National Vocations Awareness Week
Hayward Salesian missioner
heads to South Sudan
Nicholas Ynami, 26, of Hayward, a member of St. Joachim Parish, is headed to Gumbo, South Sudan, a suburb of the capital city, Juba, as a Salesian Lay Missioner.
He's not sure what specific duties he'll be given, and he's prepared to be very flexible about that. The mission includes a parish, school and youth center, and it has become a de facto refugee camp, although a fairly small one.
As a youngster, Ynami lived in San Francisco and attended the Salesian parish school of Corpus Christi, where "the Salesians played an important role in fostering my spiritual life, which has greatly affected how deep my faith is today." His parents, Raul and Carmen Ynami, also attend St. Joachim's in Hayward.
Ynami was one of 14 Salesian Lay Missioners commissioned by Salesian provincial superior Rev. Steve Shafran, SDB, assisted by Rev. Mark Hyde, SDB, and Adam Rudin, at a celebration of the Eucharist on Aug. 14, near the end of their retreat at the Don Bosco Retreat Center in Haverstraw, New York. One missioner wasn't present.
Father Hyde is director of Salesian Missions in New Rochelle, New York, and Rudin is director of the SLM program within Salesian Missions.
Ynami was graduated from San Diego State University with majors in theater design and technology, and Asian-Pacific studies. Since graduation he has worked full-time as an events technology specialist for PSAV (formerly Presentation Services Audiovisual).
He joined the SLMs because he "could not pass up the chance to give back to the community that once helped me to become the person I am today. My hope is that as a Salesian Lay Missioner I can have an impact on the life of a child the same way the Salesians did on me when I was a child." He also says, "I expect to grow deeper in my faith, learn from the community I will be helping, and gain memorable experiences that I will take with me for the rest of my life."
Ynami has set up a blog for his SLM experiences at http://nickssalesiangumbo.blogspot.com. He was scheduled to leave for Juba this month.
A retreat with its commissioning rite was the culmination of an orientation period that began in New Rochelle on July 23. The orientation included an introduction to St. John Bosco, the Salesian Family, and Don Bosco's spirituality and educational method; cross-cultural and safe environment/youth protection training; a week of practical ministry at the Salesian summer day camp and the soup kitchen in Port Chester, New York; participation in the Salesians' Mass of perpetual profession on Aug. 9; interactions with various Salesians, especially during the Aug. 9-15 retreat; and a lot of recreation and other fun (including a picnic, Mass and hike at Bear Mountain State Park and a soccer game against the younger Salesians on retreat).
During the orientation, Rudin was assisted by returned SLMs Amber Kraft, Emmanuel Mendez and Matthew Bauer. Mendez was already signed up to do another SLM stint, helping to start a new Salesian mission in Morobo, South Sudan. During the retreat, Father Stephen Ryan talked Bauer into coming down to Tampa for a second SLM year (he was in Juba, South Sudan, last year).
Six of the missionaries will be heading to South Sudan: Colleen Burns and Emmanuel Mendez to the new mission at Morobo; Michael Gordon and Ynami to Juba; and Taylor McColgan and Catherine McNeal to Wau.
Two each have been designated for Cochabamba, Bolivia: Erin Brennan and Katherine Stolz; Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Colleen Quigley and Cara Weidinger; Da Lat, Vietnam: Daniel Mathews and Stephen Widelski; and Tampa, Florida: Matthew Bauer and Daniel Morrissey.
Widelski wasn't involved with the orientation; this will be his sixth mission with the SLMs since 1998. He's served in Bolivia, Sierra Leone, Venezuela, Brazil and South Sudan — besides several missions with other organizations. He's done catechesis, teaching, mentoring, driving, humanitarian aid, translation and parish work.
The seven men and seven women of the 2015 class of SLMs range in age from 21 to 62, with 29 as the average. Their geographical spread encompasses the whole country: the (arch)dioceses of Arlington, Virginia; Boston (two); Detroit; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Mayaguez, Puerto Rico; Oakland; Pensacola-Tallahassee; Philadelphia; Phoenix; St. Louis; St. Paul; Toledo, Ohio; and Worcester, Massachusetts.
Father Shafran presided over the SLM commissioning Mass and bestowed their crosses on the missionaries. Father Hyde preached and assisted as they signed their commitment papers. Rudin called them forward and announced their missions to the congregation, which included about 40 Salesians on retreat.
Father Shafran introduced the commissioning rite as "a graced moment for the Salesian Family and the Congregation." He cited the self-sacrificing love of St. Maximilian Kolbe, the saint of the day, adding that any mission in life calls us to spend our lives as Jesus did. He said that it's a grace that we can send forth men and women to touch the lives of the young around the world.
In his homily, Father Hyde said that we were in a "triduum of commitment," starting with the SLMs, continuing the next day with eight Salesians' renewing their temporary vows, and concluding with the first profession of vows by five novices on the 16th. He said it was a blessing to begin this triduum on the memorial of St. Maximilian.
Father Hyde compared St. Maximilian with Don Bosco as a devotee of our Lady and a man led by a dream, offering specific examples from the Franciscan priest-martyr's life. He was like Don Bosco, also, in his devotion to the Pope, his use of the press to defend the Catholic faith, and his missionary heart.
Alluding to the optional gospel reading for St. Maximilian's memorial, Father Hyde continued by calling upon Salesians to sacrifice their lives for their friends (Don Bosco famously said, "Anyone in trouble is my friend."), as St. Maximilian sacrificed his. He went on to note that it was Christ who chose men to be Salesians, and they respond to that call by making Jesus and Mary their friends and by serving the poor and the needy.
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