IN HE LIGHT OF THE HOLY FATHER’S PRAYER INTENTION
So that many among our young animators and committed lay people may be inspired to offer their time and capacities to missionary service.
The Congregation promotes Volunteering Salesian Missionary as a programme that involves young people in the missionary call of the Lord. We pray that in our Provinces courageous initiatives of missionary voluntary work may flourish among our young people.
October is the missionary month for the whole Catholic Church. Its high point is the celebration of World Mission Sunday on the penultimate Sunday of October. It was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1926 at the request of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. Through the Pope’s annual Message, the World Mission Sunday reminds us that the Church is missionary by her very nature. Hence, every member of the Church is called to share in the responsibility for mission ad gentes, that is, share the gift of faith with those who have not yet received it.
When prepared with care and lived with real fervour, “Mission Sunday” becomes a precious opportunity to form mission-conscious believers. Through organised initiatives for mission animation, every Catholic is stirred up to actively participate in the Church’s mission, above all through prayer and by offering of sacrifices that come to us through sickness or in ordinary daily life. Connected with prayer and sacrifices, and never isolated from these, is solidarity for material and financial needs of the Church’s missionary activities. Pope Pius XI, John XXIII, John Paul II had wisely stipulated that all offerings collected on World Mission Sunday be destined in their entirety to the needs of the Church’s mission ad gentes. Indeed, financial sacrifices from the faithful ‘are essential for sustaining and building up the Church and for showing love’ but must be ‘enlightened and inspired by faith’ (Redemptoris missio, 81).
By being engaged, in different ways, in the Church’s missionary activities, every believer’s faith grows, is strength-ened and revitalised with ‘fresh enthusiasm and new incentive’ (Redemptoris missio, 2). Let every ‘Mission Sunday’ be an opportunity to mobilise all the members of our EPCs in fostering prayer, sacrifice and solidarity for the missions: those in places with deep Christian tradition and those where they have just received the faith, those with sufficient resources and those weighed down by poverty, those freely developing along with those suffering persecution!
Fr. Alfred Maravilla, SDB
Councillor for the Missions
Every year since 1875 the departing missionaries received and continue to receive a crucifix full of meaning.
Da Mihi Animas Coetera Tolle: this is the motto that has characterised the Sons of Don Bosco from the beginning. This brief Salesian prayer, acquires a particular glow in the missionary context: to leave everything, even one's own land, security and culture, to dedicate oneself without limits to those to whom one is sent, to be instruments of salvation for them.
The Holy Spirit who descends on the Good Shepherd, as he did in the river Jordan, now descends on Christ present in the pastoral dynamism of the Church. Any missionary activity without the Holy Spirit, without his light, without his discernment, without his strength and without his holi-ness, is reduced only to a series of empty activities, only that they are carried out in a distant place.
"Go, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Mt 28:19) is the heart of the missionary mandate of the Risen One. These words give us the mandate to make all people disciples of Jesus: The Greek text emphasiz-es the mathêteúsate, "make disciples", which is much more than docete (to teach), and which is fulfilled through three other verbs (vv.18.19): "Ide", "baptizing" and "teaching". Evangelization requires the attitude of an "outgoing Church", so as to reach everyone, offering the fullness of God's gift, through words and works; words that teach all that the Master has revealed to us; works: all the creative educational-pastoral of being a missionary, full of initiatives, which bring dignity and human-ity to the poorest young people; but above all offering the greatest of all works: immersion in the sacra-mental grace of baptism, which leads all people to become part of the fullness of life in the mystery of God, the communion of Father-Son-Holy Spirit.
My missionary vocation was born after my secondary school, when I first met Father Sabbe Albert, a Salesian priest from Belgium who was working in Kinshasa. He inspired the youth of the oratory and members of the vocation group, where I was also an active member. His enthusiasm and eagerness to work with young people attracted all of us. I was greatly moved by his life and example. Throughout my formation years, I pondered over them. After my philosophical studies I had the great privilege of having some missionary experience in Maridi, South Sudan, where I was sent for my practical training. Thus, began my missionary journey.
The challenges and the difficulties I’m facing as missionary are first of all the challenge of language. Working in a place like Palabek, a refugee Camp in northern Uganda, we need to learn more than one language. Here people are placed in a large Settlement divided into Zones and Blocks who belong to many different tribes and languages. Communicating with people of different languages is not always easy.
Other challenges are the extreme poverty of our people, distances from place to place within the settlement and difficulty in reaching out to people for celebrating the Sacraments. Due to the remoteness of the place I also at times feel a sense of isolation. It is difficult to access towns such as Gulu; and Kampala is very far. My greatest joy is celebrating the Sacraments and bringing Jesus to young people, the vulnerable and the refugees. Living amidst the refugees gives me the joy of understanding their struggles in life and sharing their life in every way possible. For me this is true missionary life, feeling the incarnation of Jesus, who came among us and shared our condition. My life in the Salesian community also gives me great joy; my confreres are from different countries and continents. We share the liveliness of the Salesian charism and the happiness of living together.
To those who want to share my Salesian missionary vocation, I would say, Being missionary ad gentes “ choose the better part ”. Being missionary ad gentes is a precious vocation that makes us happy always because the Lord Jesus himself is sharing this experience and we will surely discover the joy of being Jesus way. Let us not be afraid of meeting people we have never seen before ’ disciples in Don Bosco’s. In doing this, we are just fulfilling Jesus ’ call: “ Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples.... And I will be with you always, to the end of the ages ”. ( Mt 28, 1920 )
Fr. Julius, missionary in Palabek, Uganda
Fr. Pierluigi Cameroni SDB, Postulator General for the Causes of Saints
The Venerable Monsignor Vincenzo Cimatti (1879-1965), a missionary in Japan wrote to his former pupil who was discouraged by life, "Don't say those discordant words (you know I like music so much) 'I am a finished man! (citizen and religious) in private and public life ’ Continue to do your duty as a father (for your wife and children) according to your possibilities; your duty as a teacher for your pupils; your duty as a gentleman from all points of view , dedicate more directly to the Lord the activities He has granted you in body and soul but pray and act with all the members of your family according to the different conditions or positions in which they find themselves. It is far from over... it is time to begin again to become more and more active in your duties as a man, as an educator, as a father, as a citizen, as a Christian ... but you must lean on the Lord with faith and humility, and you will see that everything will succeed for the good.