MISSIONARY EXPEDITION 141
The 141st Missionary Expedition was officially commissioned on Sunday 26 September, from the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Valdocco, Turin, The missionary mandate was given by the Rector Major of the Salesians, Fr Pascual Chávez.
The solemn celebration in one of the most significant places in Salesian history, the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, saw new missionaries setting out for the 5 continents, an event which recalls the first missionary expedition sent by Don Bosco himself on 11 November 1875, and re-confirms the global missionary vocation of the Congregation.
This years receiving their cross from the Rector Major there were 42SDBs, 9 more than last year. Many of them, 24, come from Asia, of whom 11 from Vietnam alone. The rest are from Europe (7), America (5) and Africa, which this year for the first time is sending out more missionaries than it is welcoming.
In addition to these there are 3 other Salesians who went to the missions during 2010, two sent to Haiti and one to Fiji, and who were not present at this ceremony since they are already in their mission lands.
As well as the Salesians on their way to “missio ad gentes” there were 8 FMA missionaries and 22 lay volunteers.
The destinations of the new missionaries are works and communities around the world. Some of them, including 11 Salesians, will be going as missionaries to European countries, a decision in keeping with the guidelines of the GC26 and the commitment undertaken for the Project for Europe. The Salesian charism, with its preferential option for the poor, in fact involves the numerous pockets of material and spiritual poverty often hidden away on the outskirts of modern western cities. In addition, all the Provinces are responsible for sending missionaries and the communion between communities is also seen in the mutual support they provide in various situations.
The Salesian missionaries were prepared for this day by attending a preparation course organised by the Department for the Missions and held between Rome and Turin, during which they have had the opportunity to meet the Rector Major and get to know some of the main places of Salesian interest.
The need for specific formation for the missionaries is based on the knowledge that in the missionary apostolate enthusiasm and the wealth of one’s own faith, fundamental though they may be, are not in themselves sufficient. Missionaries need the appropriate preparation in order to go to a new country and among different people, with respect and trust in them so that their presence may be a welcome effective, humble and beneficial one.
Mission Department, Rome, Pisana