feast of Mary Help of Christians.

The Provincial emeritus blesses his successor.

Fr. Godofredo “Godo” Atienza, SDB, now provincial emeritus of what is referred to in Italian as Filippine Ispetoria Sud (FIS), first presided the holy mass that his successor assumed after his formal installation here in this parish church.

Priests, brothers and seminarians of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) and nuns of the Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice (FMA) or Daughters of Mary Help of Christians attended the ceremony along with some Salesian cooperators, Bosconian alumni and parents, and members of the Association of Mary Help of Christians (ADMA).

Fiat voluntas tua

The FIS limited the attendance to follow strict CoViD-19 protocols but broadcasted the event live through its Don Bosco FIS Facebook page that got shared in social media portals of SDB affiliated institutions and organizations.

Fr. Fidel signs his appointment papers from the Rector Major as Fr. Godo looks on.

Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime, SDB, 10th successor of St. John Bosco, appointed Fr. Fidel last Jan. 7 to succeed Fr. Godo as the sixth to shepherd 106 professed members, with 68 priests, 17 brothers, 21 candidates to priesthood and six novices in a province that includes a delegation in Pakistan,

Fr. Fidel is still in his second school year as Rector and School President of Don Bosco Technical College (DBTC) – Cebu. He steered the school through the crisis brought by the pandemic. He continues to have a direct hand of the school until he turns over to his successor before the new school year begins in July.

(Read: Rector Major appoints Fr. Fidel as next FIS superior)

The new Provincial raises the seal of Don Bosco FIS.

“Here I am. Fiat voluntas tua (Thy will be done). The spirit of St. John Bosco is in all of us,” announced Fr. Fidel in his message after consulting his mentor, Msgr. Patricio A. Buzon, SDB, D.D., current Bishop of Bacolod.

As he shared that he wrote in his journal after, he said he accepted the role, albeit with some hesitance, because it “affirms all what religious life stands for. Otherwise, the faith I preached would have had no meaning.”

After he took oath, Fr. Fidel assumes presiding the Holy Mass.

Fr. Fidel noted being in a turning point in history because of the “raging pandemic that continues to burden the world and challenge how we do Salesian ministry,” plus the decreasing vocations and aging members.

But he stressed that, as Pope Francis had expressed, “now is an appropriate time look at past with gratitude, to live the present with passion, and to embrace the future with hope.”

He said he is humbled by the huge responsibility laid on his shoulders. “I know fully well my own limitations and faults. I feel God’s call is His way to show mercy to me and assuring me of His grace,” he said.

Patient forbearance

Meanwhile, the new provincial superior paid tribute to his predecessor for “unselfishly leading and animating the province in the past six years. I appreciate his openness, simplicity and kindness.”

He asked Fr. Godo to “keep close and keep your door open. Know that we are still in need of your guidance. We’ll call upon you once in a while.”

To all Salesians, Fr. Fidel said he noted the needs of the province they expressed during consultations but asked them to “tone down your expectations” of the “milestones to reach” and “challenges to hurdle.”

Consecration.

“I do not bring with me a list of promises that would needlessly raise expectations to unnecessary heights. But I honestly can say that I will do my best to work for the ministry,” he explained.

Instead, he asked them to work with him. “Allow me to journey with you and encourage you,” pointing out that “I do not claim to have all the contemporary strategies or solutions to the challenges we are facing and we are going to face.”

Peace be with you.

Fr. Fidel also asked the Salesians he will lead for their “patient forbearance and determined effort to do your share towards rekindling zeal for the work entrusted by God to Don Bosco and his members.”

“I cannot, even with the best effort, reignite passion for the ministry without your help. Together, let us fan into flames what God has placed in each of us,” he said.

“We have so much to do. There is no room for sluggishness. For this, I ask the continued prayers of the Salesian family,” he added.

The new shepherd and some of his sheep.