By Fr. Michael Mendl, S.D.B.
Luke Ebener of Davenport and Marcy Mueller of DeWitt were among 18 candidates recently commissioned as Salesian Lay Missioners by the New Rochelle Province of the Salesians of Don Bosco. The commissioning took place in August at the Don Bosco Retreat Center in Haverstraw-Stony Point, N.Y.
Ebener is now serving at the Salesian mission in Juba, South Sudan, which includes a school and youth centers. He is blogging about his mission at http://lukeebener.blogspot.com.
Ebener, 25, is a member of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport. He is the son of Josh and Shelley Ebener of Chatham, Ill., members of St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Springfield. Luke graduated from St. Ambrose University in Davenport with a major in accounting and finance. He joined the SLMs “to help spread the Good News to the children of the world and be a living example of the Gospel.” He hopes “to bring light and hope to all I encounter in South Sudan.”
The website of the Salesians in South Sudan and Sudan is www.donboscosudan.org.
Mueller will serve with the Salesians in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, teaching and assisting with various projects. The 22-year-old and her parents, William and Audrey Mueller of DeWitt, are members of St. Joseph Parish there. Marcy graduated from St. Mary’s University in Winona, Minn., majoring in youth ministry and human services. She chose to join the SLMs because “I want to bring Christ’s love to the youth of the world. I also want to help make the world a more peaceful and loving place … by teaching and working with young people.”
The Web page of the Salesians in Ethiopia and Eritrea is www. sdbaet.org.
Bishop Luc Van Looy, S.D.B., of Ghent, Belgium, presided over the commissioning rite, assisted by Adam Rudin, director of the SLM program, Megan Fraino, director of the SDV program, and Father Thomas Dunne, S.D.B., the provincial superior.
The commissioning was the culmination of three weeks of orientation that included intercultural awareness, safety issues, conflict resolution, introduction to Don Bosco and the Salesian charism, practical experience in the Salesian summer day camp in Port Chester, N.Y., the nitty-gritty details of travel overseas and a six-day retreat.
The commissioning rite took place within a Votive Mass for the Evangelization of Peoples. Father Stephen Leake, S.D.B., presided and preached. Using the reading of the day from the prophet Ezekiel (16:1-15,60,63), he challenged the youthful volunteers to remember who they are, to give themselves completely to God’s love, and to let others know that they are loved too.
The Salesians of Don Bosco are the second-largest congregation of religious men in the Catholic Church. They serve the young, the poor, and mission populations through academic and trade schools, universities, youth centers, hospices, orphanages, parishes, mission stations, medical clinics, the media and other ministries in 137 countries around the world. Since 1981 some 380 participants in the SLM program have served for periods of one to three years alongside the Salesians, the Salesian Sisters, or affiliated groups in about 35 different countries.
For more information about the Salesian Lay Missioners, go to http://salesianlaymissioners.org/home. For the Salesian Domestic Volunteers, or “home missioners,” go to www.salesianym.com/domesticvolunteers.