“Everything fades away, but not our gratitude. We shall always pray that God will abundantly bless those who have been so good to us.”
-St. John Bosco
Two years ago, I was given the assignment to join Fr. Gus Baek as assistant director of Salesian Missions. Humbled by that assignment and eager to learn, I could not have imagined that instead, I would soon be taking the reins.
Like each of you, I am saddened by Fr. Gus’ untimely loss to cancer. He was a gentle, compassionate and highly effective leader and friend whose legacy, while far too brief, still shines brightly throughout our corridors—guiding us forward as we navigate the uncharted weeks and months ahead. I promise to keep that torch lit until our Rector Major, Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime, asks me to pass it along to Fr. Gus’ permanent replacement.
If I learned anything from Fr. Gus during our short time together, it was how much he loved the children and families in our mission, and how sincerely he appreciated you, our loyal and compassionate friends. I will continue to do both to the best of my ability.
Before joining Fr. Gus, I was privileged to travel throughout the Americas, from Canada to Chile, as the Salesians’ representative for the Inter-America region. During that six-year-period, I witnessed the power of your generosity among some of the poorest of the poor through our missionaries’ presence in schools, parishes, youth centers, shelters and so much more. I directly experienced our work with marginalized and at-risk youth from the big capitals of Medellín, Colombia and Quito, Ecuador to some of the most remote indigenous communities in Mexico, Guatemala and Peru. I was humbled by the many sacrifices made by these dedicated men and women of Don Bosco, and by their passion for improving lives and futures. More than that, I was moved by the many heartwarming ways your kindness makes a tangible difference around the world.
As Don Bosco himself would have, Fr. Gus recognized you as a “sign and bearer of God’s love” for those under our care. Thank you for entrusting me with your own passion for our mission, and thank you for your continued prayers as I steward it forward.
God bless you,
Father Timothy Ploch, S.D.B.