Salesian Holiness

Stephen Ferrando




Declared Venerable: 03-03-2016

In this article:

Fascinated by Don Bosco when he was very young

Stephen Ferrando was born in Rossiglione (Genoa) on 28 September 1895. His parents were Agustine and Josephine Salvi. As a small child he attended Salesian schools, first at Fossano then Turin. He was fascinated by Don Bosco's life and asked to become a Salesian.

Medal for valour during the war

He made his first profession at Foglizzo Canavese (Turin) in 1912. During World War I, he served in the medical corps, and received the Silver Medal for Valour (Versie-Corite, 1917).

At the end of his theological studies, he was ordained a priest in Borgo S. Martino (Alessandria) in 1923.

Amongst first Salesians to go to Assam, India

His request to join the first Salesians going to the Assam region of India bordering Tibet, China and Burma (1921/23) was granted. He was Director of Novices and rector of the studentate of philosophy and theology for ten years. As a good son of Don Bosco, he went into the villages with his young Salesians, organizing festive oratories for the youngsters and this way learned the language. 

Appointed first Bishop of Krishnagar

To his great surprise, on 9 July 1934, Pius XI named him first bishop of Krishnagar. The following 10 November, he was ordained bishop in Shillong by the Archbishop of Calcutta.

Transferred to Shillong

On 26 November 1935, the Pope transferred him to the diocese of ShiIlong. On 14 March 1936 he took possession of the new diocese, kissing the ground and entrusting its future to the Crucified Jesus.

The new Bishop asked his priests to go into the villages to preach the Gospel to the people. He cntinued to do this himself.

An apostolate marked by the Salesian style

His apostolate was marked by the Salesian style: joy, simplicity and direct contact with the people. He approached young people, the poor and the needy; He accepted everyone in a spirit of loving kindness. 

Wanted Indians to be the evangelizers of their own people

He rebuilt the great Cathedral and missionary complex and spread devotion to Mary Help of Christians and Don Bosco. He wanted Indians to be the first evangelizers on their own soil. He founded the Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians to teach the love of Jesus, Mary Help of Christians, Don Bosco in the missions and amongst the poor. On 26 June 1969, in the spirit of the Vatican Council in whose work he had participated, he tendered his resignation from the diocese, and was given the title of Titular Archbishop of Troina by Pope Paul VI.

Returned to Assam to consecrate the cathedral

In 1972 he returned to Assam and consecrated the now completed Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Shillong (24 April 1973). Back in Italy, the aging missionary bishop retired to the Salesian house of Quarto (Genoa).

In 1970, he wrote: "Here in Italy they often ask me: 'How did you ever leave Assam after 47 years of missionary life?' I reply: 'Because at long last the day I longed for for 27 years has dawned, and the Church in India can now stand on its own two feet!"

He died peacefully in the Lord on 20 June 1978. Nine years later his beloved daughters, the Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians wished to have the mortal remains of their founder amongst them again. Mgr Ferrando's urn was placed in the chapel of the Convent of St Margaret in Shillong, in the land which had become his second home.



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Mons. Ferrando: un vero fondatore (P.L. Cameroni)
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Profilo da Bollettino Salesiano 1997
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