After several days of vacation (during the recent Christmas holidays), the brothers in my community of the Seminaryo ng Don Bosco have long since come back and regrouped. It was such a nice sight on their return that night: there was that unmistakable air of communitarian camaraderie and fraternal joy. Everyone felt these two things more strongly, as it were, after a period of absence from each other (even for just a few days).
In my case now, I am also pondering what will soon be for me a permanent absence instead from my present community. This is linked with a transition to a new community, in a new locale, in a new assignment.
For those who still might not yet know: I have been given a new “obedience.” (That’s how we religious typically call it.) I am to be the Rector of our community and work in Batulao (in Nasugbu, Batangas), for next academic year 2017-2018. Don Bosco Batulao is our “center of spirituality” (a retreat house, open to anyone), located just a little past Tagaytay City. I will be with four fellow-Salesians, twenty-odd full-time lay staff, and finally over a hundred high school and college boys and girls who are our scholars. (Not to mention, of course, our “clientele” — the hundreds of retreatants, individuals and groups — who come over and hold their retreats in our house.)
Even if my actual transfer will still take place much later, already now I feel keenly the realities of change and novelty. Such, after all, is life in an evolving world with its ever-present and constant reality of change. And that is why flexibility, adaptation, and patience will always be necessary too. Anyway, aren’t all these wonderful signs precisely of a mature youthfulness?
To those who are curious about what I am going to do there in Batulao, here’s a summary which I shared with a Facebook friend upon hearing of the news from me: “Retreats, confessions, spiritual direction, counseling — they all come with the job. Plus: gardening, interior decoration, maintenance and construction (plumbing, electrical, structural, etc.), hotel and restaurant management, culinary arts, financial administration, etc. — bring it on! And I still have to write and publish my books!”
What are all these, if not front-line, in-the-trenches youth ministry? And yes — notwithstanding the geographical distance and traffic, I will still continue to teach youth ministry courses in Don Bosco Center of Studies, as well as to continue contributing to its Research, Development and Communications Office and website.
As a Salesian of Don Bosco and as a youth minister (aren’t the two the same anyway?), I welcome with humility this new assignment, this opportunity to be of greater service to my congregation. And for sure my brothers, the seminarians and formators of the Seminaryo ng Don Bosco, will always be welcome there in Batulao!
MartYM or Fr. Martin Macasaet, SDB, SThD is a professor of Youth Ministry. He received his Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome.