Council Resources

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Missionary Formation
of the Salesians
of Don Bosco
Missions department - Formation department
Rome 2014Editrice S.D.B.
Edizione extra commerciale
Direzione Generale Opere Don Bosco
Via della Pisana, 1111
Casella Postale 18333
00163 Roma
Translated from the Italian original:
La Formazione Missionaria dei Salesiani di Don Bosco
by Julian B. Fox and Alfred Maravilla3
PRESENTATION .................................................................................... 5
ABBREVIATIONS .................................................................................. 9
INTRODUCTION.................................................................................... 11
INITIAL FORMATION ............................................................................ 13
Prenovitiate.............................................................................. 13
Contents to be emphasised ..................................................... 13
Attitudes to be fostered ......................................................... 14
Experiences to be encouraged ................................................. 14
Novitiate.................................................................................. 14
Contents to be emphasised ..................................................... 15
Attitudes to be fostered ........................................................ 15
Experiences to be encouraged ................................................ 16
Postnovitiate ............................................................................ 16
Contents to be emphasised .................................................... 17
Attitudes to be fostered ........................................................ 17
Experiences to be encouraged ................................................ 18
Practical Training ...................................................................... 18
Contents to be emphasised .................................................... 18
Attitudes to be fostered ........................................................ 19
Experiences to be encouraged ................................................ 19
Specific Formation of Salesian Priests and Brothers ...................... 20
Contents to be emphasised .................................................... 20
Attitudes to be fostered ........................................................ 21
Experiences to be encouraged ................................................ 21
ONGOING FORMATION .......................................................................... 23
Contents to be emphasised ......................................................... 23
Attitudes to be fostered ............................................................. 23
Experiences to be encouraged ..................................................... 24
Table of Contents4
SPECIFIC FORMATION OF THE SALESIAN MISSIONARY ....................................... 27
Discernment ............................................................................. 27
Criteria for discernment ......................................................... 27
Persons involved .................................................................. 27
Counter indications ............................................................... 27
Insufficient elements ............................................................ 28
General Criteria .................................................................... 28
Specific Preparation .................................................................. 29
Discernment ......................................................................... 30
Preparation .......................................................................... 31
Insertion ............................................................................. 32
Ongoing Formation ............................................................... 33
APPENDICES ...................................................................................... 35
The Salesian Missionary Vocation ................................................. 35
Who is the Missionary Today? ...................................................... 43
The Mission Group ...................................................................... 46
The Missionary Aspirantate ......................................................... 50
The Urgent Need for Missionary Animation..................................... 52
The Salesian Mission Day 1988-2015 ............................................ 58
Some Centres for Postgraduate Studies ......................................... 60DIREZIONE GENERALE OPERE DON BOSCO
Via della Pisana 1111 - 00163 Roma
The General Councillor for the Missions
The General Councillor for Formation
Rome, January 24, 2013
Prot. 13/0033
Subject: Missionary Formation of the Salesians of Don Bosco
Dear Confreres,
We are sending you these reflections and proposals concerning
the “missionary formation of the Salesians of Don Bosco”. These are the result
of the joint work of our Missions and Formation sectors, after consulting with
the respective Province Delegates; these find their foundation in the duty
which the Constitutions assign to the Councillor for the Missions regarding “the
specific preparation and updating of the missionaries” (C. 138); they were ap-
proved by the Rector Major and his Council on January 23, 2013.
We are acquainted with the missionary awareness which Don Bosco had
gradually developed over his lifetime and which had matured through the
sending of the first missionary expedition on November 11, 1875, and with
successive expeditions. Similarly, we are aware of Don Bosco's “Souvenir for
missionaries” which the Rector Major, Fr. Pascual Chávez, had taken up again in
his letter “The inculturation of the Salesian charism” (ACG 412, Rome 2011).
We also see today the missionary commitment of the Congregation, likewise
codified in Article 6 of the Constitutions.
These reflections and proposals seek to keep the missionary spirit of the
Congregation alive. At a time of globalisation and migration we need to be
open to pastoral and intercultural formation. The Church's commitment to the
5new evangelisation and ordinary evangelisation demands that we continue to
push the frontiers of first evangelisation. The need to establish international
communities and Project Europe are a call to missionary mobility in the Congre-
In particular, these notes offer a twofold purpose. Above all they aim at the
growth of missionary awareness in every confrere as well as the capacity for
missionary promotion among young people and the laity; we know the poten-
tial of mission groups and of the missionary volunteer service for pastoral work,
which open the young people to a style of life that is simple and in solidarity
with the poor, and which engages them in the cause of the Gospel and chal-
lenges them in their Salesian consecrated vocation.
Secondly, they aim at offering a range of strategies for discovering, dis-
cerning and developing a true Salesian missionary vocation. Such a vocation is
born, grows and develops as a gift of God, following the evangelising commit-
ment of Jesus and through the impulse of the Holy Spirit; at the same time its
historical circumstances require our cooperation.
We entrust these reflections and proposals to the commitment of the
Provinces so that they may bear abundant “missionary” fruit during the immi-
nent bicentenary of the birth of Don Bosco.
Cordial greetings and thank you for your attention.
Fr. Vaclav Klement, SDB Fr. Francesco Cereda, SDB
Councillor for the Missions Councillor for Formation
6Const. Constitutions of the Society of St Francis de Sales.
BM Biographical Memoirs of St. John Bosco. 19 vol. (Salesiana Pu-
blishers: New Rochelle, 1965-2002).
FSDB The Formation of the Salesians of Don Bosco. Principles and
Norms. (Editrice SDB: Rome, 2000).
GSSFI Guidelines concerning Salesian Studies during Initial Forma-
tion. Methodology and Distribution of Study Courses during
the Various Phases of Formation (Rome, 2005).
Reg. Regulations of the Society of St Francis de Sales.
RM John Paul II, Encíclica Redemptoris Missio (1991).
SSCS Salesian Social Communications System. Guidelines for the Sa-
lesian Congregation. Second edition (Editrice SDB: Rome,
AbbreviationsT This document seeks to encourage every Salesian to
keep alive Don Bosco’s missionary zeal alive through for-
mation, and enable him to be a missionary animator as
well as help him to discern whether God is calling him to
be a missionary ad gentes.
This document highlights the contents, attitudes, expe-
riences for various moments of formation. The contents are
offered to highlight the missionary aspect of the forma-
tion experience; attitudes to be cultivated and experiences
to be promoted are also indicated. These are contents, at-
titudes and experiences to be continually deepened in the
various stages. Since the formation communities are lo-
cated in different settings, the various proposals need to
be contextualised.
At the end of the document specific issues are present-
ed: criteria for discernment of the Salesian missionary vo-
cation and formation of the Salesian missionary.
The pre-novitiate is the first stage of formation; it
aims at stirring up interest in and enthusiasm for the
Salesian vocation; it offers an experience of Salesian
community and apostolic life where pre-novices deepen
their vocational choice; it helps the pre-novices to ma-
ture in various human and Christian aspects as mis-
sionary disciples 1 and fosters their preparation for the
Contents to be emphasised:
– the study of Don Bosco's life shows his zeal for souls,
also expressed through his desire to go to the mis-
sions since his early years of priestly formation and
which developed following his launching of the mis-
sionary frontier of the Congregation when he was
much older;
– a description of the current presences of the Congre-
gation offers pre-novices an insight into the variety of
the Salesian mission in different countries and en-
thuses them particularly regarding the work mission-
aries do in different parts of the world, despite the
challenges and difficulties they encounter 2 ;
– the presentation of historical figures and current wit-
nesses of Salesian life also offers the pre-novices the
example of missionaries from whom they can draw in-
spiration for their lives.
1 CELAM V, Aparecida.
Documento Final, n.
146, 216-220, 278
(Conferencia Epis-
copal Peruana: Lima,
2007) 62, 118-119,
143-145. The docu-
ment emphasises
that all Christians are
called to be mis-
sionary disciples of
Christ. Consecrated
life is living this mis-
sionary discipleship
2 Cf. GSSFI, 1.2; 1.3.
Initial FormationT
Attitudes to be fostered:
– gratitude for the faith received, interest in study of
the catechism, the joy of knowing and loving Christ
and the Church, the desire to share his faith with
– openness to different social and cultural realities of
their country and the world, to situations of poverty, to
the reality of many young people who are like “sheep
without a shepherd” (Mt 9, 36), and thus the sense of
compassion and solidarity;
– apostolic generosity which leads to a simple life and
to the free gift of self, fruit of a Salesian spirituality
that requires commitment to responsible service.
Experiences to be encouraged:
– know the work of missionaries in one’s Province, in
the local church, in one’s country and around the
world, for example through videos and visits by mis-
– be part of a missionary group in the pre-novitiate;
– experience the sharing of one’s faith with others, with
other pre-novices and with young people;
– commit themselves in catechesis and in the aposto-
late, stirring up questions about the meaning of life
in young people, fostering interest in the faith, cre-
ating the desire to know the figure of Jesus.
The novitiate is the beginning of the experience of
Salesian consecrated life. The novices increasingly con-
figure themselves to Christ the Good Shepherd as his mis-
14sionary disciples, deepening their relationship of love
and friendship with him. By starting to live the conse-
crated life, they learn to situate themselves in the heart
of the Church and place themselves entirely at the
service of its mission 3 . As the Ratio states,”the service of
the Kingdom, the witness to the Gospel, a sense of
Church and missionary enthusiasm are all characteristics
of the novitiate experience” 4 .
Contents to be emphasised:
– the study of the Memoirs of the Oratory with the in-
tent of helping the novices understand the oratorian
heart of Don Bosco as an expression of his missionary
zeal and his apostolic inner life 5 ;
– contact with holiness lived out by some significant
figures of the Salesian Family, particularly by mission-
aries, and the reflection on the characteristics of their
holiness in view of fostering the growth of a mis-
sionary heart among the novices 6 ;
– the study of the Salesian Family with a view to broad-
ening the horizons of the novices through collabora-
tion and contribution of members of the Salesian
Family and the laity, in the fulfilment of the Salesian
mission, with particular reference to the missions.
Attitudes to be fostered:
– the willingness to identify oneself ever more with the
sentiments of Jesus and with his commitment, so that
all people may know the Gospel, and desire to see him
known and loved by all, especially to young people;
– identification with the missionary heart of Don Bosco
and the desire to become signs of the Father's love, es-
pecially for young people who do not know Jesus;
3 Cf. Const. 6.
4 FSDB 366.
5 Cf. GSSFI 2.1.
6 Cf. GSSFI 2.3.
– the ardour of the Da mihi animas that leads the novices
to the total gift of self to God in religious profession
according to the way of life traced out by Don Bosco;
– a positive attitude towards the missions and Salesian
missionaries and a growing interest and willingness to
offer themselves to the missions, if this is the will the
God for them.
Experiences to be encouraged:
– take advantage of the possibility of insertion in the
social and apostolic context 7 and express pastoral
charity at the service of the Kingdom through various
educational and pastoral experiences, in order to have
the possibility of “knowing and experiencing the
world of the young, especially of the poorest” 8 ;
– foster prayer for missionaries and the missions 9 , espe-
cially Eucharistic adoration and the Rosary;
– interact in a friendly manner, where possible, with
young people of other religions;
– maintain contacts with some Salesian missionary,
preferably from one’s own Province;
– be involved in the annual celebration of Salesian Mis-
sions Day, in the monthly remembrance of the mis-
sions every 11th of the month, and in personal prayer
for missionary vocations and the missionary needs of
the Church and the Congregation.
The post-novitiate is the stage in which the newly
professed Salesian strengthens the vocational experience
of the novitiate for what concerns Salesian consecrated
life; where he prepares himself for practical training, en-
ters into dialogue with culture through philosophical,
7 Cf. Reg. 89.
8 FSDB 367.
9 Cf. RM 78.
16pedagogical and catechetical studies and integrates
faith, culture and life 10 .
Contents to be emphasised:
– critical and Christian reading of culture and ecclesial
and world events, in order to understand their impli-
cations today for evangelisation, especially among
young people;

– the study of the history of the Congregation and the
Salesian work, with particular reference to its mis-
sionary expansion in the world 11 ;
– the study of the Preventive System with attention to
its inculturation especially in today's multicultural and
multi-religious context 12 ;
– knowledge of the phenomenon of migration and its so-
cial, cultural and religious challenges;
– the study of catechesis and social communication to
learn how to bring the Gospel to young people, and
particularly to those who are indifferent, non-be-
lievers, or non-Christians;
– knowledge of the Criteria for the Discernment of the
Salesian Missionary Vocation in order to initiate a pos-
sible discernment of a missionary vocation.
Attitudes to be fostered:
– critical and compassionate openness to the social,
cultural and religious situation in one’s country and in
the world, especially of young people, and to listen to
the cry of the people for a better life;
– sensitivity to the needs of young migrants, street chil-
dren and youth at risk;
– interest and participation in the evangelising mission of
the Church and the Congregation and the desire to con-
tribute to its growth in one’s country and the world;
10 Cf. FSDB 396;
Const. 114.
11 Cf. GSSFI 3.4.
12 Cf. GSSFI 3.1; P.
CHÁVEZ, “The Incultur-
ation of the Salesian
Charism”, AGC 411,
pp. 49-51.
– the willingness to be challenged by the missionary call
and the generosity of offering oneself joyfully through
a life that requires commitment, sacrifice and self-
Experiences to be encouraged:
– apostolate among young migrants, among the poor in
rural or urban areas, and among young people at risk in
the context of the apostolic experiences of the post-
– organise and animate mission groups in places where
one goes for apostolate;
– have some experience of missionary promotion using
the means of social communication 13 ;
– reflect personally and in community on the Criteria for
the Discernment of the Salesian Missionary Vocation.
Practical training is the vital stage of intense evalua-
tion of Salesian activity in a pastoral and educative expe-
rience which helps young Salesians to mature in their
consecrated Salesian vocation and to ascertain their suit-
ability in view of perpetual profession 14 .
Contents to be emphasised:
– the personal and community reflection and evaluation
with other practical trainees on their life experiences
and Salesian activities;
– direct knowledge of the life of the Province and the
13 Cf. SSCS II, 3-4.
14 Cf. FSDB 428-429.
18Attitudes to be fostered:
– the joy of faith and love for Jesus and the enthusiasm
to bring young people to know him, especially
through catechesis;
– Don Bosco’s passion for proposing to young people,
especially those who do not know the Gospel or are
far from the Church, the experience of the Christian
– availability for the practice of the Preventive System
as an expression of passion and joy in sharing the ex-
perience of the fullness of life in Christ;
– theoretical and practical exploration of the Preventive
System with attention to inculturation.
Experiences to be encouraged:
– set up and animate a missionary group among young
people and stir up their enthusiasm to take part in
various initiatives in favour of the missions, including
missionary volunteer service;
– find ways to interact with young people from other re-
ligions in one’s context, and where possible provide
direct experience in a Salesian missionary presence in
one’s Province.
The specific formation is that which completes the
initial formation of the Salesian pastor, missionary dis-
ciple, educator and shepherd, along the lines of his spe-
cific vocation as a brother or priest 15 .
Contents to be emphasised:
– the study of Don Bosco the Founder in his later years,
when he faced new pastoral challenges, involved nu-
merous apostolic forces, opened the Congregation to
missionary frontiers 16 ;
– the study of Salesian Youth Ministry, which helps to
deepen the missionary dimension of evangelisation,
that is, the urgency of proclaiming Christ and edu-
cating young people to faith, new forms of presence
among young people, the Salesian presence in the
country, attention to missionary promotion 17 ;
– the study of pastoral theology with attention to docu-
ments of the Church dealing with missionary activity,
theology of religions, theology of evangelisation, mis-
siology, inter-religious and intercultural dialogue, and
other related issues such as the challenges of globali-
sation, secularism, multiculturalism and multi-reli-
giosity, immigration, popular religiosity and ways of
proclaiming the message of the Gospel in today's con-
text 18 ;
– the study of social communication and how to make
use of the instruments and language of modern media
in proclaiming the Gospel and transmitting its mes-
sage to the very culture of modern media itself;
– the missionary zeal and dynamism of the priest by
virtue of his configuration to Christ the Shepherd 19 .
15 Cf. FSDB 446.
16 Cf. GSSFI 4.1.
17 Cf. GSSFI 1.3; P.
CHÁVEZ, “The Salesian
Youth Ministry”, in
AGC 407, n. 4.2, pp.
sition 9.
THE CLERGY, Circular
Letter “The Missionary
Identity of the Priest”
(Libreria Editrice Vati-
cana: Vatican City,
2011), n. 2.
20Attitudes to be fostered:
– the bond of deep friendship with Christ which leads
those in formation to conform themselves to Him and
then to draw their deep pastoral charity from Him;
– love for the Church as the People of God which wel-
comes all peoples;
– belief that the Salesian charism is a missionary
charism 20 .
Experiences to be encouraged:
– the experience of missionary work with young people
who are followers of other religions;
– knowledge and the animation of the catechumenate
program according to the Rite of Christian Initiation
for Adults;
– the summer missionary experience;
– involvement in Salesian missionary promotion at the
local and Province level;
– the proposal to the sick to pray for missionaries and
the missions.
20 GSSFI 4.2.O Ongoing formation is the natural continuation and
necessary deepening of the Project of Life as a Salesian
missionary disciple, which was initiated and experienced
in initial formation and lasts throughout life. It takes
place primarily in the ordinary daily life of each confrere
within the community and it aims at keeping alive in him
the joy and enthusiasm of completely dedicating himself
to the cause of the Gospel.
Contents to be emphasised:
– the possibility offered to the confreres of the Province
to take part in any formation program, conference,
course ... which may help in exploring or better prepar-
ing them in some aspects of their apostolic task, e.g.
inter-religious dialogue, new evangelisation, …;
– exploring reflections and guidelines of the Congrega-
tion for the Evangelisation of Peoples and of our
sector for missions;
– missionary promotion in the Province and the Congre-
– volunteer service among young people and lay people.
Attitudes to be fostered:
– the desire to live up to one’s task in order to give
one’s best in the evangelising mission;
– openness to new contents and methods that could im-
prove the apostolic effectiveness in one’s context;
– awareness of one's fragility and poverty in the fulfil-
ment of the missionary mandate and thus the need for
Ongoing Formationmeditation and prayer, self-assessment of one’s ac-
tions, and a renewed determination to journey with
greater commitment and fervour.
Experiences to be encouraged:
– reflect and share one’s experiences in order to keep

alive the “the passion for the salvation of others, and
the joy of sharing the experience of the fullness of life
in Jesus” 21 ;
– take advantage of study days and reflection together
with the members of the Salesian Family and lay col-
laborators on topics relating to evangelisation and
culture, commitment to mission ad gentes …;
– use social communication media for a critical assess-
ment of new and emerging cultures and value the op-
portunities they offer in the proclamation of the
– learn new methods of evangelisation;
– animate missionary groups.
21 P. CHÁVEZ, “Address
at the closing of
GC26” Acts of the
26th General Chapter,
p. 137.
Criteria for discernment of the salesian missionary vo-
cation 22 “ad gentes, ad exteros, ad vitam”
Individuals or groups involved at various levels:
– the confrere who is accompanied by a spiritual guide
and by the confessor;
– the community where the confrere lives, that is, the
Rector, formators, confreres;
– the Provincial and his Council;
– the General Councillor for the Missions.
Counter indications of the missionary vocation
– the search for adventure and simple desire to change
the place where one works;
– urged on by a third person: parents, confreres, friends;
– escape from one’s relational, personal, vocational
– inability to integrate into the life and apostolate of
the community. If such a confrere is sent to the mis-
sions, he will be exposed to a more demanding envi-
ronment (due to language, culture, and other factors)
and will only worsen, rather than improve, his situa-
22 Cf. Ad Gentes 25;
Candidates for the
Salesian Missions”,
in AGC 337, pp. 52-
Specific Preparation
of the Salesian MissionaryInsufficient elements
– It is not enough to have some general missionary mo-
tivation like, for example, a vague wish to work for
poor youngsters or in a poor setting…
– It is not enough to have a superficial enthusiasm for
the missions that is not accompanied by concrete at-
titudes of commitment, sacrifice, generosity; such en-
thusiasm will not last long.
General Criteria for Vocational Discernment – for the
confrere and for the Rector and his Council
Three essential aspects: (1) Right intention, (2) free
decision, (3) necessary qualities. The necessary qualities
– good health;
– human maturity; sense of responsibility; relational ca-
– robust personality; psychological balance; persever-
ance in difficulties;
– patience, understanding, humility, capacity to appre-
ciate authentic values in other cultures and religions
and to adapt oneself in changing situations;
– supernatural spirit, so as not to reduce mission to
something merely philanthropic or social activity;
– spirit of faith; rootedness in Christ through personal
and community prayer life, centred on the Eucharist,
regularity in the reception of the sacraments;
– salesian life lived with missionary zeal shown by his
ardour in making Jesus known, especially to poor and
marginalised youth;
– profound love for the Church and the Congregation;
– spirit of sacrifice; generosity; being content with the
conditions in which he finds himself in;
– fortitude in enduring fatigue and fruitlessness of one’s
own effort;
– flexibility and ability to adapt oneself and to love life
in an intercultural community;
– capacity to learn a new language;
– capacity to live in community and to work as a team
with the members of the community, lay mission part-
ners, the young;
– communion with and obedience to the local bishop in
overall pastoral activity.
The Salesian who feels the call to be a missionary out-
side his homeland, cultural milieu and language group
(ad exteros) 23 , among those who have not yet heard the
Gospel, where the Church is not yet fully established (ad
gentes) 24 , through a life-long commitment (ad vitam) 25 ,
may offer himself any time to serve in missions.
Young confreres are preferred for their ease in
learning a new language and culture and their spirit of
adaptation; generally it is preferable to end the process
of discernment of their missionary vocation during the
post-novitiate, but it is also possible during the specific
formation of the Salesian priest and the Salesian brother.
The 19 th General Chapter also opened the possibility
for Salesians to be missionaries ad tempus, for at least 5
years, “provided that they are considered suitable” 26 . This
can be done for specific and urgent tasks in the mis-
sionary activity of the Congregation or to help the con-
frere better discern his Salesian missionary vocation ad
23 Cf. FABC Office of
Evangelisation, “Con-
sultation on Asian
Local Church and
Mission ad Gentes”,
ed. Franz Josef Eilers,
For All the Peoples of
Asia, III, n. 5 (Clare-
tian Publications:
Quezon City, 2002),
p. 222.
24 Cf. Ad Gentes 6
25 Cf. RM 66.
26 Acts of the 19th Ge-
neral Chapter no. 18,
Orientations, 2.
The process of discernment is a gradual and progres-
sive journey with the help of a spiritual guide. In this
process the candidate learns, like the Virgin Mary, to
listen to the voice of the Spirit, to purify and deepen his
motivations, to discern his qualities and attitudes which
determine his suitability for Salesian missionary life. The
community has also an important role in this process. For
this process the Criteria for the Discernment of the Sale-
sian Missionary Vocation are used. It is also possible that
the missionary candidate is given, for example, the expe-
rience of working in a missionary context outside of his
own Province on a trial basis for a year. This experience
could also be useful in the discernment of his Salesian
missionary call.
When, as a result of the discernment, the candidate
comes to the conclusion that he is called to serve in the
mission field, he sends a letter to the Rector Major in
which he explicitly manifests his wish and puts himself
at the disposition of the Congregation. This does not re-
move the opportunity to specify his preferences or con-
crete predispositions for a determined mission territory;
this applies particularly to Project Europe.
The Rector Major, through the Councillor for the Mis-
sions, enters into dialogue with the confrere's Provincial,
asking from him and his Council a written opinion re-
garding the missionary vocation of the candidate, always
with reference to the Criteria for the Discernment of the
Salesian Missionary Vocation.
Having successfully completed the discernment and
having obtained the opinion of the Provincial to release
the confrere for the missions, the Rector Major assigns
the candidate his destination.
In the intervening period before departure, the
– offers the possibility to the future missionary, as far
as is possible, to learn the language and culture of
the place in which he is assigned, as well as take part
in meetings or courses organised for missionary candi-
dates by the Conference of Religious or by the Epis-
copal Conference;
– offers the possibility of knowing the basic concepts of
cultural anthropology and the dynamics of intercul-
tural dialogue;
– sends the missionary to take part in the Orientation
Course for new missionaries organised by the Missions
Department as an immediate preparation of the mis-
sionaries before the giving of the missionary cross;
– prays and invites prayers for the confrere who will be
sent as a missionary.
Meanwhile, the Province, to which the new missionary
has been assigned, creates a welcoming atmosphere and
receives him fraternally when he arrives.
To facilitate his insertion into the new cultural, social
and ecclesial context, the Province:
– starts by offering him an orientation program re-
garding not only the history, the culture and values of
the country, but also the history, mission and works in
the Province;
– guarantees him adequate time to learn the language;
– assures him initial accompaniment through a spiritual
guide who assists and advises him during the first
years of his inclusion, listening to his expectations,
deepening his motives, removing his eventual preju-
31dices, helping him to draw up the plan of Salesian
missionary life;
– facilitates his gradual insertion by refraining from ap-
pointing him to positions of administrative responsi-
bility during the first two years;
– organises regular meetings of new missionaries, for
example, twice a year, with their formators, rectors
and the one in charge at Province level and at the
same time offers indications to the rector of the new
– gives him the possibility to participate in the Orienta-
tion Course for new missionaries organised either by
the Conference of Religious or by the local Bishops’
Conference in order to know and be inculturated in
the local culture.
After five years, the missionary is helped to evaluate
his missionary experience, and in particular:
– his integration into the life and apostolate of his
– his insertion into the local culture, especially among
young people entrusted to him, his capacity for open-
– a reflection on his apostolic zeal and commitment to
missionary life.
Meanwhile, the missionary who is in the formative pe-
riod completes his initial formation, is ordained to the
priesthood and / or makes the perpetual profession. For
those who are at the practical training stage, the two
years envisioned in the Regulations (R. 96), are counted
starting from his educative and pastoral insertion in the
local community to which he is assigned; for example:
the time spent exclusively for the study of the language
or waiting immigration procedures are not to be counted
as practical training.
32Formation continues
The missionary inserts himself fully into the missionary
work of the Province and pays attention to his continuing
formation, taking advantage of the opportunities offered
by the Province to deepen his personal relationship with
Christ as the source of his missionary zeal, continually in-
culturate himself in the culture of the people in the light
of the Christian faith and the Salesian charism.
Takes part in the various meetings in the Province (com-
munity day, meetings of the educative and pastoral com-
munity and Salesian Family, and other initiatives), in the
country (as for example, courses organised by Salesian re-
gional centres for on-going formation, meetings organised
by the Conference of Religious or Bishops’ Conference), as
well as at the Salesian Pontifical University which offers the
course for on-going formation of missionaries.
If he has the necessary gifts and if these correspond to
the needs of the Province, the missionary is asked by the
Provincial to take up further studies in missiology, anthro-
pology, intercultural dialogue, inter-religious dialogue,
and new evangelisation in order to render a competent
service in the Province.
33The Salesian Missionary Vocation
Egidio Viganò, SDB 1
The missionary heart of Don Bosco
“We may safely say that Don Bosco can be listed among
the great missionaries of the 19th century, even though
he was never personally on the missions ad gentes.
‘It can be said’, wrote Eugene Ceria, ‘that the mission-
ary idea grew in him’ 2 . It is an idea that is intrinsic to his
vocational plan as a Founder, and coextensive with his
whole existence. At first it was present in embryo and he
was hardly conscious of it, but then it gradually took on a
form that became progressively clearer and more distinct.
The same thing is said in more incisive or delicate
terms by both Fr Paul Albera and Fr Philip Rinaldi, who
trace back Don Bosco’s missionary vision to his dream at
the age of nine.
The foreign missions, wrote Fr Albera, ‘were always a
burning aspiration in Don Bosco’s heart, and I am quite
sure that Mary Help of Christians, from her first motherly
revelations to him while he was still a boy, had given him
a clear intuition in this regard... He spoke about it con-
tinually to us his first sons; we were filled with wonder
and felt ourselves carried away by a holy enthusiasm... At
the bedside of young John Cagliero who was dying, Don
Bosco saw the Patagonians waiting to receive redemption
at Cagliero’s hands, and he foretold his recovery and re-
vealed in part what the future had in store for him’ 3 .
1 Excerpts from E. VI-
GANÒ, “The Pope’s Ap-
peal for the Mis-
sions”, in AGC 336
(1991) pp. 5-12.
2 E. CERIA, Annali della
Società Salesiana I,
p. 245.
3 P. ALBERA, Lettere
Circolari (Direzione
Generale Opere Don
Bosco: Torino, 1956)
pp. 132-133.
AppendicesAnd Fr Rinaldi said in his turn: ‘In commemorating that
first dream of our venerable Father we have implicitly cel-
ebrated the centenary of the beginning of the whole of
Salesian work; because we may say that it was in that first
vision that he was consecrated as the apostle of youth,
the father of a new religious family, a missionary to non-
Christian peoples; that vision it was that stirred up also in
his heart a lively desire for religious life and the evangeli-
sation of pagans’ 4 .
The missionary ideal in fact, that had been alive in him
from the time of his secondary school studies 5 , developed
and matured with the passing of time.
At the end of his period of pastoral formation in the
College of St Francis of Assisi in Turin (1844), he was
thinking of entering the Oblates of the Blessed Virgin,
who had opened a flourishing mission in Vietnam, so that
he could soon become a missionary, and for this he began
to prepare himself by prayer and the study of the appro-
priate languages. Fr Cafasso, his spiritual director, let him
go along on this line for a while, but then at an opportune
moment said a decisive ‘no’ and bade him stay in Turin,
where he found him a post at the refuge of the Mar-
chioness Barolo, where he could concern himself with
large numbers of young people. He obeyed, and Provi-
dence guided his steps. But his apostolic work among the
young, far from quenching his missionary zeal, shed fresh
light on it and gave it a new and original slant.
We know that missionary undertakings, reported in the
Annals of the Propagation of the Faith one of his favourite
sources of reading material made a deep impression on
him 6 . There were so many souls to be saved, and he felt
that in some way he shared the responsibility for them.
From 1848 Fr Rua and others had heard him exclaim
more than once: ‘Oh, if only I had lots of priests and
4 ACS, VI, June 24,
1925, p. 364.
5 Cf. BM I, 328.
6 Cf. BM III, 363.
36young clerics! I would send them to preach the Gospel in
Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego...’ 7 .
He was often seen, during those same years, looking at
a map and heaving a deep sigh at the thought that ‘so
many regions were still lying in the shadow of spiritual
death’ 8 .
When after indescribable sacrifices he was finally able
to launch his missions (1875: the Congregation’s greatest
enterprise!) his missionary heart exulted, and he seemed
to give them the whole of his eager attention.: ‘From then
onwards’, wrote Fr Albera, ‘the Missions were at the centre
of his heart and he seemed to live only for them... He
talked about them with such enthusiasm that we all mar-
velled and were deeply edified by his burning ardour for
souls’ 9 .
With no less intensity Fr Rinaldi, drawing on memories
of the distant past, wrote: ‘In his great heart there had
been accumulating for years on end the apostolic ardour
of a Francis Xavier, nourished by a heavenly flame that was
revealing the future to him through dreams... For me there
has never been a missionary as zealous and tireless in his
propaganda as he was. I can still see him, the loving Fa-
ther, in the distant memories of my Salesian vocation, pre-
cisely in those years when his missionary fervour was at
its height; and it has left an indelible impression on me:
he was a true missionary, an apostle devoured by a pas-
sion for souls’ 10 .
But Don Bosco was not satisfied to keep the missionary
ideal to himself; he passed it on to his Congregation (and
Family) as an essential element of his spiritual and apos-
tolic patrimony. A memorandum he sent in 1880 to Pope
Leo XII is quite explicit: ‘The foreign missions have always
been a cherished concern of the Salesian Congregation’ 11 .
It was his wish therefore that his foundation should be al-
so truly missionary ad gentes.
7 BM III, 363.
8 BM III, 546; IV,
9 P. ALBERA, Lettere
Circolari, p. 134.
10 ACS, VI, June 24,
1925, p. 367.
11 BM XIV, 510.
37It will be worth our while to consider, albeit briefly,
some of Don Bosco’s dreams that manifest very dearly his
plans as a Founder.
He dreamed of sons going to the South and the East
Don Bosco had many dreams: not without justification
has he been called ‘the dreaming Saint’.
Their classification is a ticklish problem, and their in-
terpretation still more so. We still lack a critical and sci-
entific study of them, nor is it easy to make one 12 .
But this does not mean that some of his dreams lack
historical and prophetic importance; they have given sub-
stance to his charismatic personality and prompted him to
undertake courageous initiatives inexplicable from a pure-
ly human point of view.
Commenting on the so-called dream of the diamonds 13 ,
I said that one can speak of Don Bosco’s dreams at a lev-
el that is different and more vital than scientific criticism
(though the latter is also desirable for a serious investiga-
tion); it is the level of the existential influence they had
on the mind of the Founder and in the life of his followers.
Some of the dreams must be considered as revelational
in character; they cannot be explained merely by an analy-
sis of the personal inner feelings of the Saint.
Fr James Costamagna (who later became a bishop and
had verified at first hand in Latin America the charismatic
value of various dreams) saw dearly in Don Bosco a
‘prophetic personality’; after reading of a missionary dream
in 1885 he wrote to Fr Lemoyne and told him of a phrase
said to him in confidence by the good Father: ‘perhaps of
all religious Congregations and Orders, ours is the one
which has received most the Word of God’ 14 .
Among the dreams containing ‘revelations’ there are
five that refer specifically to the missions ad gentes:
12 Cf. F. JIMÉNEz, Los
Sueños de Don Bosco
(CCS: Madrid, 1989).
13 Cf. ASC n. 300.
14 BM XVII, 281.
38• one in 1872 on Patagonia; this was the one that made
Don Bosco begin his missions;
• a second in 1883 which describes a journey through
Latin America: it relates many details that were un-
known not only to Don Bosco but even to scholars of
the time;
• a third in 1885 about the lower part of South America;
this was the one that led Fr Costamagna, who was al-
ready in America, to write back and quote the phrase
referred to above;
• a fourth, also in 1885, on Africa, Asia and Oceania; we
look upon this one with special wonder and interest at
the present day, because we are already witnessing its
prodigious realisation;
• and the fifth in 1886, on the journey by air from Val-
paraiso to Peking: I have checked the geographical de-
tails myself during various journeys I have made, so as
to encourage all of us to renew our hope as we coura-
geously approach ‘Project China’ 15 .
These missionary dreams help us to understand the
mind of our Founder, his magnanimity and the boldness of
his initiatives. In them the Congregation clearly appears
as being among the ecclesial groups committed as such in
the mission ad gentes, and this precisely in the South and
East of which the Encyclical speaks: they foretell the flour-
ishing of vocations among native peoples and provide
scope for verification – in 500 years time 16 !
The period from the first missionary expedition (1875)
to the present day shows that such dreams have come
true, even though prospects of further growth still remain
open, especially in China where, for that matter, Salesian
missions were launched with unhoped-for success and be-
dewed with the blood of our first martyrs.
They are dreams which – and this perhaps is a fact
unique in history – have traced some decades in advance
15 Cf. AGC n. 323.
16 Cf. BM XVII, 596.
39what would be done later by his followers. And not with-
out reason Don Bosco is felt today, in the most widely
separated places on earth, as a fatherly and forestalling
presence friendly to local culture and a powerful protector.
In many intercontinental journeys I have often been
able to verify to some extent the prophetic element in
these dreams, which always incite us to press on towards a
fascinating future. I have found this to be true in Latin
America, in Africa and Madagascar, in Asia, Japan and the
Philippines, in Australia and Oceania. As our confreres in
those regions read these dreams once again, they consid-
er them as so many providential prophetic messages. In
some places I have even been asked to settle heated dis-
cussions about some geographical point.
They are dreams which have had a real influence on mis-
sionary life in the Congregation, and continue to do so. In
their own way they provide confirmation for the constitu-
tive aspect of the Salesian vocation itself in the Church.
Ours is a missionary congregation
The mind and heart of the Founder and the uninter-
rupted tradition in our Family are an open confirmation of
the fact that the missionary dimension is an ‘essential fea-
ture’ of our charism 17 .
For us Salesians the missions ad gentes are not just
so many works on a par with others, the only difference
being that they are carried out in distant countries with
different cultures: no, no. They represent something very
much deeper: an essential aspect, a particular dimen-
sion of our identity as Salesians of Don Bosco in the
Church. It is true that the Congregation is not listed in
the Pontifical Yearbook among the ‘Missionary Institutes’
strictly so-called (i.e. among those dedicated solely to the
foreign missions); but in it, and this precisely by ecclesial 17 Cf. Const. 30.
40institution, the Founder wanted there to be a true com-
mitment to missions ad gentes. His was a truly providen-
tial plan. Today we cannot but recognise the fact that the
missions have been the historical means for bringing
about the inculturation of the Salesian charism in the
world on a universal scale. And that, is something deserv-
ing of great merit.
From the very beginning we have fostered missionary
vocations in the strict sense, i.e. the care of those confr-
eres – and they are many – who have been enriched with
the ‘special vocation’ which is the characteristic note of
every true missionary. Such a special vocation is not
something that makes them exceptional in respect of
other confreres, but rather a more lively and generous
expression of the vocation of all. It manifests, in fact, a
condition inherent in the nature of the common
charism; every confrere is fundamentally available to
go to the missions if obedience should take him there.
It is no more than 100 years since we began our mis-
sions in Latin America; 50 years later we turned to Asia and
finally (after another 50 years!) we have committed our-
selves in an overall fashion to Africa and Oceania. We can
say that we have directed our attention, as the Pope sug-
gests, towards the South and the East 18 , where the greatest
demographic growth of people is taking place: so many of
them young and in conditions of such great poverty.
Our missions are a standing demonstration, in three
great and successive stages and at world level, of the
practical preferential option of the Congregation for the
young who are poor and in such great need.
The last two decades have seen a relaunching of mis-
sionary activity among us. This is something providential
which is giving new life to our charism and leading us for-
ward into the future with hope. In my letter on Our African
Commitment 19 , I said that the opening of this new mis-
18 Cf. RM 40.
19 Cf. ACS n. 297.
41sionary frontier was inherent in our living tradition and
would be the harbinger of great blessings from the Lord.
We are witnessing the truth of that statement. The mis-
sionary commitment is freeing us from the dangerous
trend towards a soft and easy life, from superficiality in
spiritual matters, and from genericism. In the missions
we get a taste of the origins, we experience the peren-
nial validity of the oratory criterion, and we seem to
see Don Bosco once again in the authentic beginnings
of his mission to the young and the poor”.
42Who is the missionary today?
Alfred Maravilla, SDB
It is not rare to hear Salesians from technologically de-
veloped countries asking “Why send us missionaries? We
are not a poor country!” Similarly, some missionaries
from countries once considered ‘mission land’ also wonder
at the sense of being sent to materially well-off or tech-
nologically developed countries.
To many Salesians here lies the non verbalised ‘prob-
lem’ regarding the last General Chapter’s directive to re-
launch the charism in Europe by taking the necessary ac-
tion to renew the Salesian presence in the continent (GS
26, 108, 111) now known as ‘Project Europe.’
Actually the problem is deeper than mere socio-geogra-
phy or a Congregational project! It is rooted in the selec-
tive comprehension of ‘mission’ expressed in the concil-
iar decree Ad Gentes no. 6 understood solely as unidirec-
tional movement from ‘Christian’ countries to ‘pagan’ lands
where peoples or groups do not yet believe in Christ or
where the Church has not yet taken root. And so it is with
the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi no. 31,
where human promotion and development are seen as the
most important components of mission. It seems that the
understanding of mission of many is fossilised here.
Yet, already way back in 1991, John Paul II had insist-
ed in Redemptoris Missio nos. 33-34 that mission can no
longer be seen solely in unidirectional geographic
terms but primarily as the proclamation of Jesus Christ
in interpenetrating contexts where there is a need of ei-
ther missio ad gentes, ordinary pastoral activity or new
evangelisation 20 . Thus, he called for interdependence and
mutual assistance between Churches in what was tradi-
tionally called ‘Christian countries’ and ‘mission countries.’
20 Fr. Viganò had al-
ready pointed out
that among the new
perspectives of this
encyclical was preci-
sely the “new criteria
for the specific de-
scription of missio-
nary activity - cri-
teria that are not
only geographical but
also cultural and so-
ciological”. E. VIGANÒ,
“The Pope’s Appeal
for Missions”, p. 15.
43In Asia, a context where everyone has a neighbour who
is a follower of another religion, the Federation of Asian
Bishops’ Conferences has pointed out that the missionary
is one who goes out of his or her cultural context, linguis-
tic group or country, (ad exteros) amongst those who have
not yet heard the Gospel and where the Church is not yet
fully established (ad gentes) to proclaim the gospel. And
every local church, the Asian bishops insisted, is called to
send and receive missionaries 21 .
In this light, mission is no longer just a movement to-
ward the “mission lands”. It is now a multidirectional
movement, because the mission is wherever a Christian
crosses a human border to proclaim the Gospel. Similarly,
every Salesian Province, rich or poor in personnel or re-
sources, shares responsibility in the missionary initiatives
of the whole Salesian Congregation. All Provinces, there-
fore, send and receive! That is why today's missionaries
come from and also are sent to Africa, Asia, America, Eu-
rope and Oceania. In this perspective, what is important is
not only the geographical place, insisted the Latin Ameri-
can bishops, but to live one’ life “in a state of mission” 22 .
Therefore, the missionary today is one who is sent either
to the forest or to the city, either to the parish or to the
school, either among followers of other religions or among
those who do not have any religion, among those who live
their Christian faith as something cultural or among those
who live it in a routine manner. What is important is that
the missionary keeps alive his or her passion for Jesus
Christ and his people 23 .
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 mis-
sionary impulse ad gentes but “a concrete sign” of its
“fruitfulness” 24 ! With this renewed vision of mission Pope
21 Cf. FABC Office of
Evangelisation, “Con-
sultation on Asian
Local Church and
Mission ad Gentes”,
p. 222.
22 CELAM V. Apare-
cida. Documento Final
(Lima: Conferencia
Episcopal Peruana,
2007) n. 213; JOHN
“Address to the
CELAM Assembly”
(March 9, 1983).
23 FRANCIS, Evangelii
Gaudium (2013) 268.
24 BENEDICT XVI, Africae
Munus (2011) n. 167.
44Francis continually invites Catholics “to reach all the ‘pe-
ripheries’ in need of the light of the Gospel” 25 .
This multi-directional movement, in reality, is already
something that happens for some time now in many dio-
ceses and religious congregations. Is it not perhaps that
some Salesians or Provinces prefer to be either only
“senders” or simply “receivers” rather than send and re-
ceive at the same time? Thus, the Rector Major’s insistence
that Project Europe is a “Congregational Project” which
involves “all Regions and Provinces” 26 primarily demands
from all Salesians a conversion of mind and heart to
make their own this profound change in the understanding
that ‘the whole Church is missionary.’ Only then will there
be a multidirectional exchange of Salesian missionaries
animated by mutual trust and openness which, in the final
analysis, will enrich all Provinces and renew the whole
25 FRANCIS, Evangelii
Gaudium, 20.
26 Acts of the General
Chapter XXVI, p. 147.
45The Salesian Mission Group
T.C. George, SDB
Woe to me if I do not share the Good News (1 Cor 9,16)
The Church is missionary by her very nature 27 . Our Sale-
sian vocation places us at the heart of the Church, and
hence is missionary. Right from the beginning, Don Bosco
wanted the Salesians to have a real commitment to evan-
gelisation and mission ad gentes in particular 28 . Don Bosco
handed on the missionary ideal to the whole Salesian Fam-
ily as a constitutive element of his spiritual and apostolic
heritage. Immediately after the approval of the Constitu-
tions in 1874, he sent the first missionary expedition on
11 November 1875.
The glories of the Salesian presence and activities in
the South Asia region today are the fruits of the mission-
ary enthusiasm and commitment of the early Salesian mis-
sionaries who brought the Da mihi animas of Don Bosco
to our region. The mind and heart of the Founder and the
uninterrupted missionary tradition of the Salesian Family
are an open confirmation that the missionary dimension
is an essential feature of our charism.
Today we are called to keep alive the missionary zeal
and apostolic passion of Don Bosco our founder in the
vicissitudes of time and even amidst newly arising chal-
lenges in the region. We need to discover new ways of
presenting the person of Jesus Christ to all, especially
the young. Every Salesian should become convinced that
Christ is the best gift to be received, to be lived and to
be shared. And, sharing Christ with our brothers and sis-
ters is not the duty of just a few who are called “mis-
sionaries”. It is the privilege of everyone who has ac-
cepted him.
27 Ad Gentes 2, RM 62.
28 RM 3.
46Keeping in mind our missionary nature, we need to live
our missionary Charism enthusiastically and hand it on ef-
fectively to the young under our care so that they too, set
on fire for Christ, may take up the challenge to “go and
proclaim” (Mk 16,15). We need to pass on our beautiful
Salesian missionary heritage. In the past, missionary
groups have played effective roles as instruments of mis-
sionary formation and missionary activities in the Church
and in our congregation.
The Province Delegates for Missionary Animation of
the South Asia region and the Salesian Family members
at the Study Days on the Salesian Mission and the Initial
Proclamation of Christ in South Asia (from 7-11 August
2011) once again felt the need to transmit our mis-
sionary charism to the young especially to those under
various stages of formation. Fr Václav Klement, the Coun-
cillor for the Missions, had already been requesting our
Provinces to form missionary groups. The Province Dele-
gates for Missionary Animation of the South Asia drew up
an action plan to revive or establish missionary groups in
our various settings with the purpose of revitalising and
building up a missionary culture in the region.
Aims and Objectives of the Salesian Mission Groups
The Salesian Mission Group aims at participating ac-
tively in the missionary mandate of Jesus Christ to go
and proclaim discovering its missionary model and
source of strength in the heart of Christ himself, the
Missionary of the Father. Through prayer, reflection and
action the group promotes missionary spirit in its own
setting and foster interest in mission ad gentes while
endeavouring to ensure its own growth in Christian com-
mitment to mission and bearing witness to each one’s
faith in Christ.
47Suggested Activities of the Mission Group
• Conducting formative programmes for the group mem-
bers themselves through group study and reflection on
the Word of God, group Masses, conferences, etc.
• Getting familiarised with the documents of the Church
on evangelising mission, etc.
• Praying for evangelising mission of the congregation
and promoting prayer ministry through the prayer mis-
sion hub of the South Asian region.
• Meeting fortnightly to evaluate and plan activities.
• Collecting and maintaining some resource materials for
missionary animation and documenting the activities of
the group.
• Fostering mission ad gentes vocations.
• Organising annual mission congress.
• Disseminating Cagliero 11 in various ways.
• Organising conference, seminars, prayer services, quiz
for the community/groups and displaying of informa-
tion, reflection, etc on missionary themes on notice
• Celebrating the Salesian Mission Day every November 11.
• Arranging missionaries to come and share their mission-
ary experiences with the community/group.
• Screening the DVD produced by Missioni Don Bosco of
Turin for the community/ groups.
• Organising mission exposure programme, field visits etc
to impart mission experience during holidays.
• Networking with other missionary groups in the Province
and Region.
• Promoting a culture of donating to the missionary activ-
ities by making efforts to raise funds even in a small
The Structure of the Group
A mission group can be organised in our settings: for-
mation houses, parishes, schools, youth centres.
The mission group will have a core team consisting of a
president, a vice president, a treasurer and a secretary. The
core team will be responsible for the overall functioning of
the group.
The group will undertake activities in consultation with
the staff representative and the Province Delegate for
Missionary Animation.
The mission group is not to be considered as an exclu-
sive group of “missionaries” but of “missionary animators”
who work towards instilling missionary consciousness
among the confreres as well as the young. They are like
the leaven that enlivens the missionary culture, the salt
that adds a missionary taste and the light which makes
everyone see opportunities for mission. The Missionary Aspirantate
Václav Klement, SDB
After the First World War the universal Church experi-
enced a period of missionary revival, marked by large-scale
meetings and missionary exhibitions, a flowering of mis-
sionary youth groups and publications at all levels. Mis-
sionary promotion has contributed to sending thousands
of European missionaries to all the other continents. The
young Salesian Congregation also received various respon-
sibilities in mission territories (mission Prefectures, Vic-
ariates or Prelatures) in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania.
The third successor of Don Bosco, Blessed Philip Rinal-
di, in communion with the Church, founded the magazine
Gioventù missionaria to animate groups of the ‘Friends of
Gioventù missionaria’. Finally, in 1922, the first institution
which was meant for the formation of future missionaries
ad gentes was founded in Ivrea near Turin. After high
school young people were leaving for the missions, where
they began their novitiate.
From the first missionary Aspirantate - Cardinal John
Cagliero Institute, Ivrea - other missionary aspirantates
were established in Penango, Gaeta, Bagnolo, Mirabello,
Novi Ligure, Cumiana, Turin - Rebaudengo, Colle Don
Bosco (Italy), Astudillo (Spain), Shrigley (UK), Coat-an-
Doc'h (France) - not to mention other specifically mission-
ary houses of formation (Turin Valdocco, the various ‘mis-
sionary seminaries’). A good part of the 11,000 Salesian
missionaries is the result of the typical Salesian tradition,
having confidence in young people - even in the field of
mission ad gentes, ad extra, ad vitam.
Like many other traditions in the immediate post-Vati-
can II period, all the missionary aspirantates in Europe
were closed in the 60s. On the other side of the globe, in
the region of South Asia during the centenary celebrations
of Don Bosco in India (2006), the idea to continue the
original tradition of Salesian missionaries aspirantates
came up. Thus, with the permission of the Rector Major,
the first two missionary aspirantates outside Europe were
opened. The first in Sirajuli (Hubert D’Rosario Institute,
Guwahati, 2011) and the second in Perambur (Don Bosco
Missionary Aspirantate, Chennai, 2012). Now there are
about 70 young aspirants in India, 18 pre-novices, 6
novices being formed specifically to be missionaries. The
project is open to all 12 Provinces of the region. It is en-
visioned that after the postnovitiate the young missionar-
ies will be sent either to other parts of the region or to
missions ad gentes in other continents. The main motiva-
tion of the project is that “after receiving 400 Salesian
missionaries, we now have a strong faith and vocations.
As a sign of gratitude, the time has come for India to send
missionaries around the world and in Europe”.
The opening of missionary aspirantates was warmly en-
dorsed by other Provinces rich in apostolic vocations. The
specific missionary formation is expressed mainly in the
environment permeated by missionary enthusiasm: con-
tents of conferences, good nights, missionary literature,
and contact with missionaries ad gentes, missionary expe-
rience in the local oratory or the experience of initial
proclamation of Jesus in the rural area. The urgent need for missionary promotion
Alfred Maravilla, SDB
It is not uncommon to hear statements like “we are in
the missions already, so what is the need for missionary
promotion?”, or “we also need personnel in our Province
so why encourage our Salesians to be missionaries
abroad?”. These statements seem to indicate that mission-
ary promotion is often misunderstood as fishing for mis-
sionaries. No wonder confreres sometimes wonder at the
sense missionary promotion has when there is lack of per-
sonnel in the Province!
Looking back to Don Bosco
What is missionary promotion? It might be helpful to
return to Don Bosco in order to shed light on what we
mean by Salesian missionary promotion. From 1841 to
1850 Don Bosco established his first works for the
young. From 1850 to 1860, at a time of great danger for
the faith of the people, he undertook a bold initiative of
founding the Salesian Society in 1859 and of establishing
a printing press as well as the publication of the Catholic
Readings. In the next fifteen years he founded the other
branches of his family: the Association of Mary Help of
Christians in 1869, the Daughters of Mary Help of Chris-
tians in 1872 and the Salesian Cooperators in 1876. Fi-
nally, he opened an entirely new page in the life of his
young Congregation by sending out his first missionaries
in 1875, immediately after the approval of the Salesian
Constitutions (1874).
A closer look at the missionary thrust of Don Bosco re-
veals that it is but the ultimate fruit and liveliest mani-
52festation of his missionary zeal to make Jesus known. This
apostolic passion is the dynamism which underpins all his
initiatives. In fact, if we examine closely his ministry to
young people, it is easy to realise that this was deeply
permeated by his passion for preaching the Gospel: During
the outbreak of cholera in 1854 Don Bosco challenged his
best boys to look beyond the safe confines of the Oratory
and go and help those stricken with cholera. Dominic
Savio’s dream-vision of the Pope bringing the light of faith
to England reflects the missionary spirit that reigned in
the Oratory. “Don Bosco’s oratory” stressed Fr Vigano, “is
conceived with a missionary perspective for young people
without a parish” 29 .
This missionary zeal – synthesised in Da mihi animas
– was the animating dynamism which cuts across all his
initiatives. Fr Michael Rua wrote that “Don Bosco, in
the ardent zeal by which he was devoured, shouted out:
Da mihi animas! It was this need to save souls which
made the old world seem narrow and drove him to send
his sons to the distant missions of America” 30 . In 1925,
the fiftieth anniversary of the first missionary expedi-
tion, Fr Philip Rinaldi used these words to describe Don
Bosco’s missionary zeal: “The apostolic ardour of a
Francis Xavier had been burning in his large heart for
many a year, fed by a divine flame which lit up the fu-
ture through his dreams... He was a true missionary, an
apostle devoured by a passion for souls” 31 . Indeed, Don
Bosco passed on to his first Salesians and to his boys
this ardent desire to share his faith with poor and aban-
doned boys in Valdocco, with the people of Turin and
with those who lived beyond Italy’s shores. Truly his ex-
ample indicates that the missionary commitment to
mission ad gentes “would be the Congregation's on-
going concern, in such a way that it forms part of its
nature and purpose” 32 .
29 E. VIGANÒ, “The Po-
pe's Appeal for the
Missions”, p. 34.
30 Bolletino Salesiano
(January 1897), 4.
(1925) p. 367.
32 Acts of the General
Chapter XIX, 178;
Acts of the General
Chapter XX, 471.
53The Twofold Purpose of Salesian Missionary Promotion
In the light of Don Bosco’s experience we can now draw
up our purpose for missionary promotion. Salesian mis-
sionary promotion has a twofold purpose which is inter-
related and mutually complementary. Above all it aims at
keeping alive in every Salesian the passion for making
Jesus known and for preaching the Gospel. Such mis-
sionary zeal leads to a rediscovery of “the joy of being
Christians, of being sustained by the inner happiness of
knowing Christ and belonging to his Church” 33 . Hence, an
effective missionary promotion renews “the passion for
the salvation of others, the joy of sharing the experience
of the fullness of life of Jesus” 34 of individual Salesians
and, consequently, makes every member of the local and
Province community “happy from deep within” 35 . From
this inner joy energy springs “to serve Christ in hard-
pressed situations of human suffering, the strength to put
oneself at his disposal” 36 and live our Salesian life radical-
ly. This, in turn, overcomes “faith fatigue” or the “sense of
having had enough of Christianity” 37 which causes inner
weariness, small mindedness, and loss of apostolic zeal
which, ultimately, “ends up in a state of paralysis and ace-
dia” 38 expressed in the joylessness and inner sadness in
living the Christian and consecrated life. Enthusiastic Sale-
sians attract young people to Salesian life. An effective
missionary promotion, therefore, is intimately linked to
vocation promotion.
This missionary zeal that should be present in every
Salesian does not preclude but actually implies that
there are Salesians who have a specific vocation to be
engaged in the missionary apostolate outside their own
homeland, cultural milieu and language group (ad ex-
teros); among those who have not yet heard the Gospel, or
mily, Parco Expo Bi-
centenario, León, Me-
xico” (March 25,
34 P. CHÁVEZ, “Address
at the Closing of the
General Chapter 26”,
Acts of the General
Chapter XXVI, 137.
“Christmas address to
the Roman Curia”
(December 22, 2011).
36 Ibid.
37 Ibid.
38 FRANCIS, Evangelii
Gaudium 81, 83.
54where the Church is not yet fully established (ad gentes);
and in contexts where there is an abandonment of the
faith or where it is lived and in contexts where there is an
abandonment of the faith or where it is lived as merely
something cultural (new evangelisation) 39 through a life-
long commitment (ad vitam) 40 . Thus, the second purpose
of missionary promotion which flows from its primary aim
is to help Salesians discern whether they have the mis-
sionary vocation ad exteros, ad gentes, ad vitam. Those
who feel called to be missionaries are helped to start the
initial process of discernment by seeking the help of a
spiritual guide to discover God’s call, purify and deepen
their motives, discern their qualities and attitudes in view
of determining their basic suitability for Salesian mission-
ary life.
Our Salesian vocation places us at the heart of the
Church 41 which “is missionary by her very nature” because
she “is sent forth to the nations” 42 . In the same way that
within the one Salesian vocation some are called to be
priests while others to be brothers, similarly the Salesian
missionary vocation is a call within our common Salesian
vocation 43 . In this light, it is not a matter of “we need
confreres here” nor of “escaping” from the needs of the
Province. No, no! It is a matter of helping a confrere re-
spond to his vocation to be a Salesian missionary!
Missionary Promotion in Salesian Communities
Salesian missionary promotion in the whole Province is
under the care of the Province Delegate for Mission An-
imation (PDMA) who works in close collaboration with the
Province Delegates for youth ministry, social communica-
tion and formation. In our local communities missionary
promotion could take different forms. Here are 4 simple
39 FABC Office of
Evangelisation, “Con-
sultation on Asian
Local Church and
Mission ad Gentes”,
ed. Franz Josef Eilers,
For All the Peoples of
Asia, III, n. 5, (Clare-
tian Publications:
Quezon City, 2002)
222; RM 33; BENEDICT
XVI, Motu Proprio
Ubicumque et Semper
40 Ad Gentes 6, 27;
RM 32, 79; Acts of
the General Chapter
XX, 465.
41 Const. 6.
42 Ad Gentes 2; RM 1,
43 E. VIGANÒ, “The Po-
pe’s Appeal for the
Missions”, p. 11.
55• The annual celebration of the Salesian Mission Day on
a common date chosen by the whole Province is meant
to foster awareness to different missionary situations
and overcome every temptation to shut oneself off in
one’s own context. Every year the Missions Department
prepares a poster, printed materials, a DVD with short
films on the theme which are also available on
Youtube. These draw attention to the universality of
the Salesian charism and its vitality as shown in the
expressions of the missionary zeal of Salesians in dif-
ferent contexts.
• The Monthly Missionary Intention as well as prayer
for missionaries every 11 th of the month underline
the importance of spiritual dimension of mission and
the possibility of all confreres to support the Congre-
gation’s missionary activity through their prayer and
• The monthly issue of Cagliero 11, distributed to the
communities through the PDMA, offers resources not
only for spiritual reading of the community but also for
the ‘Good morning’ talks to students.
• The formation of a mission group in every local set-
ting fosters the revival of the missionary consciousness
of young people and the whole educative pastoral com-
munity (EPC), revitalises the enthusiasm for the faith
and the fascination for the Salesian charism. A mission
group could also foster volunteer service among the
young and all the members of the EPC. This, in turn,
stirs up the ardour that gives birth to new vocations.
The Sense of doing Missionary Promotion
So, do we really need missionary promotion today? In
fact, we really do! Salesian missionary promotion helps us
to rediscover the “joy of believing” and of “communicating
5644 FRANCIS, Evangelii
Gaudium 86, 30.
45 Idem, 21.
46 Idem, 26.
47 Idem, 27.
48 Idem, 10, 13, 83.
Jesus Christ” 44 which “enlivens the community of disci-
ples” 45 . Indeed, an effective missionary promotion will be
that spark that could trigger an “openness to a constant
self-renewal” 46 in every Salesian and, consequently, “the
renewal of structures demanded by pastoral conversion” 47
in every community and Province, less we give in to ‘faith
fatigue’, and slide back comfortably to the joyless and ar-
dourless “maintenance mode” of Salesian presence. Sale-
sians overflowing with the “delightful and comforting joy
of evangelising” 48 will certainly attract young people to
the Salesian life! Salesian Mission Day 1988-2015
Since 1988 a mission theme has been offered to the
entire Congregation. All Salesian communities are invited
to get to know about a missionary situation in a partic-
ular continent. It is a powerful occasion for Missionary
Promotion in the Provinces, houses, youth groups, and in
the Salesian Family. Is not an isolated event but rather a
chance to involve local Salesian communities and educa-
tive-pastoral communities (CEP) of the Province by of-
fering a proposal that can become an annual practical
Year Theme
1988 Guinea - Conakry: The dream continues
1989 Zambia: Lufubu Project
1990 Timor Leste - Venilale: Young evangelisers
1991 Paraguay: Street children
1992 Peru-Valle Sagrado Incas: Christ lives in the steps of the Incas
1993 Togo-Kara: Don Bosco and Africa - a dream comes true
1994 Cambodia-Phnom Penh: Missionaries builders of peace
1995 India - Gujarat: In dialogue sharing the faith
1996 Russia - Yakutsk: Lights of hope in Siberia
1997 Madagascar: Boy, I say to you, get up
1998 Brazil: Yanomami: New life in Christ
1999 Japan: The difficult proclamation of Christ in Japan
2000 Angola: Gospel seed of reconciliation
2001 Papua New Guinea: Walking with the young in PNG
2002 Missionaries among the refugees worldwide
2003 Salesian commitment to human development and evangelisation
2004 India - Arunachal Pradesh: A People awakes
2005 Mongolia: A new missionary frontier
2006 Sudan: - The Salesian mission in Sudan
2007 Sudan: - The Salesian mission in Sudan
2008 HIV/AIDS: The Salesian response - educating for life
2009 Worldwide Salesian Missionary Promotion - Keep alive your
missionary flame
2010 Europe: - The Salesians of Don Bosco walking with the Gypsies
2011 America: Volunteers proclaiming the Gospel
2012 Asia - Oceania: Telling the Jesus story to the young of Asia - Oceania
2013 Africa: Journey of Faith
2014 Europe: we are the others - care of immigrants
2015 Missionary heart of Don Bosco - Salesian Missionary Vocation
59Some Centres for Postgraduate Studies
Gregorian Pontifical University (Rome)
Faculty of Missiology (
• Evangelisation
• Theology of Religions:
• Religions and Cultures of the Mediterranean
• Islamic Studies
• Asian Religions and Cultures
Urbanian Pontifical University (Rome)
Faculty of Missiology (http://www.urbaniana.
• Theology of mission
• Missionary Catechesis and Pastoral Activity
• Mission and Religions
• Annual Course of Missionary Formation
(personalised plan)
‘Angelicum’ Pontifical University (Rome)
• Centre for Interreligous Dialogue
Scalabrini Migration International Institute (Rome)
• Diploma in Migrant Ministry
Pontificio Istituto di Studi Arabi e d’Islamistica (Rome)
• Introductory Course in Islam
• Licenciate in Arabic and Islamic Studies
(3 years, 1st year in Egypt)
• Doctorate
60Ateneo de Manila (Philippines)
• Chinese Studies Program (http://www.admu.
Dar Comboni for Arabic Studies (Egypt)
• Diploma in Arabic and Islamic Studies
Fundación Universitaria San Alfonso (Colombia)
• Specialisation in missiology (http://fusa.
Institute for Consecrated Life In Asia (Philippines)
• Licentiate in Missiology (
Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram Pontifical Institute (India)
• Licentiate in Missiology (
Sacred Heart Theological College (India)
• Licentiate in Missiology
Tangaza University College (Kenya)
• Institute of African Studies
Universidad Católica Boliviana (Bolivia)
• Instituto Latinoamericano de Misionología
Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth (Libano)
• Centre de Recherches et d’Etudes Arabes -
Islamics and arabic language studies
611. Il Missionario (1980)
2. Salesian Africa (1986)
3. Pastoral Amazónica. Semana de Estudos Missionários - Campo Grande (1986)
4. Evangelization in India. Study sessions for the Salesian Family on Evangelization in
Tribal Areas of India - Shillong (1987)
5. Africa Salesiana. Visita d’Insieme - Lusaka (1988)
6. Spiritualità Missionaria Salesiana I. La Concezione Missionaria di Don Bosco
7. Spiritualità Missionaria Salesiana II. L’Educazione Cristiana e Missionaria di Don
Bosco (1988)
8. Salesian Missionary Spirituality III. Prayer and the Salesian Missionary (1988)
9. Espiritualidad Misionera Salesiana IV. The Ideal of Mission (1988)
10. Spiritualité Missionnaire Salésienne V. The Missionary Project of the Salesians of
Don Bosco (1988)
11. Pastorale Salesiana in Contesto Islamico (1989)
12. Animazione Missionaria Salesiana II. Secondo Incontro di Studi per DIAM - Madrid
13. Pastoral Mapuche. Encuentro DIAM Salesiano - Junin de los Andes (1989)
14. The Far East. Cultures, Religions, and Evangelization - Hua Hin (1989)
15. Lettura Missionaria di “Educare i Giovani alla Fede” CG XXIII. Incontro di Procu-
ratori e DIAM dell’ Europa - Roma (1991)
16. Animación Misionera Salesiana. Primer Encuentro de DIAM de America Latina -
Lima (1991)
17. Missionary Animation. First Meeting of the PDMA for Asia and Australia - Banga-
lore (1992)
18. Spiritualité Missionnaire Salésienne, Les Jeunes Africains en Quête de Leur Identité.
Séminaire d’Animation - Yaounde (1992)
19. Evangelización y Cultura en el Contexto de Pastoral Amazonica. Seminario de Ani-
mación - Cumbayá (1993)
20. Evangelización y Cultura en el Contexto de Pastoral Andina. Seminario de Anima-
ción - Cumbayá (1994)
21. Evangelización y Cultura en el Contexto de Pastoral Mapuche. Seminario de Ani-
mación - Ruca Choroi (1993)
22. Evangelization and Interreligious Dialogue. Missionary Animation Seminar - Bat-
ulao (1994)
23. Evangelization and Interreligious Dialogue. Missionary Animation Seminar - Hyder-
abad (1994)
Pubblicazioni del Dicastero per le Missioni
(per titolo e anno di pubblicazione)24. Evangelización y Cultura en el Contexto de Pastoral Mesoamericana. Seminario de
Animación - Mexico (1994)
25. The Volunteer Movement and Salesian Mission (1995) - ENG, ESP, ITA, FRA, POR
26. Educare alla Dimensione Missionaria (1995)
27. Presenze dei Salesiani in Africa (directory published annually from 1986 to1996)
28. Church - Communion and Mutual Missionary Relationship. Missionary Animation
Seminar - Addis Ababa (1997)
29. Incontro Europeo DIAM - Roma (1997)
30. National Missionary Animation Meeting for PDMA - Mumbai (1997)
31. Manual of the Provincial Delegate for Missionary Animation (1998)
32. Uniqueness of Salvation in Jesus Christ and Need of Primary Evangelization. Anima-
tion and Missionary Formation Seminar SDB-FMA East Asia Oceania - Hua Hin
33. Missionary Praxis and Primary Evangelization. Animation and Missionary Forma-
tion Seminar SDB-FMA - Calcutta (1999)
34. Seminário de Pastoral em Contexto Afro-Americano. Seminario de Animação e For-
mação Missionária - Belo Horizonte (1999)
35. G. Ballin, I Fioretti d’un Missionario. Paraguay Cuore d’America (1999)
36. Le Projet-Afrique face au Defi de la Première Evangelisation et de la Phase de Con-
solidation. Seminaire d’Animation et de Formation Missionnaire - Yaounde-Mbeal-
mayo (1999)
37. La Primera Evangelización en Diálogo Intercultural. Experiencias y Formación de
Catecquistas. Seminario de Animación y Formación Misionera en el Contexto Pa-
storal Andino y Mesoamericana - Cumbayá (2000)
38. Seminário Sobre a Práxis Missionaria na Região Amazônica. Seminario de Ani-
mação e Formação Missionária - Manaus (2000)
39. Missionari nel Paese del Sol Levante Discepoli di Don Cimatti. Figure che Parlano
ancora (2000)
40. P. Baldisserotto, Rio de Agua Viva. Cartas de Pe. Antonio Scolaro Para a Missão e
Testemunho (2000)
41. Sprazzi di Vita. Figure che Parlano Ancora (2000)
42. Project Africa Between the Challenges of First Evangelization and the Phase of Con-
solidation. Animation and Missionary Formation Seminar SDB-FMA - Nairobi
43. Seminario di Animazione e Formazione Missionaria. SDB-FMA in Contesto Islamico
- Roma (2001)
44. Presenza Salesiana SDB-FMA in Contesto Ortodosso. Seminario di Animazione e
Formazione Missionaria - Roma (2002)
45. Salesian Family Missionary Seminar. Mission Animation Notes 1 - Port Moresby
46. East Asia and the Challenges of Mission Ad Gentes. Salesian Family Missionary
Seminar. Mission Animation Notes 2 - Hua Hin (2005)
47. Planning and Development Office. Proceedings of the Seminar - Rome (2005)
48. Les Defis de la Mission Ad Gentes en Afrique. Seminaire de Missiologie de la Fa-
mille Salesienne. Animation Notes 3 - Kinshasa (2006)
49. Mission Ad Gentes Today in Africa. Challenges to Mission Ad Gentes in the English
Speaking Provinces of Africa in the Light of the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in
Africa. Mission Animation Notes 4 - Nairobi (2006)
6450. Pueblos Indígenas y Evangelización. V Encuentro de Misioneras y Misioneros Sale-
sianos en Contextos Pluriculturales - Cumbayá (2006)
51. Project Africa [1980-2005] (2006)
52. Impegno Salesiano nel Mondo Islamico. Dossier (2008)
53. Voluntary Service in the Salesian Mission (2008) - ENG, ESP, ITA, FRA, POR
54. Mantén Viva tu Llama Misionera. II Seminario Americano de Animación Misionera
SDB-FMA - Cumbayá (2012)
55. Planning and Development Office at the Service of the Salesian Charism in the
Province - Hyderabad (2012) - ENG, ESP, FRA, POR
56. Provincial Mission Office at the Service of the Salesian Charism - Bonn (2012) -
57. Study Days on the Salesian Mission and Frontier Situations and Initial Proclamation
in Europe Today - Prague (2013)
58. Study Days on the Salesian Presence Among Muslims (2013) - ENG, ITA, FRA
59. Study days on the Salesian Mission and the Initial Proclamation of Christ in Oceania
in the Context of Traditional Religions and Cultures and Cultures in the Process of
Secularisation - Port Moresby (2013)
60. Study Days on the Salesian Mission and the Initial Proclamation of Christ in the
Three-fold Context of East Asia - Sampran (2013)
61. Study Days on the Salesian Mission and the Initial Proclamation of Christ in the
Three-fold Context of South Asia - Kolkata (2013)
62. The Missionary Formation of the Salesians of Don Bosco - Roma (2014) - ENG,
65Tip.: Istituto Salesiano Pio XI - Via Umbertide, 11 - 00181 Roma
Tel. - Fax - E-mail:
Gennaio 2014