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Father Greenfield Discusses Salesian Reboot at Inaugural Father John Graden Memorial Lecture

by Paige Hawk Dec 1, 2021

What advice might Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Jane de Chantal give to a post-COVID world? That was the focus of the first-ever Father John Graden, OSFS, Memorial Lecture.

Embraced by God Ministries and The North American Salesian Network (NASN) partnered with DeSales University for the inaugural lecture, which featured a presentation by Father James Greenfield, OSFS ’84, president of DeSales, during which he discussed a “Salesian Reboot in a (hopefully) Post-COVID World.”

Fr. Greenfield began by offering a prayer and remarking on his connection to Fr. Graden. 

“I met John Graden when I was a seminarian. … He really was a superb oblate of St. Francis de Sales, a passionate preacher, I loved his parish missions, and so I’m honored to be the lecturer in this series that’s dedicated to John.”

To contextualize the topic of his lecture, Fr. Greenfield discussed how both St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal, prominent figures from which Salesian spirituality stems, lived through a pandemic—the second wave of the bubonic plague that swept Europe in the 1500s. 

Building on this, he asked, “Given the unique history and charism bequeathed to us by Francis and Jane and given the realities of these sometimes-uncertain times for our Church and our world, as Salesian disciples, what does the Church, God’s people, most need from us right now?”

Fr. Greenfield indicated that for a Salesian reboot in the post-COVID world to occur, individuals need to revisit several key themes present throughout Salesian spirituality. He said, “We grow from the heart outward, by taking off our masks. We embrace our relationships and our work … and we foster inner peace in the midst of activity and busyness, not succumbing to frenzy and speed and the tyranny of the urgent.”

In addition to Fr. Greenfield, Ian Kinney, director of operations and ministries at Embraced by God, and Dan Kerns, coordinator for NASN, offered remarks. 

Kerns encouraged viewers to visit Embraced by God’s website for more resources and to donate to “help Fr. Graden’s work continue and to follow in his wonderful legacy.”