VATICAN CITY, APRIL 8, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The Salesians have elected a 54-year-old Mexican, Father Pascual Chávez Villanueva, as their new rector major.
Father Chávez was elected to a six-year term at the 25th general chapter of the Society of St. Francis of Sales, which began in Rome at the end of February. On hand are 232 religious representing 17,000 Salesians in 128 countries.
Elected on the first vote April 3, Father Chávez is succeeding Argentine Father Juan Edmundo Vecchi, who died Jan. 23 after a long illness.
In accepting the office, Don Bosco´s ninth successor said: “I said yes to the Lord who was calling me, on the day of my first religious profession. Today I continue to say yes to the same call, which he expresses through you.”
The new rector major said he hoped to be a faithful reflection of Don Bosco for young people and for the whole Salesian family, which includes women religious (Daughters of Mary Help of Christians) and lay people (Salesian Cooperators).
Pascual Chávez was born Dec. 20, 1947, at Real de Catorce, in the mining district in central Mexico. He made his first profession on Aug. 16, 1964, at Coacalco, Mexico, and was ordained a priest Dec. 12, 1973.
He studied at the Biblical Institute in Rome from 1975-77, and received a licentiate in sacred Scripture. He obtained a doctorate in biblical theology in 1996 from the University of Salamanca.
As provincial superior of the inspectorate of northern Mexico, he was primarily concerned with the youth on the U.S.-Mexican border, especially in Tijuana.