D ear brothers and friends of
the Salesian missions,
Today we remember the first mission-
ary expedition of Don Bosco on No-
vember 11, 1875 which deeply
marked not only the course of the
Salesian history, but also the very
physiognomy of the Salesian charism.
Don Bosco himself had sent 11 mis-
sionary expeditions. In 1888, 20% of
the Salesians were in the missions
of America! What impact the 11,000 missionaries sent
from 1875 to 2013 had on our charism, spirituality and
What was the impact on the Salesian holiness!
Even Papa Francesco recognises the first missionaries in
Patagonia as models of Christian life fruitful (La Civiltà
Cattolica, September 20, 2013). Among the saints,
blessed, venerable servants of God of the Salesian Family
are 25 or missionaries or fruits of the first evangelisation
of the missionaries! Indeed, the DNA of our Congregation
is certainly missionary!
Fr. Václav Klement, SDB
Councillor for the Missions
Why send us missionaries?
We are not a poor country!
It is not rare to hear Salesians from technologi-
cally developed countries asking “Why send us
missionaries? We are not a poor country!” Simi-
larly, some missionaries from countries once con-
sidered ‘mission land’ also wonder the sense of
being sent to a materially well-off or technologi-
cally developed countries. To many Salesians here
lies the non verbalised ‘problem’ regarding the
last General Chapter’s directive to relaunch the
charism in Europe by making the necessary inter-
ventions to renew the Salesian presence in the
continent (GC 26, 108, 111) now known as
Actually the problem is deeper than mere socio-
geography! It is rooted in the selective compre-
hension of ‘mission’ expressed in Ad Gentes no. 6
understood solely as unidirectional movement
from ‘Christian’ countries to ‘pagan’ lands and of
Evangelii Nuntiandi no. 31 where human promo-
tion and development are seen as the most impor-
tant components of mission. It seems that the un-
derstanding of mission of many has fossilised here.
Yet, already way back in 1991, John Paul II had
insisted in Redemptoris Missio nn. 33-34 that mis-
sion cannot be seen anymore solely in unidirec-tional
geographic terms but primarily as the proclamation of Jesus Christ in interpenetrating contexts
where there is a need of either missio ad gentes, ordinary pastoral activity or new evangelisation. Thus, he
called for interdependence and mutual assistance between churches in what was traditionally called ‘Christian
countries’ and ‘mission countries.’ It is in this light that Pope Benedict XVI invited the Church in Africa “to
contribute to the new evangelisation in secularised countries” which “are today sadly lacking in vocations.”
This, he underlined, is not a weakening of missionary impulse ad gentes but “a concrete sign” of its
“fruitfulness”! (Africae Munus no. 167). With this renewed vision of mission
Pope Francis continually invites Catholics to go “to the fringes of society” to
proclaim the Gospel.
Thus, the Rector Major’s insistence that Project Europe is a
“Congregational Project” which involves “all Regions and Provinces” (GC 26,
p.147) primarily demands from all Salesians a conversion of mind and
heart to appropriate this epochal change in the understanding of ‘mission.’
Only then will there be a multidirectional exchange of Salesian missionaries
animated by mutual trust and openness which, in the final analysis, will en-
rich all Provinces and renew the whole Congregation!
Fr. Alfred Maravilla
Like the first Salesian Missionaries in America, I also serve migrants … in Europe!
M y missionary vocation was born when I was in the Salesian prenovitiate
thanks to the screening of a video on Father Luis Bolla and his mission
among the Achuar Indians of the Peruvian Amazon. This touched my heart
and I could not get out of my mind the desire to go work one day among those most
in need. Thus, during the novitiate, I expressed the desire to be sent to the mission
ad gentes to the Regional, who is our current Rector Major. He said I should finish
my studies in philosophy before I can expect a response regarding my desire. When I
started Practical Training in 2001, I was sent along with 4 other missionaries, to
start the first Salesian community in the Peruvian Amazon and work among the Indians of 7 tribes. My dream
was becoming a reality. I did the first year of my Practical Training among the Indians and then I was trans-
ferred to Lima to work among street children.
After finishing my theological studies I expressed the desire to go to the mission ad gentes, ad extra. I
got the answer in 2010 when I was working already as a priest among the Indians of the Amazon. The destina-
tion was to be part of Project Europe. Thus, I was sent initially to Ireland and then to Genoa - Sampierdarena
to work among Latin American migrants. Of course I encountered difficulties due to culture shock : the lan-
guage, the fraternal relations , the way of seeing the Salesian charism from a secular and secularising world,
the difficulty of integrating faith and life, etc. . , even among us Salesians, the little effort in fostering inte-
The New Course for New Missionaries was very useful, because I was going to a completely different cul-
ture to mine and we had been prepared for this during the course. Besides it was very useful to help me take
these steps towards integration and analysis of the various European realities. It had forewarned us of all the
difficulties we would meet. The knowledge of the sources of the Salesian charism, the week on spirituality, the
exchange of experiences of new missionaries were topics that have helped me tremendously.
Some people ask me: “We need missionaries in Peru, why go as a missionary among Latin Americans in
Europe”? My answer in this regard is: one of the main tasks of the first Salesian missionaries was the care of
Italian migrants in America. Today, my primary task is to take
care of Latin American migrants in Genoa who have waited so
long for the presence of a Latin American priest. I know that
there is so much need in my country and I have experienced it
myself, but I also know that here there is a huge need as well
for Latin American migrants to be able to rediscover their cul-
ture, to be comforted and listened to especially in these times
of crisis at all levels: economic, social, political, cultural and
religious. That's why I never tire of thanking God for guiding
my life and the lives of all the missionaries who are part of
Project Europe according to His will.
Fr. Daniel Coronel,
The Course for New Missionaries for the members of the 144th Salesian Missionary Expedition
(https://vimeo.com/77022954), prepared by Fr. Roman Sikon of “Group 43” (Poland).
Salesian Missionary Intention
For CAM 4 (the whole american continent)
That the CAM 4 and COMLA 9 in Maracaibo, Venezuela, may foster
the relauching of missionary zeal throughout the continent .
For the successful implementation of the American Missionary Congress (CAM 4) and Latin
American Missionary Congress (COMLA 9) in Maracaibo, Venezuela (26 November-1 December
2013). Before CAM4 SDBs and FMAs from various Provinces of America will gather for the Study Days on the initial
proclamation of Jesus Christ in America (Venezuela) and then participate in the CAM4 which follows. Let us pray
that the experiences may re-launch the missionary zeal in the continent. It is important that Christians of America
grow in consciousness and commitment of their responsibility to proclaim the Gospel in their settings, but also be-
yond its own continent, fulfilling what the bishops already pointed out in the Puebla Document (CELAM, 1979): “It
's true that we ourselves need of missionaries ... But we must give from our poverty” (368).