In places where schools are on holidays, we have seen in recent weeks a real tsunami of young volunteers. Not a few discover or rediscover the meaning of their lives, and even their own vocation, through the Salesian missionary volunteer service. In fact Pope Francis states in his message for World Mission Sunday 2015: “I appeal in particular to young people, who are capable of courageous witness and generous deeds, even when these are countercultural: Do not allow others to rob you of the ideal of a true mission.” These are the young people Don Bosco dreams of today! Young people who are ready to lose everything to gain the best, that “one thing necessary” (Lk 10, 41). Educators of vast horizons plus generous young people: no doubt this is a winning formula. Indeed this is what Salesian youth volunteer service is all about!
Fr. Guillermo Basañes SDB
Councillor for the Missions
Salesian Life “Permanently in a State of Mission”
As a Congregation which goes forth in a Church without frontiers and whose doors are wide open (Evangelii Gaudium, 20-24, 46, 210), this missionary re-reading is synthesised in the need for every Salesian to rediscover the missionary dimension of his Salesian vocation in order to reach out to others, and above all towards new frontiers and existential peripheries [CG27,22]. This demands overcoming our ‘self-referentiality’and the lack of missionary boldness [CG27,2] which is seen in the feeling of fatigue, tension, fragmentation, inefficiency and burnout [CG27,27]. To this end, it is necessary to move from a life marked by a middle class lifestyle to one that is missionary and prophetic [CG27,74.1] and live our Salesian life permanently in a state of mission as disciple missionaries (Evangelii Gaudium, 24, 25). Here we recall the statement of St. John Paul II: “All renewal in the Church must have mission as its goal if it is not to fall prey to a kind of ecclesial introversion” (John Paul II, Ecclesia in Oceania, 19).
It is especially crucial that Salesians are helped to understand that today mission cannot be seen only in geographic or unidirectional terms. Mission is primarily the proclamation of Jesus Christ in three interpenetrating contexts, where either the mission ad gentes, ordinary pastoral activity or new evangelisation is required (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, 33-34).
In the light of Project Europe it is essential to help all Salesians to appreciate the multidirectional movement of missionaries from all continents to all continents as a concrete sign of the fruitfulness of the missio ad gentes (Benedict XVI, Africae Munus, 167). In this new context, the Sector for the Missions continues to play a role in ensuring, coordinating and guiding missionary options [CG27,43] on the new frontiers and in existential peripheries and in promoting the missionary projects of the Congregation [CG27,75.5]. Through this service it would become the “sentinel of the new frontiers” for the Congregation.
Missionary Re-reading of GC27 – PDF Document
I do not know how my missionary vocation was born, but I only noticed its simple and important signs in the simplicity of daily life that I tried to respond to. For example, the joy I felt in serving the Lord in the most needy; the beautiful witness of our missionaries in Albania and many others around the world. I was so inspired by the example of Mother Teresa, who went to quench the thirst of Christ amongst the poor and the needy. Another thing that has helped me so much in my vocation was also my missionary experience in Madagascar, where I realised the great need for missionaries who dedicate their lives to God by serving people who are in most need.
It is true that Albania is a mission land and we still need so many missionaries. In fact when I shared with my confreres and friends that I wanted “to go to the missions” they told me: “You are crazy! We have just started here in Albania and you want to go?!” I am the sixth Salesian Albanian and also the first to go to the missions and this seemed a bit strange, because certainly the needs are not lacking.
Yet I really believe that the poor must begin to help the poor! As Christians we cannot expect to solve first all our problems and then go and help others. Until now we have received many missionaries and I think it’s time to start giving something of ourselves to others who are more needy than us. My family taught me that if I see that something needs to done, I should not wait to be called by someone else, because it is the need that is calling me. So when I saw that there is a need of missionaries, I went!
As a missionary certainly I meet many difficulties, yet these are not unsurmountable. I say so because in reality there are difficulties, such as the language (in my case the languages – here we have 11 official languages including English which I am studying), cultural differences, as well as history which leaves its marks and consequences today …! Sometimes, despite the fact that as a missionary you’re giving everything you have, someone could consider you a colonizer which truly hurts, but when they begin to know you things change. But in all these it is His presence and His grace which comfort me by giving me the strength and the joy to always start anew
I would like to share this with the Salesians who are thinking of becoming missionaries: A question which I was always asked was: “How can I tell if I am called?” My response is: it is very easy. Try to answer Him and you will hear Him”! Trying to respond to what you hear, does not mean that you have to be preoccupied, but only be occupied. We must respond generously as in Psalm 39, “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will”! And when the Good Father calls His son, He also gives him what he needs … Because He does not want his work to fail. Do you believe this…? “Come and see”! (Jn 1,38-39).
Cl. Odise Lazri
Albanian, missionary in South Africa
Celebrating the bicentennial of the birth of our father and founder Don Bosco, we want to remember some of his souvenirs to the first missionaries in 1875: “Let the world know that you are poor in clothing, in food, in housing, and you will be rich in the sight of God and you will become masters of people’s hearts – Among yourselves love, counsel, correct each other, but never be envious, resentful, nor be filled with rancour – Above all let the good of one be the good of all – Let the pains and sufferings of one be regarded as the pains and sufferings of all, and let each one seek to strive to overcome or at least mitigate them – Constantly promote devotion to Mary Help of Christians and to the Blessed Sacrament – Observe your rules, and never forget the monthly Exercise for a Happy Death”.
For the Growth of Volunteer Service in the whole Salesian Society
That the experience of volunteer service help young people to mature fully, also in the vocational and missionary dimension
As heirs of Salesian Youth Spirituality, in the month of his birth, the intention is that all young people who meet Don Bosco may learn live the joy of faith, the optimism of hope and commitment to missionary volunteer service marked by charity.