Wim Collin

Università Pontificia Salesiana

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Salesian Forum 2020

The next meeting of the Salesian Forum will be held 25 to 28 August 2020 at Munich (Germany). The theme is fragility. I’ll be talking about the “fragility and vulnerability” in the life of Don Bosco.

More info on the Salesian Forum you can find here!

Articles on Saint Francis de Sales

From the September issue of Note di Pastorale Giovanile I will be contributing for a whole year articles on Saint Francis de Sales. They are thematic articles looking at how, 399 years after his death, Saint Francis can still have meaning for us today! In the first issue: what does he write about “friendship”? A Dutch version and an English version will hopefully appear later.

Saint Francis de Sales

Perfection does not consist in not having friends, but but in having good, holy and beautiful friendship.

Info on the Note di Pastorale Giovanile you can find here, together with the way to order the issue.

On YouTube with Saint Francis de Sales

On the occasion of the fourth centenary of the death of Saint Francis de Sales, the Canção Nova Community, a member of the Salesian Family, founded by Monsignor Jonas Abib, recorded some brief episodes on the charism and spirituality of Saint Francis de Sales.

In the first eight episodes, Fr Wim Collin SDB, professor of History and Spirituality di San Francesco di Sales at the Salesian Pontifical University, talks about some issues that the saint Savoyard deals with in his writings. For example: “How to know the will of God, for what reason one should meditate, what to do when you are angry …” These are short interventions that deal with both daily life and the spiritual life of each one.

The Canção Nova Community will post these episodes weekly on their website and YouTube channel. Their mission is to evangelize, to communicate Jesus, through the mass media. The Community tries to be present in (virtual) places where young people are. It was, therefore, a strategic choice to make short episodes of 5 minutes, enough to have a little insight, not too long to be distracted: ideal for having every week a brief reflection on Francis de Sales and deepen his spirituality of him.

You can find everything here on the website of Canção Nova!

Articles on Francis de Sales in “Note di Pastorale Giovanile”

The year 2022 will be a jubilee year because the entire Church, many congregations, institutions, commemorate the fourth centenary of the birth in Heaven of Saint Francis de Sales on December 28, 1622. There is no doubt that his legacy is significant even today. In every issue of the “Note di Pastorale Giovanile” from September 2021 until December 2022, I will be writing thematical articles on Saint Francis de Sales.

In the articles, I will deal with various themes: prayer, friendship, discernment, spiritual direction, love, murmuring, fidelity, growth in faith. We always start from what Francis himself wrote in his letters and masterpieces like “The Introduction to the Devout Life” and the “Treatise on Love of God.” We apply in the articles the same method suggested by Don Bosco’s third successor, Don Rinaldi, in one of his letters to the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. As Don Bosco in his time did with Saint Francis de Sales, “perfecting him and freeing him from what he could have no longer suited to the times,” so we look at Saint Francis de Sales and take away what is from the seventeenth century to keep what is essential to learn something for today. The articles are in Italian, for some of them a Dutch translation is available here. Click on the title to download the article.

September October 2021: Amicizia (Friendship)

November 2021: Meditazione (Meditation)

December 2021: Rabbia (Anger)

January 2022: Vocazione (Vocation)

February 2022: Tristezza (Sadness)

March 2022: Divino e umano (Divine and Human)

April – may 2022: Mormorare (Gossipping)

November 2022: San Giuseppe (Saint Joseph)

December 2022: Preghiera (Prayer)

February 2023: Musica

November 2023: Bees and honey

In Mysterion (Mysterion.it) appeared an article about the concept of Peace according to Saint Francis de Sales.

If you use the articles do not forget to mention my name!

Teaching with the virus

Since a couple of weeks, today is week 3, students are back at the university. This goes with it’s ups and downs, with mouth-masks and a lot of “amuchina” or gel to disinfect hands, in classrooms the students are sitting far from each other and we are asked to have no physical contact (so no hugging in class) or distribute papers. It is good to have the students back, and I hope we can go on as long as possible.

New this year is the course for the “chierici”, those Salesian students who prepare themselves to become a priest. I teach them the forms of Salesian vocation (priesthood and lay religious) for which I prepared an “antology” and the course of “Spirituality of Saint John Bosco” which I am doing at the “Pontificia Facoltà di Scienze dell’Educazione Auxilium”, the university of the Sisters of Don Bosco (FMA). Here I have a class full of sisters and in streaming the novices of the sisters in both the novitiates of Rome, and I have to say it works pretty well.

Let’s hope and pray we can continue like this.

Teaching in times of the virus

Since a couple of weeks now, Italy, Rome, and our university went in lock-down. Ore something like that. Well in the beginning it was something that, now it is really “gates closed and nobody enters”. But after two days of having closed the Whole university and having all classes suspended the department of didactics started to offer some courses on on-line teaching and video classes. The closing down changed from no classes on campus to on-line teaching. So I lost only about 4 hours of classes. Now everything is going by ZOOM. I learned a lot and I’ll use the system also when there is no virus anymore.

I live on campus, so I still come every morning to my office. There are some other collegues in the offices around me present as well, we can hear each other teaching on-line and it is pretty funny.

We will go on like this for a while I think. Maybe after easter-break on april 20th we will be back in the classroom, but that is far from sure. So let us make the best of it and stay home.

Journal of Salesian Studies

Recently I have been appointed director of the Journal of Salesian Studies. A journal that publishes twice a year articles about the history of Don Bosco and the Salesian Congregation, about Saint Francis de Sales, but also articles about Salesian education, communication, spirituality and so on. It is for me a great honor to lead this Journal in this new phase of its existence.

There has been made an agreement between the Institute of Salesian Spirituality of Berkeley (USA) (the owner of the Journal) and the Centro Studi Don Bosco of Rome (Italy) to relaunch the Journal. One of the reasons is that the second most spoken language of our Salesian congregation has become English. A second, but not less important reason is the fact that the congregation needs a journal in which on an academic level can be exchanged about education, spirituality, communication and history, but also can be thought about good practices, interpretation of don Bosco’s heritage and so on.

Therefore I went to Don Bosco Hall in Berkeley California. We had to make some practical arrangements to make this collaboration work. A fresh start has been taken, new arrangements have been made, so very soon the fruits will be visible. A new Journal will be published by next summer.

The website of the journal is here. And will be updated as soon as possible.

“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew.”

Saint Francis de Sales

Christmas wishes

Madame Marie Ghislaine Caroline Dons

Quando uno dice Berlaymont, si pensa subito al palazzo Berlaymont, attuale sede della Commissione Europea, cuore pulsante dell’Europa e del quartiere europeo, nel centro di Bruxelles. Fino agli anni sessanta del secolo scorso le «Chanoinesse régulière de Saint-Augustin sous l’invocation de la Vierge Marie, Reyne de tous les Saincts» e avevano una scuola per la nobiltà insieme con alcune opere di carità. Madama Marie Dons era una delle Canonichesse.

Monastère de Berlaymont (attorno al 1880)

Nell’Archivio Storico Salesiano sono conservato due lettere che Madame Dons ha scritto a Don Bosco. Una del dicembre 1887 e una un mese dopo nel gennaio 1888. Nella sua famiglia troviamo alcune persone che corrispondevano con il santo di Torino. Tutto insieme ci sono sei lettere a Roma, sicuramente c’erano di più.

I legami tre gli scrittori della famiglia Dons-de Marnix-du Chasteler-Cardon-Kramp

Dopo la morte di Don Bosco la Madame Dons continua la corrispondenza con il primo successore, Don Rua. Diverse volte le due si incontrano, ben cinque volte Rua è ospite nel monastero a Bruxelles, parla con le suore e fa delle conferenze per gli allievi.

La Madame Dons non era l’unica a scrivere lettere a Don Bosco. Lo studioso Wim Provoost recentemente ha pubblicato presso l’editrice LAS dell’Università Pontificia Salesiana l’edizione critica di tutte le lettere “belghe” che fin ora conosciamo. Grazie al lavoro di Provoost altre ricerche sono possibile. Così, studiando queste due lettere abbiamo già scoperto alcune novità, come per esempio la data in cui si comincia a parlare di Don Bosco in Belgio. Finora si pensava al 1867, adesso possiamo già dire 1861, due anni dopo la fondazione della congregazione salesiana. Nel video qua sotto Provoost racconta del suo lavoro.

Leggi anche nella rubrica “Past Activities“.

La presentazione si trova qua.

Il monastero e i lavori per il palazzo Berlaymont della Commissione Europea
La “nuova” lettera di Don Rua a Madame Dons

Unknown letter of Don Michele Rua in the Archive of the city of Brussels

(13 11 2019) Last Tuesday we have been working in the archives of the city of Brussels for a project about the letters to Don Bosco of Madame Dons a sister of the convent of Berlaymont in Brussels. She wrote to Don Bosco at the end of his life (December 1887 and January 1888) and after the death of him she stayed in contact with his successor Don Rua. The last one, several times went visit the convent of Berlaymont, and kept in touch with the sisters.

While verifying the archives, more exactly the “chronicles” of the convent we found in a pile of unsorted and not classified letters a letter to Madame Dons with the heading “Oratoire Salésien, Rue Cottolengo N. 32 Turin” and signed by Don Rua.

Very funny is that in the right angle of the paper is printed: “Please write always very clear your name and your address on every letter! So we don’t have to look for hours for the address of the people who write us when we want to write back!”

Finding this letter means that there has to be a whole correspondence between Madame Dons and Don Rua (that is not in the archive), because Rua is answering in the letter to some questions asked by Dons.

(14 11 2019) The director of the Archivio Salesiano Centrale, don Petr Zelinka, confirmed Yesterday that they did not know of the existence of the letter. So I’ll go back to the archive of Brussels and make proper pictures of it so we can complete the Fondo Don Rua of the Salesian Archive.

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