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AFE Don Bosco Eastern Africa may 2013

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Don Bosco Eastern Africa, May 2013



and suggestions.
Don Bosco

East Africa

The Salesian Bulletin was founded by St. John Bosco in 1877. ‘Don
Bosco Eastern Africa’ is the Salesian Bulletin published by the Salesians
of Don Bosco, Eastern Africa Province Nairobi, Kenya.


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Chief Editor:

Fr. Sebastian Koladiyil

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Fr. FELICE Molino
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2 Editorial
3 Don Bosco relates
4 The guys lack more in liveliness than in
6 I always needed everything
7 Francesco di Roma
9 Rector Major Letter to Pope Francis

11 Unusual facts about Pope Francis
13 The Salesian’s filial loyalty to Peter’s

14 a Boy With a Dream
16 Pope Francis’ Coat of arm and Motto

We welcome letters to the Editor. Send your comments
Message from the Superior General
of the Daughters of Mary help of
Christians to the holy Father

a Few of the Pope’s Favourite Things

Thank you for everything

journey to holiness

Our new Priest - Fr. Benn agunga

Mary help of Christians

Rooted in good soil!! VIDES growth
in the world

The future of the Congregation
depends on the quality of formation:
the Rector Major’s new letter

From the


Pope Francis, a Great Communicator

The first words of Pope Francis“Buona Sera”revealed the great communicator in him. On the evening of March
13th on that rainy evening in Rome, the simplicity and straightforwardness of the Cardinal from argentina, jorge
Mario Bergoglio captured the heart of millions, Catholics and non-Catholics around the world. With the few
words that followed he created a relationship with everyone across the world. In his simple and unassuming
words and gestures he made a connection with everyone. Ever since his election, his every move, gesture, look
and his going out of the protocol to say hello to the eagerly waiting crowd created a relationship as never seen
before. his very body language communicates hundreds of unspoken messages to his audience. his style is
relational. That “good evening” from the balcony of St. Peters Basilica seems to come to the mind of everyone,
every time he makes a public appearance.

Communication creates relationship. While communicating, one passes on information which creates
relationship with the other, in other words “who I am for you and who you are for me”. When we communicate
we send messages of relationship and the way we communicate defines the quality of the relationship we are
intending to create. Communication is the backbone of all we do in our ministry.

Pope Francis spoke of poverty, peace, mercy justice etc. but an important aspect to consider is his
communication style. So far many people have written or spoken about Pope Francis’s ‘going outside the box’
to reveal his warm personality through which he demonstrated his closeness to the people.

Pope Francis’s greetings, “good evening” on 13th March, “good morning” and “have a good Sunday; eat well”
of 17th March at the angelus, though simple, are quite complex that go beyond just few words of introduction.
They were not the official liturgical greetings but warm, simple and fraternal greetings.These greetings sounded
like greetings among equals. One of his remarks, “that book did me good but don’t think I’m just advertising
one of my cardinal’s books!” was a personal sharing coupled with fun.

In his address to the journalists he demonstrated his sensitivity to all irrespective of one’s religion or background.
he said, “Given that many of you do not belong to the Catholic Church, and others are non-believers, I shall
impart this blessings from the heart, in silence, on each on you, respecting each one’s conscience, but knowing
that each one of you is a son or daughter of God. May God bless you”. Everyone even those who were not
believers felt respected, no one was excluded.

after a Sunday Mass at the St. ann’s Parish in the Vatican he went out of his way to greet the faithful like a
parish priest. This demonstrated his pastoral heart more effectively than any other official Church blessing.
Pope Francis is a great communicator

Sebastian Koladiyil


From the Rector Major From the Rector Major


I was a lively and attentive boy
who, with mum’s permission went
to the various festivals where there
were acrobats and magicians. I
always put myself in the front row,
eyes fixed on their movements
with which they tried to distract
the audience. Little by little I could
see their tricks; returning home,
I repeated them for hours. But
often the moves did not produce
the desired effect. It wasn’t easy to
walk on that blessèd rope between
two trees. how many tumbles,
how many peeled knees! and
how many times I was wanted to
throw everything into the air ...
Then I started again, sweaty, tired,
sometimes even disappointed.
Then, a little by little, I was able to
get it together; I could feel the soles
of my bare feet clinging to the rope;
becoming one with my footsteps
and I then did as I wanted, glad
to repeat and to invent other
movements. That’s why, when I
spoke to the boys, I said to them:


“Let’s hold on to easy things, but
let’s do it with perseverance.” There
you have it: my down-to-earth
pedagogy, the result of so many
victories and as many defeats, with
the stubbornness that was one of
my most marked characteristics.

That’s how my style came into
being, to educate without using
big words, without any great
ideological schemes, without
references to many famous authors.
That was how my pedagogy was
born: I learned on the meadows of
Becchi, later on the streets of Chieri,
later still in prisons, in the streets, in
the alleys of Valdocco. a pedagogy
built in a courtyard.

I dared to prove it a few years later
when I went to Chieri to continue
my studies and was accepted by the
teacher, in front of the whole class,
with a not very exciting sentence:
“This is a guy or a large mole or a great
talent”. It made me feel awkward in
the extreme; I remember coping
with these words: “That’s something
beyond the pale, Sir: I am a poor
young man who wants to do his duty
and progress in studies”.

Then there was that blessed
dream when I was 9-10 years old

(the dream which was repeated
many more times!) that I would
get hammered, and the desire
to become a priest for the boys
became stronger ... and then I
did something that didn’t make a
genius of me, but in fact, achieved
a beautiful victory in my character,
a real breakthrough; i.e., stretch
out your hand to ask for help,
something just to realise my
dream. I would admit a little later
to a Salesian: “you don’t know how
much this begging cost me”. With
my proud temperament, it was
certainly not easy to be humble
enough to ask. My courage was
empowered by a high level of
trust in Providence; and also what
I had learned from my mother. at
her school I had learned one rule
that led me everywhere: “When I
encounter a problem, treat it as if I
found the road ahead blocked by a
big boulder; if I can’t remove it, I just
turn around.”

and I assure you: I found many
large boulders on my path. I shall
briefly mention some of them:

1860, for example, was a typically
difficult year. Fr Cafasso, my friend,
confessor and spiritual director

Don Bosco Eas
Don Bosco EasDon Bosco East
erern Afr
n Afrn Africa, Ma
ica, Maica, May 20
y 20y 201


had died,: how much I missed his
presence, his advice and his help
with finances.

Then, from the Government side,
I encountered serious difficulties,
authentic “boulders”: targeted
searches which were disastrous
to Valdocco, as if I were a criminal!
My boys were living in fear, while
armed guards entered every where.
The searches continued, creating
a climate of fear and uncertainty. I
wrote to the Minister of the Interior,
Louis Farini, for an interview. I had
the guts to tell him with humble
determination: “For my kids I
demand justice and restoration of
honour so that they don’t lack the
bread of life”. I know that he took a
great risk because these men were
an anticlerical Government, but I
didn’t lack the necessary courage.
and so gradually the searches

I never gave up! I said to the boys:
“The courage of the bad guys is not
what makes others afraid. Be brave
and you’ll see them fold their wings”.
a French benefactor from Lyon
had sent me a holy picture with
a phrase I have never forgotten
because it served as a guide: “Be
with God like the sparrow that feels
the branch shake but still continues
to sing, knowing that it has wings”. It

wasn’t just a poetic expression, but
an act of courageous confidence in
the Providence of the Lord, because
he alone “is the master of our hearts”.

When they were about to leave for
their holidays, I used to say this to
my kids: “Be men and not branches!
Lift your head high, walk straight in
the service of God, within the family
and outside, in the Church and in the
square. What is human respect? A
papermachè monster that does not
bite. What are the impertinent words
of these bad guys? Soap-bubbles that
disappear in an instant. We cannot
cure adversaries and their taunts.

Remember that knowledge without
conscience is nothing but the ruin of
the soul.”

I never got tired of instilling into
their little heads: “Give glory to God
with your conduct, consolation to
your relatives and your superiors.
Otherwise a young, undisciplined
‘lazybones’, will be a disgraceful
youth, a burden to his parents,
a weight to his superiors, and a
weight for himself”.

The future would arise from
Valdocco,“good citizens and honest
Christians” of which the world has
much need.




Thanks to my mother’s maternal
presence in the Pinardi house
(where the Salesian work began)
there was this straightforward style
of human relationships, made up
of warm patience, understanding
and correction, in perfect family
style. With so many at home, the
discipline was necessary because
all were not involved in creating

‘Bedlam’. Discipline reduced it to a
minimum, but “short deals make
long friends” as she, in her innate
folk-wisdom, summed up her

Many years passed and with a
rich experience of good results,
I could say that “With guys, the
punishment fits the crime.”I wanted
to make it clear that a punishment
must serve to improve things and
not make them worse. a brief
reduction of affection, a sad look, a
more reserved and serious attitude,


a little word in the ear said with
gentleness and patience, were ways
I was using to correct and prevent
possibly incorrect behaviours.

Of the boys accepted, not
everyone was like Dominic Savio.
It happened one day that a poor
assistant, probably not well
accepted by the older ones, lost
patience and went on to yell some
deafening shouts in an attempt to
impose himself. he had created
a climate of resistance that could
lead from one moment to the
next into a dangerous form of
uncontrolled insubordination.
Everyone expected that I would say
something; I did, after the evening
prayers, at the “good-night”.

With a very serious face taken to
depict our education style, I showed
them the disappointment to know
that one of them had been treated
so harshly and that on his part he
had shown a grave lack of respect
and obedience to whoever was in
charge of maintaining discipline. To
put the record straight, I finished:
“On the one hand they are never
abused, on the other no more
violence”. I was given the classic
shot, ‘to run with the hare and hunt
with the hounds’. Then I paused, my
face began to smile and I resumed
my talk: “I wish that the love you
bear to all accomplishes even the
impossible ... I am sorry for the
beating you took, but I cannot just
take them off.” I was able to break
the ice; everyone laughed, I waited
for silence and again wished
everyone a good night.

The experience taught me that
it is much easier to get irritated, to
threaten than to try to persuade
with good manners. It was like
an exercise-spring that causes
exhaustion sometimes, but I knew
that certain difficult, rebellious
and grumpy temperaments I could
win over only with love, patience
and meekness. In practice, it left
only getting down to goodness,
speaking from the heart, which
corrects with love and gentleness.

The guys in general, typically
make mistakes more from
thoughtlessness than out of malice.
and some educators, driven by
excessive haste and impatience,
commit mistakes more serious than
the deficiencies of these same guys.
Not infrequently I realized that
some who never pardoned others
were very sensitive and quick to
excuse themselves.

and when one uses two weights
and two measures in arbitrary form,
educators end up committing
mistakes and blunders. I often
remind my Salesians that boys are
“small psychologists” when judging
their educators, teachers and

and expect others to say ‘yes’ to
their games and their dreams.

By that time I had adopted a
foolproof method to educate to
the good: remain always among
the boys. I wanted my Salesians as
“playground educators”. Open to
dialogue, creative, vigilant but not
suspicious, there but not stuffy, but
pleasant and bright, true friends.

It was what I defined as help: a
qualified presence, never neutral,
always proactive; a help that was
pleasant, an active and qualified
presence. a way of being-withthe-
young, alongside them. “Being
in the yard”, to share hopes and
dreams with kids, to build together

assistants and the shape, tone and
the carelessness with which they
take advantage of their authority.
I always wish my dear Salesians
would know to wait for the right
time to make the necessary
correction; never driven by anger
or revenge. and that they would
never forget that kids, the young
people need to be taken one by
one, day by day, to direct them to
the Lord because only he knows
how to design his divine face in
them. and that they would always
carry with them, my dear Salesians,
a medicine which is essential and
foolproof (though not found in any
pharmacy): before you say ‘yes’ to
the Lord, the young people want

a better and worthy future, without
barriers of mistrust. The courtyard,
as a “sacred” place of friendship
and encounter where friendly
confidence is born, where the
teacher climbs down from the chair,
no longer has in hand the class’s
diary, where he does not apply
just to the qualifications achieved
as to what he is, for values which
he expresses, for the ideals that
animate him.

The young man, even the
most rebellious, lets himself be
influenced only by kindness and
patience. For this, I suggested to my
Salesians: “More than just the head
of a superior you should have the
heart of a father “.

Don Bosco Eas
Don Bosco EasDon Bosco East
erern Afr
n Afrn Africa, Ma
ica, Maica, May 20
y 20y 201


I Always Needed Everything


I was born poor, and yet in my
hands have been incredible sums,
which I never attached to the heart.
For me being poor meant being
free, the true freedom that the
Lord had taught us by example and
words. Free, not fettered! Poor as I
was, I knew and frequented many
‘well off’. I had an obsession that
was not always understood, indeed,
I raised a hornet’s nest of criticism
tedious and suffocating. I said and I
repeated often: “Charity is not done
by the rich, but we do it for them,
thus offering the opportunity to do
a little good”. Clearer than this ... I
was convinced that“ there is no one
who dares to tell gentlemen the
truth “. I remember writing a letter
which, despite its brevity, managed
to disturb a wealthy banker often in
his sleep:“you must absolutely save
your soul, but you must give to the
poor all your superfluities: I pray
God to grant you this extraordinary

I have written thousands of
letters; the majority of them to
solicit grants from the public
bodies and from the benefactors. In
all, though, there is always a “Thank
you”, a word of sincere gratitude. I
had learned it from my mum! I said:
“It is not possible for those who
have gratitude not to have even the
other virtues.”

I lived, asking and thanking.

although I did not know and,
therefore, I never used the word
“marketing”, I was using this
technique – in my own way –, and
how! here’s how I expressed myself:
“We are at a time when you have
to work. The world has become
materialistic, so you have to work
and make known the good that
you do “. The donations which I
received, modest or generous,
were not gathering dust in a safe;
the benefactors were pleased to
see where their donations were

helping. and they were also ...
encouraged to continue!

To thank was always considered a
strict duty of justice. So I lived and
so I taught in my petty pedagogy
every day. To the guys I used to
repeat: “We always feel sorry for
the ungrateful, because they’re
unhappy.” Ingratitude was for me
one of the worst forms of blindness
because it didn’t let us see the
benefits, the gestures of love, the
signs of the fatherly goodness
of God. and here the catechesis
‘floated in’ by which Mamma
Margaret helped us to understand
how God manifests himself in life’s

events, happy or not: and she was
always found enough reasons
to give thanks from the heart.
appreciation is the heart’s memory,
because only the heart has the
ability to remember. Whoever
thanks carries in their heart the
love of God and rejoices at this. We
are what we remember! My boys
breathed this atmosphere. It was
certainly a moment of profound
emotion which I felt that night, on
the eve of my name-day, when I
heard a knock at the door of my
office, a bare room. When I opened
it, I found Felice Reviglio and Carlo
Gastini who came to offer me
greetings; then, they offered me
two small silver hearts as a token
of gratitude. I remained speechless
for such an eloquent gift that I had
received; that gesture made me
understand that the right road had
been chosen, because these guys

had figured out that blessed and
wonderful family spirit which they
supported so much. and there I
was, not even knowing for how
long, staring at those two small
hearts, while my eyes filled with

The years spent in Chieri, first as
a student and then as a seminarian
(10 wonderful years!), had also
been years of many sacrifices and,
sometimes, even in hunger. The
bowl of soup that Mr. Pianta gave
me for the various works in his bar
wasn’t enough for the stomach of
a robust eighteen-year old. joseph
Blanchard helped me as he could.
his mother was selling fruit in the
market; I often took away some
apples, chestnuts and other fruits.
Certain favours, which benefit
an empty stomach, are not easily
forgotten. and so, many years
later, I was in Chieri, about noon.
I was chatting with some priests
who were my companions in the
seminary, when, just over the wall
I saw someone pass who I could
never really forget, my friend
Blanchard.I introduced him to my
fellow priests as a distinguished
benefactor. and I told the story of
the fruit of many years earlier. Then
I invited him to come with me to
visit at Valdocco. This fact occurred
in 1876. Ten years later, my friend
finally managed to keep his word.
I wasn’t well. There were lots of
difficulties in the porter’s lodge, as
many in the waiting room. “Tell him,
at the very least, that Blanchard came
to find him”. I recognised his voice
and invited him in. We chatted for
a long time. When it was lunch time
I apologized for not being able to
get up, but told the secretary: “Will
you make a place for this friend of
mine in the Superiors refectory,
in my place”. and so an elderly
gentleman, quite clumsily, that
day sat among those who guided
the young Salesian Congregation.
It was the least I could do for him,
after 50 years, my thanks ...


Francesco di Roma

From the moment he appeared
at the central balcony of St. Peter’s,
Pope Francis signaled that he
intended to do things differently
from his predecessor. In his humility
and informal address to the faithful,
he has indicated the shape of things
to come at the Vatican.

Pentecost came early this year
for the Roman Catholic Church.
On a usually chilly and rainy March

Vatican II Catholics who have felt
increasingly ignored and alienated
for a long time.

The new pope has also beguiled
many non – Catholics, as well
as mass the media that is often
cynical about religion and its
representatives. after the weariness
that has enveloped the entire
church over the past few years,
the 76 year old – “ Francis of Rome”

occasion by his predecessors, he
was dressed only in the white papal
cassock with a pewter pectoral
cross around his neck. he did not
gesticulate with outstretched
hands as almost all previous popes
had done. Instead he asked the tens
of thousands of people gathered
in the square below to “pray over”
him silently before he gave his first
Urbi et Orbi blessing to the city and

evening during Lent, Catholics
around the world were stunned by
the historic announcement that a
jesuit from argentina – jorge Mario
Bergoglio – had just been elected
Pope. The former archbishop of
Buenos aires chose to call himself
“Francesco”, taking the name of
the radical and universally popular
mystic- saint from assisi. amazing
as it sounds, he was the first pope
ever to do so.

In the week since his election,
Pope Francis has demonstrated
simplicity of style – in both words and
gestures – that stands in refreshing
contrast to the cultivated elegance
that characterized the pontificate
of Benedict XVI. although highly
cultured, his common man’s touch
has stirred up the hopes of many
believers, especially those so called

has appeared on the scene in a
similar way to that of the elderly
john XXIII more than half a century
ago. People are saying that Papa
Francesco, like Papa Giovanni, has
thrown open the windows of the
church to let in some fresh air.

“During these days we have felt
the wind of Pentecost shake our
souls!” exclaimed Cardinal angelo
Comastri, Vicar of Vatican City,
during a Mass last Sunday with the
new Pope. “We are rediscovering
the simplicity and the fervor of the
early beginnings of our faith,” he

That was immediately evident
when Pope Francis stepped on the
balcony of St Peter’s Basillica on the
evening of his election. Shunning
the red shoes and mozzetta
(shoulder cape) worn for the

the world. Many wept. Then with a
break with custom, he recited the
special blessing rather than sang it.

“The diocesan community of
Rome has its bishop,” he announced
in his unscripted first comments.
Never once( then or since) did he
refer himself as Pope or Pontiff.
“and now let us begin this journey:
Bishop and people – this journey
of the Church of Rome, which
presides in charity over all the
churches”, he said. he appeared to
stress further that point last Sunday
at his first angelus. although he
knows several languages, he spoke
at the noon time gathering only
in Italian. It was yet another break
with previous custom.

Given this emphasis on being
bishop of Rome, and judging by

Don Bosco Eastern Africa, May 2013

the handful of addresses and few
ceremonies he’s had, one might
deduce that the new Pope is
taking steps to purify the papacy
of its monarchial trappings and
court-like ambience. During the
transfers from the Vatican to the
Domus Sanctae Marthae residence
immediately after his election, for
example he refused to take the
papal limousine. Instead he rode
in the coach with other cardinals.
When he made an outing to Santa
Maria Maggiore a couple of days
later, he again declined to ride in
“his” luxury Mercedes and climbed
into a Volkswagen Passat driven by
Vatican gendarmes.

Of course, this is all symbolic.
Only as his pontificate unfolds
will we see how much substantial
reform he will undertake. an
encouraging sign came last week
when he temporarily reconfirmed
all the heads of major Vatican
offices, saying he wanted to take
more time for “reflection, prayer
and dialogue” before making any
permanent appointments. The
eventual appointment of a new
Secretary of State will be the first
indication of the direction in which
he hopes to move the Church.

Regarding the liturgy, it looks
like the days of Latin and Lace and
the obsession with ceremonial
accoutrements from the Tridentine
period have come to an abrupt
halt. Pope Francis is obviously
more comfortable with the “noble
simplicity” of the post-Vatican
II liturgy. at mass with cardinal
electors the day after his election,

he had the free – standing altar
returned to the Sistine Chapel and
celebrated “facing the people”
rather than ad orientem at the high

he also politely put aside the
homily in Latin that the Secretariat
of State had prepared for him
(which is an old tradition) and
spoke extemporaneously in Italian

– from the Lectern instead of from
the presider’s chair.
In fact he has never spoken “from
the throne” during a liturgy. and his
vestments have been tasteful and
contemporary. Even at the huge
Mass to inaugurate the ponitificate
he used a simple winter white mitre
and chasuble that he wore regularly
in Buenos aires.

“ah ,how I would like a church that
is poor and that is for the poor”, Pope
Francis confessed in an audience
last Saturday to journalists and
media professionals. That evidently
means a church that is humble and
respectful of
the beliefs of
others, too.
“Since many
of you do not
belong to
the Catholic
Church and
others are nonbelievers”,
new Pope said
at the end of
the audience,
I offer this
blessing in
silence, to

each one of you, respecting the
conscience of each person, but
knowing that each one of you
is a child of God.” although a
few catholic journalists seemed
confused (and even upset) that he
did not make the traditional sign
of the cross over the gathering, the
non-Catholics were moved by what
they perceived was his sensitivity
towards them.

Emphasizing the inexhaustible
mercy of God has emerged as an
early theme in his pontificate. his
Episcopal motto, which he has
kept as Pope, also emphasizes
God’s mercy - miserando atque
eligendo – “by showing mercy and
by choosing”.

The new Pope is also a
determined man and, though he
obviously enjoys the company of
others, he is something of a loner as
well. he doesn’t even have a private
secretary. and though his love and
concern for the poor is evident, and
his simple lifestyle is eloquent, he
has also been seen as a conservative
on many ecclesial issues. Of course
Good Pope john Paul was too. and
so the world must be patient with
Francis of Rome. It would be unwise
and unfair for people to place all
their hopes and aspirations for
church renewal and reform on the
shoulders of one poor man. as he
said last week, “Christ is the centre,
not the Successor of Peter”.

Robert Mickens


Rector Major’s Letter
to Pope Francis


On 19th March, at the Mass for
the beginning of Pope Francis’
Petrine Ministry, the Rector Major
had a letter delivered to the Pontiff.
herewith is the complete text.

your holiness, I am writing to
you on behalf of the Salesian
Congregation and the entire
Salesian Family to express
sentiments of tribute and our best
wishes at your election as Bishop
of Rome and Supreme Pontiff. I am

writing on this day of the solemn
inauguration of your Pontificate;
may it be an enduring one, replete
with all God’s blessings. We knew
that we had a great Pastor in
Benedict XVI, and we are now
grateful to the Lord for having
given us another great Pastor in his
Successor, in you, your holiness and
beloved Pope Francis.

as Christians and Salesian
Religious, it is our desire now

to express our joy at your
appointment. We renew our loyalty
and assure you of the filial respect
for you that we have inherited from
Don Bosco. he often expressed this
in words full of affection and faith
when speaking of Peter’s Successor.

“Whoever is united with the Pope
is united with Christ!” (MB VIII,567)
“We will be absolutely respectful
of the apostolic See in everything,
anywhere, any time, wherever
the Lord may call us” (MB XV,249).
“For me the Pope’s wish is a
command” (MB V,874) “his word
must be our rule in everything and
for everything” (MB VI,494)

Thus spoke our Founder Don
Bosco and this is how we feel in our
hearts today.

I would like to tell you, your
holiness, that immediately after
your election was announced I
spontaneously and joyfully recalled
the beautiful and unforgettable
experience of Church at aparecida,
in May 2007, where I had the grace
of knowing you and greeting you
personally. Together we took part
in the work there, the celebrations
and meetings at the 5th General

Don Bosco Eastern Africa, May 2013


Conference of the Latin american
and Caribbean Bishops; we met
again at the meeting of argentine
Bishops, which you presided at, so
we could establish the place and
arrangements for the Beatification
of the then Venerable Ceferino
Namuncurá. I will never forget your
words, full of esteem for the work of
our Salesian confreres in Patagonia,
and your intervention so that
Chimpay could be the place for the

I am well aware of your closeness
and affection for the Salesians,
especially at the almagro
community where Fr Enrique
Pozzoli, who was your spiritual
director, lived; and for Fr Lorenzo
Massa, founder of the San Lorenzo
Football Team. I was very much
appreciative of your testimony on
behalf of our Coadjutor Brother,
Blessed artemides Zatti, when
you were the jesuit Provincial,
and for your fatherly concern,
as archbishop of Buenos aires,
for our confreres. I have always
experienced much joy at your wellknown
devotion to Mary help of
Christians which so many of our
confreres recall.

From the moment of your
election and when you presented
yourself, we have been fascinated
by the name you took as Pontiff, a
name that picks up many of your
own characteristics and which
proclaims a programme of renewal
in the Church, returning it to its true
identity and to the Gospel through
simplicity, austerity, and keeping its
gaze fixed on the Lord jesus.

your holiness, we welcome and
make our own your wish to have
“the courage, yes the courage to
walk in the Lord’s presence, with his
Cross; to build the Church on the
blood of the Lord poured out on
the Cross and to confess his glory:
Christ Crucified. and so the Church
will move on ahead.”

In fidelity to the Church and our
Founder Don Bosco, we accept this
invitation of yours, your holiness,
and we promise that we will always
keep it present in our personal

lives, our pastoral choices and our
apostolic programmes.

We assure you of our prayers.
May the holy Spirit assist you in
the delicate task Providence has
entrusted to you and may the Virgin
Mary always be your help in your

along with this letter we are
sending you, as a sign of our
closeness, a statue of Mary help
of Christians. It would be a great
gift for us if we could present it to
you one 24th of May, in Turin in the

Basilica of Mary help of Christians,
which Don Bosco built with so
much love. Perhaps in 2015, when
we celebrate the second centenary
of his birth.

In a spirit of filial obedience,
today and always we assure you of
our devotion and affection.

Fr Pascual Chávez Villanueva
Rector Major of the Salesians of
Don Bosco


Unusual Facts About Pope Francis

The fact that Pope Francis has only
one lung is just one of 10 unusual
facts about Pope Francis. Besides
being a pope with one lung, Pope
Francis has washed and kissed the
feet of aids patients in a hospice,
has been trained as a chemist, and
has criticized priests who refuse
to baptize babies born to single
mothers, reported The Guardian on
March 13, 2013.

For many Catholics and non-
Catholics who are wondering
whether a pope with one lung will
have the strength and stamina to
deal with controversial topics like
sex scandals, Pope Francis’ life as a
child, teen, young man, and former
Cardinal jorge Bergoglio will speak
for itself.

1. Born as the son of an Italian railway
Pope Francis was born as jorge
Mario Bergoglio on Dec. 17, 1936,
in Buenos aires, argentina’s capital
city, to Italian immigrants Mario
josé Bergoglio, a railway worker,
and his wife, Regina María Sívori, a
housewife. Growing up among five
siblings with hard-working parents
gave Pope Francis the values

love, charity, humility, frugality,
the ability to connect with people,
compassion, and being down to
earth, Pope: One lung and 9 more
less-known, unusual facts about
Pope Francis

2. Losing one lung
When Pope Francis was a
teenager, he had a lung removed
as a result of a respiratory illness
and lung infection. according to
lung expert Dr. Zab Mosenifar from
Cedars Sinai Medical Center in
Los angeles, “Without seeing and
testing him, I would comfortably
say he functions at 85 to 90 percent
capacity of someone his age that has
both lungs and hasn’t taken such
good care of himself.” Dr. Mosenifar
also mentioned that Pope Francis
lost his lung most likely more than
fifty years ago when lung infections
were treated via surgical removal
instead of antibiotics.

3. A master’s degree in
after studying chemistry at the
University of Buenos aires, Pope
Francis received a master’s degree in
chemistry. according to a Catholic

liberal arts in Santiago, Chile, and in
1960 earned a degree in philosophy
from the Catholic University of
Buenos aires. Between 1964 and
1965 he was a teacher of literature
and psychology at Inmaculada high
school in the province of Santa Fe,
and in 1966 he taught the same
courses at the prestigious Colegio
del Salvador in Buenos aires.”

4. The Road Less Traveled
Pope Francis entered the Society
of jesus on March 11, 1958, but
was not ordained priest until Dec.
13, 1969, because of his years of
studies and pursuit of a variety of
interests in philosophy, literature,
and teaching. he was already 32.
Despite his late start, however,
Pope Francis was leading the local
jesuit community within four years,
holding the top post from 1973 to
1979. Pope Francis’ life and focus as
a jesuit and as a unique individual
continued despite being promoted
to higher positions.

Even after Pope Francis was
appointed auxiliary bishop of
Buenos aires, he remained humble
and spent his time caring for the
Catholic university, counseling

which define him today; family, herald report, Pope Francis “studied priests and preaching and hearing

Don Bosco Eastern Africa, May 2013


confessions; tasks that are not
usually performed by “superiors.”

“On june 3, 1997, he was named
coadjutor archbishop. he was
installed as the new archbishop of
Buenos aires Feb. 28, 1998.”

5. Simple apartment, cooks
his own meal, rides the bus
Becoming the new archbishop
of Buenos aires in 1998 did not
change who Pope Francis was as
an individual. he rode the bus,
visited the poor, lived in a simple
apartment, and cooked his own

Even in Rome, Pope Francis did
not live in the archbishop palace
but lived in an apartment where he
continued to cook his own meals.
Besides his low-key lifestyle, Pope
Francis was part of a larger social
entity by creating new parishes,
restructuring administrative offices,
and starting new pastoral programs
such as a commission for divorcees.

6. The defender of the family
who “washed and kissed the
feet of Aids patients”
Pope Francis is the author of
books about spirituality and
meditation and is the co-author of
the book “Sobre el Cielo y la Tierra”
(On heaven and Earth) which is
available on Kindle. While he is an
outspoken person as a defender of
the family and is against abortion
and same-sex marriages, he is
also the same human being who,
in 2001, “washed and kissed the
feet of aids patients in a hospice”
according to the Guardian.

7. Condoms “can be
Unlike many officials in the
Catholic church, Pope Francis
believes that condoms “can be
permissible” to prevent infection.
also unlike many other church
members, Pope Francis has never
lost his connection with ordinary
people. On March 13, 2013, CBS
New york wrote that, “he’s lived
those 76 turbulent years on little
buses and bikes and convents, in

dusty lanes all across Latin america.
… Bergoglio often rode the bus
to work and regularly visited the
slums that ring argentina’s capital.
he considers social outreach, rather
than doctrinal battles, to be the
essential business of the Church.”

8. Pope Francis practices
what he preaches
Talking about “social outreach” is
easy, practicing “social outreach,”
however, is part of the essence of
Pope Francis from childhood until
now. according to The Economist,
Pope Francis told his fellow
argentinians “not to waste their
money on plane tickets to Rome to
see him created a cardinal by john
Paul II in 2001, urging them to give
it instead to the poor.”

9. The heart makes a man,
not his clothes
When Pope Francis came out
onto the balcony on Wednesday
as new Pope Francis, he came out
in a white cassock instead of the
traditional red cape and papal stoll.
“he even chose to wear his own,
simple cross — devoid of diamond
and jewels — as he stood on the
balcony taking in the incredible
scene below.”

10. Expect the unexpected
Even though Pope Francis was
believed to have been the runnerup
in the last papal conclave in
2005 that elected Pope Benedict
XVI, hardly anybody expected Pope
Francis to become the new pope
in 2013. Not only becauseof Pope
Francis’ age or because of his jesuit
background but also because of his
“association with priests involved
in liberation theology, a movement
previously frowned upon by the

Expecting the unexpected
appears to be a major theme in
Pope Francis’ life. Who would have
expected that a child from a railroad
working family in argentina who
did not become a priest until he
was 32 would become the leader
of the Catholic church at the age of

Pope Francis faces many
challenges as the leader of the
Catholic church. however, if
anybody can bring upon much
needed change, it is – unexpectedly

– a pope with one lung.

The Salesian’s Filial Loyalty to
Peter’s Successor


Don Bosco showed filial loyalty
to the Pope. This profound attitude
is still alive today in the religious,
consecrated and lay people who
continue his charism and apostolic
commitment to the Church and
society. It is an attitude that is now
renewed with the election of Pope

In the first article of Chapter 6
of the Italian edition of the 1875
Constitutions, Don Bosco wrote: I
soci riconosceranno per loro arbitro
e superiore assoluto il Sommo
Pontefice, cui saranno in ogni cosa,
in ogni luogo e in ogni tempo
umilmente e rispettosamente
sottomessi or, “The members will
recognise the Supreme
as their absolute judge
superior. They will respectfully and
humbly submit to him This is a
filial obedience, full of love and an
obedience Don Bosco himself gave
example of.

In the Salesian
renewed in 1984, there are two
articles which make
reference to the successor of Peter:
articles 13 and 125. “The Salesian
Family Charter” also picks up the
same direction and is pervaded by
the filial loyalty to the Pope that
characterised Don Bosco.

Awareness of being

article 13 in the first
part of the Constitutions
describes a profile of
the Salesian religious

– it describes, as a basic
attitude, the ecclesial
identity of Salesian spirit and
pastoral charity expressed in a
renewed “ecclesial awareness”, of
loyalty to the Pope, communion
with the bishops and commitment
to building up the local Church. The
article says that the Salesian loves
the Church, works for its growth,
educates the young to love it. The
reason for this love is based on the
fact that the Church was willed and
loved by Christ.

Filial loyalty to the Successor of
Peter is a Salesian characteristic.
Don Bosco’s life and tradition attest
to that. “When the Pope expresses a
wish in our regard, this is a command
for us”, “I feel really indignant”, he
wrote on one occasion, “at the scant
regard certain writers have for the
Pope... we have to cluster tightly
around him...”, the “fundamental
purpose of the Congregation,
right from the beginning, was to
continuously support and defend
the authority of the Supreme head
of the Church in the less well-to-do
classes of society and especially

youth at risk”. These are but some
of the lines that indicate Don
Bosco’s complete
dedication to
the Church
and the
Congregation. It describes Salesian
attitudes of filial loyalty to the
Supreme Pontiff.
availability for the good of the
Universal Church of which the Successor
of Peter is the visible sign of unity.
Docility to the pontifical
magisterium that guides and
animates every activity of the
Salesian educator and evangeliser;
Commitment to helping the
faithful, especially the
young, in accepting
the Pope’s
For the Popes that he knew, Don
Bosco was an extremely attentive
servant. The Salesian loves the
Pope and does not hide his love for
him. he knows how to propose this
love to the young and help them to
be attentive to his teaching, in the
certain knowledge that he is giving
them a sure reference point in their
search for truth.

The Supreme Pontiff is the
highest superior of the
Salesian Society

article 125 in the fourth part of
the Constitutions about the service
of authority, recognises the Pope
as the highest superior of the

Don Bosco Eastern Africa, May 2013

Continuation from the previous issue
Continuation from the previous issue

Don Bosco Eastern Africa, May 201317A DREAM
The Story of Don Bosco
Don Bosco Eastern Africa, May 2013 17Don Bosco Eastern Africa, May 201317A DREAM
The Story of Don Bosco
Don Bosco Eastern Africa, May 2013 17

Pope Francis’ Coat of Arms
and Motto


On the 18th March 2013, the vigil
of the Mass at which Pope Francis
began his Petrine ministry, the
Vatican Press Office presented his
Coat of arms and the motto he has
chosen from St Bede “miserando
atque eligendo”.

The Shield

Pope Francis has decided to keep
the essential elements of his earlier
coat of arms, chosen at the time
of his episcopal consecration and
essentially a simple one.

The blue shield is surmounted by
the symbols of pontifical dignity,
the same as the one used by his
predecessor, Benedict XVI (mitre
and between keys in gold and
silver, with a red cord). Standing out
above is the emblem of the Pope’s
Order, the jesuits or Company of
jesus: a flaming sun with letters in
red, IhS, monogram of Christ. The
letter h includes a cross; this has
three nails in black immediately
below it.

Below is a star and a grape-like
plant (nardo). The star, according
to ancient heraldic tradition,
represents the Virgin Mary, mother
of Christ and the Church; the other
plant, which flowers like a lily,
represents St joseph, patron of
the Universal Church. In Spanish
iconographic tradition, St joseph

carries what looks like a lily in his
hands. By including these images on
his shield, the Pope has understood
how best to display his devotion to
Our Lady and to St joseph.

The Motto

The holy Father, Francis’ motto
comes from a homily by the
Venerable Bede, a priest (Om. 21;
CCL 122, 149-151), commenting on
the Gospel passage of St Matthew’s
call, where he writes “Vidit ergo
lesus publicanum et quia miserando

atque eligendo vidit, ait illi Sequere
me” (jesus saw a publican, looked
upon him with love and feeling and
said to him: follow me).

The homily is a tribute to Divine
Mercy and can be found in the
Liturgy of the hours for St Matthew’s
feast day. It takes on a special role in
the spiritual life of the Pope. It was
on St Matthew’s Feast in 1953, that
the young jorge Mario Bergoglio
experienced, when he was but 17,
the special loving presence of God
in his life. Following confession,
he felt his heart touched by God’s
mercy, and that God was looking
at him lovingly, calling him to
religious life, following the example
of St Ignatius of Loyola.

When chosen as a Bishop,
Bishop Bergoglio recalled this
moment of the beginning of his
special consecration in the Church
and decided to choose St Bede’s
expression as his motto and
programme for life: “miserando
atque eligendo” (he showed mercy
on him and called him), which is
now in the Papal Coat of arms.



Message from the Superior
General of the Daughters of Mary
Help of Christians to the


Holy Father

Expressing the joy of the entire
Institute at the election of the
new Bishop of Rome, Mother
yvonne Reungoat, Superior
General of the Daughters of Mary
help of Christians sent a message
welcoming Pope Francis.

Your Holiness

We come to you with great joy to
express our warmest wishes for the
mission you have been called to by
the will of the Cardinals who took
part in the Conclave: Supreme Pontiff
of the Catholic Church and Bishop of

We are at the forefront in praying for
the Pope and his high responsibilities,
also because of the love for Peter’s
Successor that our Founder and
Father, Saint John Bosco, passed on
to the Salesian Family. Now that we
can think of a Pope with a name and
a face, our prayer is ever more keen.

The barque of Peter has a new
Helmsman who has taken on the
spiritual legacy of Benedict XVI, and

will guide the Church in our time,
full of challenges but also full of
opportunities and signs of hope.

In the name of all the Daughters
of Mary Help of Christians across
the five continents, I express our filial
loyalty to your Magisterium as Pastor
and Father of the Universal Church.

We wish to express our fidelity
to the Pope also through a more
authentic religious life, a life loyal to
the Gospel and the Salesian charism:

these are sources that enliven it and
give it vocational fruitfulness.

Along with the entire Church we
express our commitment to New
Evangelisation through the education
of the youthful generations, by
explicitly proclaiming Jesus.

We are convinced that only if we
are his passionate disciples can we
be missionaries of his love, knowing
how to pass on, through our lives, the
fascination of his presence that fills
human existence with meaning, joy
and peace.

We join you, Your Holiness, in
greeting the Virgin with whom you
intend to begin your Pontificate. May
Mary Help of Christians continue to
bless your life and make your new
mission fruitful.

We offer our prayer, that in this Year
of Faith you enlightened guidance
may lead humanity to encounter

Sister Yvonne Reungoat, FMA

Don Bosco Eastern Africa, May 2013

A Few of the Pope’s Favourite Things

here are a few of Pope Francis’
favourite things, which he revealed
in a series of interviews granted
while he was archbishop of Buenos

The interviews are in the book,
Pope Francis: Conversations with
Jorge Bergoglio by Sergio Rubin and
Francesca Ambrogetti, which was
originally published in 2010 under
the title El jesuita (The jesuit). It is
not yet available in English.

Favourite sports: When he was
young, the future Pope played
basketball, but he loved going
to the stadium to watch soccer
with his whole family to see their
favourite team, San Lorenzo. he
lamented that the fan scene is not
what it used to be. at the worst,
“people would yell at the referee
that he was a bum, a scoundrel, a
sellout ... nothing in comparison
to the epithets they use today,” he

Favourite city: “I love where I
live. I love Buenos aires.” he has
travelled in Latin america and parts
of Europe, including Ireland “to
improve my English.” however, he
said, “I always try to avoid travelling
... because I’m a homebody” and
got homesick easily.

Favourite way to stay informed:
Newspapers. he said he turned on
the radio only to listen to classical
music. he had thought he’d
probably start using the Internet
like his predecessor, the late-
Cardinal juan Carlos aramburu
of Buenos aires, did — “when he
retired at 75.”

Favourite mode of transport as
Cardinal archbishop of Buenos
aires: The subway, which he would
always take to get around “because
it’s fast; but if I can, I prefer the bus
because that way I can look outside.”

Favourite pastime: as a boy, he
liked to collect stamps. Today, “I
really like reading and listening to

Favourite authors and books:
“I adore poetry by (Friedrich)
holderlin,” a 19th-century lyric

poet; alessandro Manzoni’s The
Betrothed (I Promessi Sposi),
which he said he has read at least
four times; Dante alighieri’s The
Divine Comedy; and anything by
Fyodor Dostoevsky and argentine
writer jorge Luis Borges. The Pope
recalled that even though Borges
was an agnostic, “he’d recite the
‘Our Father’ every evening because
he had promised his mother he
would, and died with a sense of
‘religious comfort.’ ”

Favourite music: “Leonore”
Overture No. 3 by Ludwig van
Beethoven conducted by the late-
Wilhelm Furtwangler, “who, in my
opinion, is the best conductor of
some of (Beethoven’s) symphonies
and works by Wagner.”

Favourite dance style: tango,
which he said he loves “very much.
It’s something that comes from
within.” he said he danced the
tango when he was young “even
though I preferred the milonga,”
which is an older form of tango
with a faster rhythm.

Favourite painting: The White
Crucifixion by Marc Chagall. The
scene “isn’t cruel, rather it’s full of
hope. It shows pain full of serenity.
I think it’s one of the most beautiful
things Chagall ever painted.”

Favourite person: his
grandmother Rosa, who helped
raise him when he was little, taught
him his first words of Italian and
passed on her deep religious

Favourite saint he turns to in time
of need: St. Therese of Lisieux. he
kept a photo of her on his library
shelf with a vase of white roses in
front of it. “When I have a problem
I ask the saint, not to solve it, but
to take it in her hands and help me
accept it.”

Favourite virtue: “The virtue of
love, to make room for others with a
gentle approach. Meekness entices
me enormously! I always ask God to
grant me a meek heart,” he said.

Worst vice to avoid: “The sin that
repulses me most is pride” and

thinking of oneself as a big shot. he
said when it has happened to him, “I
have felt great embarrassment and
I ask God for forgiveness because
nobody has the right to behave like

Typical reaction to unexpected
announcements: he freezes. When
Pope Francis was elected Pope and
appeared at the central balcony,
many noticed he looked rather stiff.
Turns out that’s how he reacted
when he was named auxiliary
bishop in 1992 and how he reacts
“to anything unexpected, good or
bad, it’s like I’m paralyzed,” he said.

Things he would rescue in event of
a fire: his breviary and appointment
book, which also contains all of his
contacts, addresses and telephone
numbers. “It would be a real disaster
to lose them.”

“I’m very attached to my breviary;
it’s the first thing I open in the
morning and the last thing I close
when I go to sleep.”

he also keeps tucked safe between
its pages his grandmother’s letters
and her last words to her grandkids
before she died. She said that in
times of sadness, trouble or loss, to
look to the tabernacle, “where the
greatest and noblest martyr is kept,”
and to Mary at the foot of the cross
so that they may “let fall a drop of
salve on the deepest and most
painful wounds.”



“Thank You For Everything”


The story is told about a woman
Zen master named Sono who
taught one very simple method
of enlightenment. She advised
everyone who came to her to adopt
an affirmation to be said many
times a day, under all conditions.
The affirmation was, “Thank you
for everything. I have no complaint

Many people from all areas of life
came to Sono for healing. Some
were emotionally distraught; others
had financial troubles; some were
seeking soul liberation. No matter
what their distress or what question
they asked her, her response was the
same: “Thank you for everything. I
have complaint whatsoever”. Some
people went away disappointed;
others grew angry; others tried to

argue with her. yet some people
took her suggestion to heart and
began to practice it. Tradition
tells that everyone who practiced
Sono’s affirmation found peace and

after reading this particular story,
a kind of curiosity came to me. I
began to say this affirmation many
times a day. In the beginning I did it
with curiosity but later it began to
change my attitude. yes, why do I
complain at all? all what I am, is the
gift of God and all what happens
on my way comes from God. So
now I began to say this affirmation
from the heart, “Thank you for
everything. I have no complaint

To my surprise, after a month
on May 2nd 2011at 11pm, I got a

message in my phone “kindly call
me back”. Usually no phone calls
come in that particular place where
I was working because it was an
interior village.

Next day morning I called back
the person who sent the message
and it was my Superior General.
I was surprised again. She told
me that she is going to ask me an
important question and to listen
to her carefully. I got worried. Then
she asked me “are you ready to
go to Sudan as a missionary?” She
needed an answer in the evening. I
kept down the phone. It was a very
difficult situation but I remember,
I said the same affirmation “Thank
you for everything. I have no
complaint whatsoever”. It was
rather difficult to give an answer

The highest form of prayer is gratitude. Instead of asking God
for things, start thanking God for the things and we will find that
God has already given us everything that we need.

Don Bosco Eas
Don Bosco EasDon Bosco East
erern Afr
n Afrn Africa, Ma
ica, Maica, May 20
y 20y 201


but to my surprise again something
prompted me and I called the
Superior General and told her that
I will go. and now I am in South
Sudan having completed one year.

yes, can you imagine what our
life would be like if we simply
dropped our complaints. It’s a
radical proposal, since most of us
have been trained to question,
analyse and criticize everything
we see. But then sometimes we
end up questioning, analysing and
criticizing ourselves. Then we miss
out the joy, the only true measure
of success. But sometimes what
happens to us is that there is a voice
inside us objecting, “But if I did not
complain, people would walk all
over me”. It is only our feeling. I am
simply suggesting that we practice
this affirmation for an entire
thanksgiving Day. and then may
be once a week. Then we might
start to feel so good and our lives
will become so effective that we
would want to turn every day in to
a Thanksgiving. I know it is always
very easy to preach but to practice
this in our own lives is difficult
especially when we go through
difficulties and problems. I have
experienced it in my life. On 5th
of October I was arrested and was
in prison for 3 hours. It was a false
accusation. Then onwards there

were lots of problems connected
to it. It was not easy to thank God
for that experience. But later I said
thank you for everything. I have no
complaint whatsoever. I could feel
the difference in my attitude and
I was able to forgive the persons
who were behind this problem

The highest form of prayer is
gratitude. Instead of asking God for
things, start thanking God for the
things and we will find that God
has already given us everything

that we need. Life is a big treasure
hunt. Eventually we grow weary of
seeking treasures outside ourselves,
and we begin to look within. There
we discover that the gold we
sought, we already are. yes, let us
begin to drop our complaints and
thank God for everything. “Thank
you for everything. I have no
complaint whatsoever”.

Sr. Shanty Antony MSMHC (Don
Bosco Mission , Tonj)

2ND QUARTER22Pope Francis, Sports Aficionado and
Devoted to Mary Help of Christians
While the entire world is looking for more information on the newly
elected Pope, we offer one episode which shows his love for sport and,
especially, his devotion to Mary help of Christians.
In 2008, during a meeting, managers of San Lorenzo de almagro
football team gave the then Cardinal Bergoglio a San Lorenzo
guernsey and a Season ticket to the club as a “Centenary member”.
For the occasion he also received a letter from the team’s leadership
inviting him to celebrate Mass for the 100 years of San Lorenzo Team.
Cardinal Bergoglio recalled the extraordinary San Lorenzo team
which won the Championship in 1946, with players like Farro, Pontoni
and Martino. at the centenary celebration he said that at San Lorenzo
“we don’t take our colours from just anywhere, but we ask the Virgin”
and he also asked that “Mary help of Christians never be separated
from the Club because She is its mother, given that San Lorenzo began
at the St anthony’s Oratory, under the Virgin Mary’s protection”.

Journey to Holiness

holiness is readiness to share
with those who are in real need. It
is readiness to ask for forgiveness
when we do something wrong to
others and readiness to forgive
when someone does something
wrong to us. It is the ability to say
“no” when we ought to say “no” and
“yes” when we ought to say “yes”. It
is readiness to understand others
as we desire to be understood by
others. holiness is to work when we
work, to pray when we pray, to love
when we love. It is to be who we
are and where we are. It is to grow
where we are planted. It is to be
light in the darkness. It is to begin
from where we are.

Many people, especially my
youthful colleagues, prefer to do
what they do not do. We work while
eating; we drive while talking, we
study while listening to music,
pray while sleeping. Physically
we are here but mentally we are
there. Saint Paul says: “What I do, I
do not understand. For I do not do
what I want, but I do what I hate’’.
(Rom.7:15). Maybe it is because of
the worldly complications which
make us find it difficult to be
or do what is expected of us. In
any situation we can still grow in
holiness if we have really fallen in
love with what is good, if we ‘put
out into deep water’. The difficulties
and disappointments are there, but
we are always called to keep close
to Christ. Christ himself said ‘’I have
told you this so that you might have
peace in me. In the world you will
have trouble, but take courage, I
have conquered the world’’.

Who is perfect among us? No one
is perfect except God. Therefore we
are all imperfect, though in different
ways. But this does not mean that
we cannot be holy, because Christ
himself, who is our model, tells us:
‘’be perfect as your father in heaven
is perfect’’ (Mt 9:50). Is he calling us
to impossible things? I do not think
so. I think he is calling us (God’s

children) to be like God who is our
father. St. augustine says; ’’My heart
is restless, O Lord, until it rests in

It is important to know that
holiness of life is the journey of a
life time. however we are, whatever
way we are living or what we
have is just an integral part of the
whole of holiness. Each meal is
enjoyable in itself at the moment
without waiting for the next one.
Likewise every step you make in
your journey to town is complete in
itself at the moment, is unique and
can only reach where it was meant
to reach, though you have not
reached town yet. For one to be full
when eating one has to take several
spoons of food, but each spoon is
worthwhile in itself at the moment
and contributes to being satisfied
at the end. I also think that for one
to live the whole holiness, or attain
the whole holiness, it depends on
how one lives each integral part of
the whole holiness. I am not talking
about one to be perfect in whatever
one thinks or does daily, but adding

It is important to know that holiness of
life is the journey of a life time. However we
are, whatever way we are living or what we
have is just an integral part of the whole of

something good to whatever one
thinks and does daily, since holiness
is something to be lived and not
something to be acquired, studied
or archived. Don Bosco told his
boys that holiness consists in doing
ordinary things in an extraordinary
way. We also can grow in holiness
if we really believe that God is at
work through the ordinary good
things which we think and do daily.
We are all unholy but we are neither
called nor destined to be unholy.
Therefore for us to reach holiness it
all depends on how much effort we
make to minimize the space of the
unholy and maximize the space of

holiness is not a conquest made
once for all but a life journey with
its ups and downs or hidden and
exposed moments in our life time.
Life in holiness is like Christ’s journey
to Calvary which was characterized
by falling and rising and each time
he fell and rose the closer he was
to Calvary. Therefore, being a life
time journey, we do not talk about
reaching the peak of holiness while

Don Bosco Eastern Africa, May 2013

we are alive but growing closer and
closer to holiness while we are alive.

We can say that we are growing
in holiness when we use our mind
to think what is good, when we
use our hands to do what is good,
when we use our eyes to see what
is good, when we use our mouths
to speak what is good, and when
we open our hearts to love what is
good. Fr. Peter Ricaldone said that
holiness is to think well of all, to
speak well of all, and to do good to
all. For us to reach our strength we
need to go beyond our weakness.
Many people would like to be
holy but they do not like to focus

on what is beyond the unholy. We
forget that whenever we choose
there are things to take and things
to leave. a student who wants to
be a scientist is advised to focus
and work hard on science subjects
rather than arts subjects. Therefore
I also believe that for us to be holy
we need to focus all our attention
and effort on what is holy.

Novice Fabian Mallya John

2ND QUARTER24Talk the Walk and
Walk the Talk.
I have been wondering why do
we study, analyze and recommend
yet we never put them into action
to yield favorable results. It’s with
sincerity that I have learnt; an idea
no matter how wonderful and life
changing it might be, will remain
just a thought until acted on.
It’s been noted that cemeteries
are full of original and marvelous,
life improving thoughts, which
never saw the light of the day.
If one does the same thing,
the same way and expects a
different result, then this can be
considered as measure of insanity.
however, with current exposure
to technological advancements
especially in communication, it has
elicited excitement and many have
turned retardant and unproductive.
For instance, essay writing in
schools are full of grammatical
errors yet the older folks strived
in this area despite challenges.
Meanwhile, many people have
seemingly fabulous ideas on
paper but these are gathering
dust on shelves. however, when
these original ideas gain access
to determined people, they act as
tickets to fly over into suburbs from
slums both economically, socially
and spiritually.
It’s worth noting that Christian
teachings demonstrate the need to
co-exist as parts of the same body,
living in peace, love and unity. The
question that arises therefore is, why
does a vice such as theft, murder,
suicidal tendencies, hopelessness,
cut throat competitions and
selfishness, strike us and our
siblings? Consequently, greed,
corruptions and individualistic
attitude had been blamed. Did
you know that more than 75% of
Kenya’s and East africa’s and world’s
populace is Christian?
If all Christians simply loved each
other and embraced a brothers’
keeper approach, can we not
eliminate these vices for good and
live a simple, serene, selfless yet
happier life?
While listening to God’s minister
recently, an enormous challenge
was posed to us, the attendees:
whereas everyone is in the political
campaign mood and praying for a
peaceful- violence free- election
process, what am I doing to grow
peace in my own life, my family and
eventually my country?
Therefore, it seems easier to
point fingers, put marvelous
recommendations on paper but
the real enemy lives within you.
The positive change you would
like to experience starts with
you on a single, decisive step
put into action, for the greater
good of mankind tomorrow.
I do not want to be a product of
my environment but rather, my
environment to be a product of me.
has it ever crossed your mind that
the present would not have been as
it is, were it not for our fore-fathers’
selfless actions at their own level?
Finally, let’s not only think, talk
and write way forwards on issues
but in addition, put an action- step
to its realization. Paul (converted
Saul), witnesses to us that faith as
small as a mustard seed, can move
a mountain yet without action, it is


Fr. Benn Agunga

Fr. Benn agunga son of the late
Charles Basil agunga and Caren
Veronica was born in a family
of eight. Two brothers; alfred
(agunga and Company, Malindi),
Collins agunga (Mt. Kenya
University, Mombasa), and five
sisters that is, Roseline agunga
(Kenya Methodist University,
Mombasa), Eliza agunga
(Kilifi,Kenya), Celestine agunga
(Kenyatta University, Mombasa)
and Brenda agunga (Nairobi
University, Mombasa).

Fr. Benn skipped nursery
school and started his primary
education at Kileleshwa Primary
School, Nairobi joining Standard
One in the year 1987. In 1991,

he moved to St. Lazarus Primary
School where he sat for his K.C.P.E.

having admired the priesthood
vocation and through the advice
of his late mum Veronica, Fr. Benn
went for an interview in the year
1995 with an intention of joining a
minor seminary. In the year 1996,
Fr. Benn was admitted in Form One

at St. Gabriel’s Minor Seminary.
having successfully completed
his KCSE in 1999, Fr. Ben decided
to pursue his priestly vocation
in the Salesian Congregation. In
2001, he attended the “come and
See” vocation camp organized
by Fr. George Kocholickal, SDB at
Don Bosco yES, Karen (where he
is currently assigned). He officially
started his aspirancy and Pre-
Novitiate formation at Bosco Boys,
Kuwinda. In 2003 Fr. Benn went for
his Novitiate in Don Bosco, Moshi
Tanzania. In the year 2004, Fr. Benn

his Bachelor Degree in
Philosophy and Education in Don
Bosco College, Moshi, Tanzania. he
graduated at the Catholic University
of Eastern africa in 2007.

Fr. Benn then later went for

Practical Training (Pastoral
School, Shinyanga, Tanzania until
the year 2009. In august 2009, he
started his Theological Formation
at Don Bosco Utume, Nairobi. he
pursued his Bachelor Degree in
Theology at Tangaza University

College affiliated to Catholic
University of Eastern africa (CUEa).
During that period, Fr. Benn was
ordained a Deacon at Don Bosco
Upperhill, Nairobi on 12th May
2012. he successfully completed
his Theological studies in january

Benn was ordained a Catholic
priest on 25th april 2013 at
Tumsifu Centre, Milimani, Kisumu
by his Grace, Zaccheus Okoth, the
archbishop of the arch diocese of

Fr. Benn is a fan of sports
especially volleyball, debate, drama,
teaching(education), journalism,
a good organizer and above all he
loves politics having been brought
up in a political background. If you
happen to ask Fr. Benn what he
would have been if he was not a
priest, he would cheerfully tell you
“I would have been a lawyer or a
media personnel.

Congrats Fr. Benn and above all
ThE aGUNGa”S Family for giving us
a priest.

Don Bosco Eastern Africa, May 2013began
Don Bosco Eastern Africa, May 2013

Mary Help Of Christians


The title of Mary help of Christians
is associated with the defense
of Christian Europe (Latin and
Greek), North africa and the Middle
East from non-Christian peoples
during the Middle ages. In 1572
the Ottoman Empire intended to
invade Christian Europe. Pope Pius V
called Christian armies from all over
Europe to defend the continent
and asked believers to pray to Mary
in order to help the Christians. The
defeat of the Muslim Turks was

goes back to 1571, when the
whole of Christendom was saved
by Mary help of Christians when
Catholics throughout Europe
prayed the Rosary. The great battle
of Lepanto occurred on October
7th 1571. For this reason this date
has been chosen as the feast of the
holy Rosary. In 1573 Pope Pius V
instituted the feast in thanksgiving
for the decisive victory of
Christianity over Islamism.

Near the end of the 17th century,
Emperor Leopold I of austria took
refuge in the Shrine of Mary help of
Christians at Pasau, when 200,000

Ottoman Turks besieged the capital
city of Vienna, but a great victory
occurred thanks to Mary help of
Christians: on September 8th, Feast
of Our Lady’s Birthday, plans were
drawn for the battle. On September
12, Feast of the holy Name of Mary,
Vienna was finally freed through
the intercession of Mary help of
Christians. all Europe had joined
with the Emperor crying out “Mary,
help!” and praying the holy rosary.

In 1809, Napoleon’s men entered
the Vatican, arrested Pius

VII and brought him in chains
to Grenoble, and eventually
Fontainebleau. his imprisonment
lasted five years. The holy Father
vowed to God that, if he were
restored to the Roman See, he
would institute a special feast in
honor of Mary. Military reverses
forced Napoleon to release the
Pope, and on May 24th 1814, Pius
VII returned in triumph to Rome.
Twelve months later, the Pope
decreed that the feast of Mary help
of Christians, be kept on the 24th of


Don Bosco’s personal devotion
to Mary transcended all titles,
both the traditional historical titles
and titles tied to local popular
shrines. It was solidly founded on
the Church’s traditional Mariology
(Mother of God/Christ, Theotokos)
and on traditional popular
devotion as simply Our Lady (the
Madonna). his devotion to Mary
under particular titles, including
Immaculate Conception and help
of Christians, appears as an aspect

that precipitated his interest and
use of the term. archbishop arnaldi
of Spoleto officially bestowed the
title Auxilium Christianorum on the
apparition. Don Bosco’s narration
of his dream of the Two Columns
(May 30 1862) seems clearly
connected with the event - one
of this, along the columns bears
the inscription ‘help of Christians’.
With Spoleto, was tied to political,
revolutionary and anticlerical
events in Italy. In 1868 Don Bosco
indicated that there was “a very
special reason why the Church in
recent times wished to invoke Mary
as help of Christians”.

attributed to the intercession of
Mary under such title.
Geographical /Regional
Given the specific
reference to
‘Christians’, and
given also the
familiar reference
to the briefer
‘ausiliatrice’ in
other European
languages, many
Salesians in
countries where
Christianity is in a
minority, or where
there might be other
particular difficulties,
refer to ‘Mary our help’
or something similar.
The Feast of Mary help of
Christians is celebrated on May
24. The tradition of this advocation
of his perception of Mary’s basic
presence in the church.
however, his devotion to
and use of the term ‘help
of Christians’ came later -
after 1860. Neither in his
history of the Church
(1st ed. 1845) nor in
his history of Italy (1st
ed. 1866/6) is there
any mention of the
help of Christians.
The inscription on
the frieze inside
the great church he
saw in his dream in
1844 read “hic domus
mea, inde gloria
mea”, not “auxilium
Christianorum”. Nor is the
title in the early editions
of the Companion of youth
(1st ed. 1847). It would seem
that it was the apparition and
miraculous events of Spoleto 1862

What was Saint John
Bosco’s dream about Maryand the Eucharist?
a: john Bosco, or known more
popularly by his Italian heritage,
Don Bosco, educator of youth and
founder of the Salesians, had a
dream in 1862 during which he
perceived that two pillars in the
storm tossed sea would anchor
the boat of Peter (the Church).
The tallest, strongest pillar was
the Eucharist and second was the
Blessed Virgin Mary. Don Bosco
taught that tranquility would not
return to the stormy seas until the
pope would succeed in anchoring
the Church between the pillars of
Eucharistic devotion and devotion
to Mary. Don Bosco described this
dream many times to his students,
and in a letter dated February 13,
1863 he wrote to Pope Pius IX about
the dream. The pillar surmounted
with the host had the inscription,
“The Salvation of Believers.” The
smaller pillar had a statue of Mary
at the top of its column and the
inscription, “help of Christians.”

Don Bosco fostered devotion to
Mary under the title, Mary help of
Christians (Auxilium Christianorum).
In 1863 he began the construction
of a large church he gave the name,
Church of Mary help of Christians.
It was completed in 1868. a
biographer wrote:

To make Mary loved, to make her
known in all her prerogatives, in all
her glories, in all the graces she has
conferred upon mankind and the
Church–to make Mary known, in
short, under the title of Mary help
of Christians, became Don Bosco’s
particular Marian mission. In Turin
itself the faithful were quick to refer
to Our Lady help of Christians as
“Don Bosco’s Madonna.”[Source:

Edna Beyer Phelan, Don Bosco,
A Spiritual Portrait, New york:
Doubleday, 1963, pp 244-5.]

Context (examples of use):

“When I submitted the plans for
the church for the city’s approval,
the superintendent rejected the
plans because of the title help of
Christians.’It’s too jesuitical’, he
complained.’But Sir,’ I explained,
‘perhaps in your line of work you
have not had occasion of looking
into the historical origin of this title.
It commemorates the victories won
by a coalition of Italian, Spanish
and others against the Turks....’”
(Barberis, autograph Chronicle,
june 26, 1875, Notebook II, 23-24,
FDB C1-2)

Don Bosco Eastern Africa, May 2013271ST QUARTER27Pope Francis and the Salesians
as the days pass, new episodes
and aspects of interest regarding
Pope Francis emerge. amongst
them, a number tied in with the
Salesian world. as well as his special
devotion to Mary help of Christians
– displayed every 24th of the month
at the Marian shrine at almagro
in Buenos aires – there are others.
The new Pope is also a Salesian past
In 1949 jorge Mario Bergolio
attended “Wilfrid Barón” Salesian
College in Ramos Mejía, along with
his brother. jorge was in class 6B.
From the list of prize-winners that
year we see he got the first prize for
conduct, religion and the Gospel.
a detailed biography published
by the argentine Daily “La Nación”,
also reports that the Pope, when he
was 17 had Fr Enrico Pozzoli as his
spiritual director, from the almagro
community. This priest, before
bringing Don Bosco’s charism to
Tierra del Fuego – the ends of the
world – left an indelible mark on
him. It was Fr Pozzoli who suggested
to the young Bergoglio to go to
the Tandil mountains to overcome
an attack of pneumonia; it was he
who helped the future Pope apply
for the seminary at Villa Devoto;
and Card. Bergoglio included a
reference to him in the preface
to his first book – Meditations for
Religious – referring to the “strong
impact” this Salesian had on his
life, and the “example of ecclesial
service and religious consecration”
he gave.
at Tandil, when he was 18 years,
Bergoglio met Roberto Musante,
two years older than him, who
he then met in more complex
circumstances later. Like when
Bergoglio, during the dictatorship,
took in three seminarians belonging
to Bishop Enrique angelelli.
at Tandil, Fr Musante recalls, the
two got to know each other and
talk, and Bergoglio “was rather
quiet and humble”. The two young
men then took different paths.
Today, Fr Musante, a Salesian, works
in angola where he looks after
hundreds of youngsters at Lixeira,
“rubbish dump” in Portuguese.
Bergoglio, instead, chose to follow
St Ignatius Loyola.
Don Bosco Eastern Africa, May 2013 27

From the FMA From the FMA
Rooted in Good Soil!!
VIDES Growth in the World


“We are small dwarfs on the
shoulders of two giants” these
words were said by our dear Mother
General Sr, yvonne Reungoat at the
10th international VIDES Convention
in Trevi- Italy. The two giants are
none other than St. john Bosco and
St.Mary Mazzarello. Before the term
Volunteering came, john Bosco and
Maria Mazzarello were doing it. Think
of the Typhoid outbreak in Mornese
and the big heart of Maria who went
to assist those who were suffering.
Think of Don Bosco even as a young
boy giving his time to teach the
other boys in the village to pray and
play well. In his time as a priest, the
boys in the oratory were launched
to volunteerism during the cholera
epidemic in Turin. Shielded by the
blessing of Mary help of Christians
the boys courageously and safely
assisted the sick. among the first
collaborators of Don Bosco were
many volunteers from all walks of life.

Today the same Spirit of
generosity is alive. year 2012 was so
significant to the VIDES Volunteers
in the world. It was the silver jubilee
of the association at the world
level. Following St. john Bosco and
St. Mary Mazzarello’s charism in
1987, Mother General, at that time
Mother Marinella Castagno, and the
General Council together with the

dynamic and entrepreneurial vision
of Sr. Maria Grazia Caputo, saw
VIDES born as a natural expression
of the FMa charism.

Since then, VIDES has expanded
its horizons and at the moment it is
present in 4 continents, 41 countries
and 53 Vides groups. VIDES Kenya is
one of the VIDES groups. In africa,
VIDES is in Kenya, Congo D.R.C and
now newly born Congo Brazzaville.

The celebration of 25 years
coincided with the 10th International
VIDES Congress. The main theme
was: Recall, Rejoice, Renew. It was
a time to recall the journey made in
the past 25 years, to rejoice for what
VIDES has done in the world and to
renew the commitment for the next
25 years and beyond. I had the chance
of participating in this great event
together with Bernard the VIDES
Kenya Chairman. It was an exciting
as well as rich experience as VIDES
International gathered together from
all the mentioned countries.

The presence of our Rector Major
Don Pascual Chavez and Mother
General Sr. yvonne Reungoat,
brought warmth and a clear
indication that VIDES is a welcomed
association in the Salesian Family
and there is no fear to venture
ahead with great hopes. VIDES
hopes must grow daily.

Mother General clearly confessed
that she was happily surprised
each time she heard the stories
of many Volunteers and the
great experiences they had in
Volunteering. These are not
extraordinary people, they are our
young people who became part of
VIDES and chose to go whether to a
place only next door or far away to
serve their fellow young. She sees a
great future in VIDES as a sure way
of new evangelization. VIDES is a
special gift to the FMa institute. She
kept on repeating these sentiments
the whole time she was with us.

The Rector Major Don Pascual
Chavez gave strength to what VIDES
has done since the beginning and
highlighting his proposed strenna
for 2013, said that VIDES is one great
channel in proposing a Gospel of
joy to the young. The volunteers
are doing it already and ought to
continue with renewed energy.

My wish is to see VIDES reaching
to all the other countries of africa
and the world at large since it came
at the right time. Long live VIDES!

Sr. Laurenzia FMA


Tallest ever statue of John Paul II
unveiled in Poland

Vatican City:

The world’s tallest statue of Pope john Paul II was
inaugurated today in Czestochowa, southern Poland.
The city of Czestochowa is a popular destination for
Catholic pilgrims who go there to pray before the
black Madonna painting.

“The statue weighs 10 tons and is 13,8 metres tall. It’s
bigger than the one in Chine which is 12 metres tall,”
Leszek Lyson, the man who funded the project and
owns a fun park on the outskirts of Czestochowa.

During the inauguration ceremony, the statue was
blessed by the archbishop of Czestochowa, Monsignor
Waclaw Depo. Paradoxically, the tallest statue of john
Paul II has been erected in a park which is also home
to some sacred architecture miniatures, including a
miniature of the Lourdes and Fatima shrines.

UCAN, India

Vatican holds Major Conference
on faith in Asia

asia’s rapid growth and increasing inequality is resulting in a weakening of spiritual life and posing a challenge
which asia’s many faiths could and should face together, Cardinal Fernando Filoni said at the end of a major
Vatican conference this week.

held at the Pontifical Urbaniana University which
trains priests from mission areas, the conference on
the asian Church and its future ended on Wednesday
with a call for all religions to face these challenges
together with a common sense of “authenticity” and

Cardinal Filoni said that while economic growth
had “increased the material means available” to
asians, this progress has not been followed with an
equal distribution of goods.

“Inhuman and scandalous forms of poverty and
exclusion [still exist],” he said.

affluence has also meant problems for spirituality
including immorality, lack of attention to human life
and suicides, added the cardinal.

In a strong statement on interfaith collaboration,
Cardinal Filoni said that dialogue between different
religions in asia had a “social and political color since

it is aimed at developing policies and strategies for the common good… promoting a culture of empathy and

The conference was aimed at drawing up a blueprint for Catholic missionary action in asia and included
representatives of faiths including hinduism, Islam and Buddhism as well as experts from Italy, the Vatican and
10 different countries in the asian region.


Don Bosco Eastern Africa, May 2013

The Future of the
Congregation Depends
on the Quality of
Formation: The Rector
Major’s New Letter

just as we were celebrating
Easter, the Rector Major gave the
Congregation a new circular letter.
“Vocation and formation: gift and
task”. It aims at illustrating the
beauty and the demands of the
Salesian vocation and formation,
and at the same time shows the
current situation of vocational
inconsistency. The letter is in two
basic parts.

Consistency and vocational

The Rector Major highlights
the need to help young confreres
achieve vocational consistency,
and help those who have already
made a definitive choice to live
their vocation faithfully. Weakness
of vocation is particularly evident
in the statistics which the Rector
Major wants to make known to the
entire Congregation so people can
be aware of the problems and then
help by taking on responsibility.

There are two complementary
aspects noted, basic causes of a
lack of consistency and fidelity:

a wrong idea of vocation; this
is sometimes identified with a
personal project motivated by the
need for self-realisation. Often
there are weak or insufficient
motivations for beginning the
journey in Salesian consecrated life,
and sometimes a lack of conscious
awareness; if motivations are
ignored, fragility or infidelity are
more likely to result.

The culture we live in presents
opportunities but also risks. an
anthropological understanding
is a resource, but also a challenge
for the vocational journey. There

is a need for authenticity, sense of
freedom, history, constant seeking
for experiences, appreciation
of relationships and affectivity,
difficulties in renouncing things
and remaining faithful – all these
in a postmodern and multicultural
context. These anthropological
aspects while challenging are
essential for a consecrated life
that desires to be fully human and
therefore credible.

Vocation formation

Vocation is the foundation for
the journey of formation and
formation is there to serve the full
development of vocation. They are
both gift and task.

Each individual›s life is a vocation;
therefore life is a response to God›s
call. Vocation is not principally a
human project but God›s plan for
each one: it is a plan to recognise,
accept and live. The discovery of
one›s vocation is at the origins of
realising our individual lives; it takes
a lifetime to live a vocation. It is a
call to a mission entrusted to us by
God; there is no vocation without
mission. This is why mission, with
vocation, gives form and content to

Formation is a constant process
of identification with the vocation
received. This is why the letter
presents the identity of the Salesian
consecrated vocation and its
formation approaches to ensure the
process of identification. acquiring
identity is the aim of formation.

Fr Chávez once again proposes,
as objectives, the fundamental
elements of Salesian vocational
identity: sent to the young (being

conformed to Christ the Good
Shepherd); brothers in a single
mission (common life as the
place and object of formation);
consecrated by God (witnessing
to the radical nature of the
Gospel); sharing of life and mission
(animating apostolic communities
in the spirit of Don Bosco); at the
heart of the Church (building it up);
being open to real circumstances to
realise the charism.

To ensure we acquire identity and
fostering the process of vocational
identity, the Rector Major reminds
us that the “Ratio” offers specific
approaches that we need to
adopt with more awareness and
commitment. It is a case of reaching
into the depths of the individual,
animating an experience, unity of
formation, ensuring a climate of
formation and everyone shared
responsibility, giving quality
formation to daily experience,
qualifying our accompaniment,
paying attention to discernment.

at the end of the letter the
Rector Major makes an appeal that
formation, initial and ongoing,
be an “absolutely vital priority in
the Congregation” and he turns to
Mary asking her to accompany us
as she did from the beginning and
throughout Salesian history.

The Rector Major›s Letter, no.
416, is, apart from the Strenna
2014 commentary to come, the
last thematic letter in Fr Chávez›

The complete text is available
online at



Don Bosco Eastern Africa, May 2013