Focus 2009

Missions 2009 - RMG01-11-2009

140th Salesian missionary expedition

Project: 140th Salesian missionary expedition
Date: September 7 - 27, 2009
Place: Pisana (Rome), Valdocco (Turin)
Depatment: Missions Dept

The history of 140 mission expeditions

During the 150 years of the Salesian Congregation more than 11,000 missionaries have left from Valdocco, so in 2009 the Rector Major also gave the missionary cross to a further 33 confreres in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Valdocco, following three weeks of immediate preparation.

Don Bosco had already sent his first missionaries from 1875 to Argentina but only after spending some time of preparation with them. No one, it must be said, was sent against his will. In fact some months beforehand he wrote and sent out a circular to the Salesians, asking them to write a formal request to go to the missions before he would choose, from amongst these candidates, those with greatest guarantee of being successful. Before they left he made them study Spanish (Ep.II, 451). He also b rought the first ten missionaries to the school at Varazze for a period of immediate preparation - which involved a course on customs, culture, history, geography and language - the teacher was the Argentine Consul in Italy, Mr Gazzolo(ASS, I, 253). Don Bosco wanted his missionaries well prepared for their departure.

Discernment process for the missionary vocation

Let us present some of the steps along the way to being a Salesian missionary today. IT all begins with a request made to the Rector Major, obviously based on the confrere's first discernment. Each candidate places himself at the disposition of the Congregation, however he may express a preference or a concrete predispoition for a specific mission territory.

Good discernment is especially required for the missionary vocation ad gentes. Usually, after the request to the Rector Major, the candidate's superior is asked to handle a discernment process according to certain criteria. The key to good discernment is cooperation at three levels: local, provincial and by the mission department. The opinion of the Provincial and his Council on the candidate is most important (Criteria in:

Once there is a positive result from discernment, the Rector Major assigns the candidate to his future mission destination. A good understanding of the person and capabilities of the candidate helps avoid undesirable surprises in the future. Then there is a dialogue between the two provincials concerned to smooth and prepare the way.

Immediate preparatory course for new missionaries

The course comes 3-4 weeks before the mission sending, and it takes place every year from the last Sunday in September either at the General House (Rome) or on a pilgrimage to the Salesians sources in Piedmont (Colle Don Bosco). The aims of the course are a first orientation for responding to the new call - cultural-anthropological, theological and Salesian dimensions. Two weeks in Rome and a week of pilgrimage to the roots of the charism help each new missionary understand his motivations and sets him on the path of ongoing formation. Course contents are available in Agora ( or can be sent via email as a help for initial formation according to needs of the provinces (Missions Dept - mission formation Fr. Aldred Maravilla:

Content and method

Three main units: cultures, missiology, Salesian missions, divided per week - from moring to evening group dynamics in either language or mixed groups punctuate the days. There are five key aims: (1)a deeper understanding of motivation for missions and the purposes of the departure; (2) Being prepared to face up to a new situation and culture at the beginning of missionary life; (3) Acquiring a relational style with others which respects their culture and values and fosters mutual enrichment; (4) Visiting the main place of Christian Rome to give a deep sense of Church; (5) Visiting Don Bosco's places to understand charismatic identity for the Salesian missionary. All this is integarted into the task of drawing up the personal project of Salesian life during the course, under the guidance of the formators.

2009 - three weeks of intense intercultural community life

Every year around thirty participants from different cultures, languaes and continents have a unique community experience: lectio divina daily with group sharing; lessons and workshops according to main languages of the group (English, Spanish, Italian, French Vietnamese). Rosary in different languages, personal chat with Missions Councillor, intercultural exchange, visit to Ivrea - former missions aspirantate, meeting with young formandi in formation houses are part of the intense experience.

There would be no missions without missionaries! In praying for many Salesian missionary vocations in the provinces, we would like to offer everyone experinece of this course!

Address: Equipe del Dicastero per le missioni salesiane
Casa generalizia
Via della Pisana,1111
00163 Roma
Tel: (39) 06.656.121