Every year new missionaries go to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Rome. It is the home of the Sacred Heart, constructed by our dear Father Don Bosco with his sweat and blood. During this month consecrated to Him, let us all go there in spiritual and missionary pilgrimage from all continents.
Every house of formation in the Congregation is dedicated to the Sacred Heart. He must also reign in the soul of every missionary ad gentes. Let every Salesian be not robbed of the missionary fire of the Heart of Jesus! It is the most valuable patrimony of every Salesian Province!
Contemplating and invoking the Sacred Heart of Jesus, many could experience the missionary call ad gentes. In fact, he tells us: “the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father, nor me” (Jn 16: 2-3).
Thus, the Heart of Jesus is seeking collaborators who want to help Him so that He and the Father may be known in all and “six” continents (certainly!, including the digital one!) Take courage!
Fr. Guillermo Basañes SDB
Councillor for the Missions
In their sharing the missionaries said that the initial reception by the Hungarian confreres, the presence of a spiritual guide, a confrere who served as a mediator for the newcomers and the chance to make a serious study of the language all served to facilitate their integration into the Province. They also recognised the enormous effort made by the Hungarian Salesians to make the new missionaries feel that they are an integral part of the life and activity of the Province.
In the light of their experience, the missionaries drew up a profile of future missionaries in Hungary: They should have knowledge of an international language, preferably English. They should arrive after the post-novitiate because the period of practical training helps in their inculturation and their gradual mastery of the language. They need good physical resistance to cold and a strong spiritual life. They also noted that it is important that the missionaries come from different countries so as to make the intercultural communities of the Province a truly prophetic fraternity.
It was reiterated, finally, that the missionaries should attach great importance to their spiritual life and take care not to slip into a secularised lifestyle, because secularised Europe has absolutely no need of secularised missionaries!
Today in Europe Salesian missionaries work in Albania, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.
My missionary vocation was gradually formed and nourished at various moments of my life. The seed was planted when my family migrated to Uganda when I was one year old and I grew up in a foreign world and foreign culture which left an indelible mark on me. Uganda had become a part of me.
When we returned to India 10 years later, I studied in a Salesian school where I came to know Don Bosco and the Salesians. My missionary vocation was nurtured from the novitiate onwards. The missionary group helped me to be in constant contact with the missionaries through their frequent visits to the formation houses to share their experiences, work and the challenges they meet.
The decisive moment was in 2006 when Fr. Pascal Chavez, then Rector Major, invited us young Salesians to be missionaries during his visit on the occasion of the centenary of Salesian presence in India. With the help of my spiritual director to discern this missionary vocation within my Salesian vocation, I finally applied to be a missionary ad exteros, ad vitam and was sent to Hungary.
As an Asian missionary in Europe, I realised that I needed to undergo first a personal conversion in a new country and culture. As a young Salesian I was able to inculturate myself easily even if I struggled to learn the language and be accustomed to the food and the climate. Yet, as a foreigner I struggled to establish new relationships and to become part of a people with a culture different from mine and make myself loved by the young. Since most of the native Hungarian Salesians were quite elderly, it was quite a challenge to adjust to the community life. I had to discover as well my role and responsibility in my new Province. It was like rediscovering one’s vocation within a vocation.
Surely India, where Christians are a small minority, has great need for missionaries. But Hungary, a country deeply marked by years of atheistic communism and now by secularism, also tremendously needs people to proclaim the Gospel in various areas of society. Today many Hungarians, especially youngsters, do not believe in anything while others have abandoned their faith. This is our missionary work ad gentes here in Hungary.
As a Salesian I strive to help them experience the love of God and the love of a father, brother and friend through a tipical approach of Don Bosco: loving kindness, interpersonal relationship, sports, music, theater, the Social media. Missionary life in this country is studded with numerous moments of joy and satisfaction. Yet, my greatest joy is to experience God working through me to touch the heart of a young person.
I would like to ask you, dear reader, to say a prayer for me, for no missionary can toil on his own. However, if you feel God is calling you, then join me !
Fr. Quadros Lytton Ervanto
Indian, missionary in Hungary
The Servant of God Fr Joseph Vandor (1909-1979), Hungarian missionary to Cuba, among his advices he suggests: “Delete from the mind past downfalls. Life begins today. Live today as if it were the only day of our lives. In the morning, resolve to control a defect, striving to attain a virtue. In the evening check what has been positively achieved”.
For Salesian Vocations in Oceania
That Salesians in Oceania know how to build up the vocation culture through witness of life, the courage to propose, personal accompaniment, coherence of life and prayer.
There are several challenges in building up with patience and ardour the vocation culture in our works in the six countries of Oceania. In Australia we are challenged by the secularised contexts and by vocational fragility in the Pacific Islands. As we give thanks to God for the many vocational fruits from Samoa and the gift of the first priest from Papua New Guinea (2013) and Lay Brother from the Solomon Islands (2010), we also pray for vocations in Australia and for future first vocations from New Zealandia and Fiji.