Salesian Holiness

Andrej Majcen




Beginning of the Diocesan Inquiry: 24-09-2010


Servant of God ANDREJ MAJCEN (1904-1999)

The life of the Salesian missionary Fr Andrej Majcen can be divided into three great periods, where God leads him along wonderful, humanly incomprehensible paths which then turn out to be the right way. Fr Majcen followed them and finally thanked God: "I am grateful to God for having called me and for giving me courage to follow his call. The adventure of life, along which God sends us, is very significant! ”, he confessed several times.

FIRST PERIOD 1904-1935 - Preparation for his missionary vocation

Born 30 September 1904 in Maribor (Slovenia), he received a good Christian upbringing in the family: his father Andrej was a practical man and always ready to help people in difficulties. He instilled the rule in his son Andrej: “Be good to everyone and you will never regret it!”. His mother, Marija Šlik, was very devout and advised Andrea to consider a clerical vocation, but the father's view won out that he be a teacher, since only that way could he help people. Fearing that he mnight become wayward, his mother told him: “Never forget the Blessed Virgin!” and offered him St Francis de Sales book, The Introduction to the Devout Life as spiritual reading. At the Teachers College at Maribor he continued to do good, visiting the Marian Shrine each morning and the baptismal font where he had become a child of God. He grew as a hard-working, steady, person able to achieve everything he wanted to without leeting problems get in the way.
When he finished his studies he came as a teacher to the Salesian elementary school at Radna, but the Salesians wnated to involve him as a religious vocation among the sons of Don Bosco. He was attracted by Don Bosco's life and in 1924 decided to enter the Salesian novitiate. He experienced a number of humiliations, suspicion and slanderand his novitiate was prolonged, but he persevered, modelling his character in the spirit of Don Bosco.
The ten years in Ljubljana – Rakovnik were a time of preparation for his missionary vocation.  Due to his weak grasp of Latin they wanted to send him away so he studied harder, but with lack of good nutrition his health was seriously affected. News of the martyrdom of Bishop Louis Versiglia and Fr Callisto Caravario (China - 1930) reawakened the desire for the missions in him. A meeting with missionary Fr Jožef Kerec (1932) led him to decide to leave for the missions in China. Nel 1933 he was ordained priest and onl 15 August 1935 at the Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Rakovnik, he received the missionary cross and brought a lifelong covenant with the Help of Christians to a conclusion. The Lord had plans for him and well knew that he needed this man to realise them

SECOND PERIOD - Missionary in China and Vietnam

He began his adventure with the experience of the preventive system in Kunming, with the great missionary Fr Jožef Kerec. Fr Majcen's decision was decisive: "I will announce the Gospel to the Chinese in the Chinese language, so I will be Chinese with the Chinese" It was the right decision. He becomes attached to them as brothers and sisters and learnred their language. He did not let himself be influenced by the resentment of some missionaries and cultivated a preferential love for poor young people and for poor people generally. Everyone found a  sincere friend and a caring father in him.
He was a simple individual, open to all, who paid no attention to sacrifice and hard work. Already then it was being said of him: "Be humble and good like Fr Majcen and you too can become a saint!" Even the authorities of Mao's communist regime saw him as a man who worked for the good of the Chinese and while the other missionaries had already been expelled or were suffering in prison, he was a Russian language teacher in the state middle school for a year. After this he experienced the first expulsion, the first exile, but he did not give up. He healed the wounds and prepared  for the new mission in Macau.
Then In Hanoi he accepted an orphanage with five dollars in his pocket. The poor orphans, 550 of them, found him to be a caring father. After the collapse of North Vietnam, he transfered all the orphans to the south and saved their lives.
The golden age of his missionary work. then followed. From nothing, over the twenty years he spent in Vietnam, an immense Salesian tree flourished, and with his breadth of outlook, the Salesian presence in Vietnam began to consolidate. This is why he is called "the Don Bosco of Vietnam". Rector, Vice Provincialr, first novice master but above all a supporter and formator of religious vocations, the man who transplanted Don Bosco's charism in the Vietnamese soul followed his usual principle: "Vietnamese with the Vietnamese, in the Vietnamese manner." He was the first to translate the Salesian Constitutions into Vietnamese with the help of some collaborators. He welcomed everyone into Salesian houses, without excluding anyone, favouring those most in need. All this aroused great sympathy and profound respect for him.
When the Communists came to power, he rejected the offer of an American General to transport him and the Salesians abroad. He said: "The Vietnamese must stay with the Vietnamese and I with them!" Then he sent the confreres to the countryside, in small groups, and thus saved them. Here too his new 'masters' recognised his work for the good of the people. Although a foreign citizen he had the right to vote in the popular assembly. At his departure they said to him: "You havel educated the Vietnamese Salesians well and they will now continue your work ...". And again he was expelled, though not in a dramatic way, and with great recognition. Physically exhausted, but spiritually mature, he was recognised in Taiwan as a spiritual guide and a great friend of young people. Thej following doctors orders (Dr. Janez Janež), he had to take a rest for six months in his homeland to recover his physical health. It was a departure that would be without return.

THIRD PERIOD 1979-1999 - Missionary at home

This too was especially foreseen in the plans of Divine Providence. At home, since the then Yugoslavia was a socialist State and therefore with diploimatic realtions with the State of Vietnam, Fr Macjen was the only reference point for Vietnam's connections with the Salesian world. In Ljubljana he formed a vast circle of people who gather material and financial aid, which Fr Majcen then sent to Vietnam. There are many extant letters over these twenty years, written by the Vietnamese Salesians, by other Vietnamese people, from China, from the Superiors, from the Cooperators ... In these letters Fr Andrej is called: "The Don Bosco of Vietnam", "Moses", "Dad ","The Father of Light "..., expressions that express the deep admiration and great affection in which this man of God was held.
After the celebration of his golden jubilee of priesthood (1983) he came to realise that he could not return among his own in Vietnam, and so he directed all his energies to his increase in holiness. This daily tendency to holiness and spiritual commitment are documented in his spiritual diaries, Meditations and notes. There are 6,500 pages of manuscripts: as he planned and monitored his spiritual commitment in detail each day. Four special moments in his life are deeply felt: the day of his baptism, when he became  a child of God; the day of his religious vows, when he became a Salesian; the day of his priestly ordination, when he became a priest of Christ and the day he received his missionary crucifix, when he became a messenger and apostle of Christ.
Alongside missionary animation among the Salesians, he dedicated most of his time to spiritual direction and to the ministry of reconciliation. He was a highly sought-after spiritual guide, especially by priests and religious.
Several times during his life he mentioned that he wanted to live to the age of 95. He spent the last few months consuming himself like a candle. He died at the age of 95 on 30 September 1999! He went to heaven on the same day of his birth back in 1904!


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