My journey with Salesians started almost 5 years ago in Baku, Azerbaijan, when I was introduced to the local Catholic community which was being coordinated by a group of Passionist priests from Slovakia. I had an opportunity to volunteer there with the Missionaries of Charity and Salesian Youth Office. The most unbelievable and historic event with which I had a chance to be involved was the Apostolic Journey of His Holiness Pope Francis to my country. I had the privilege of talking to him.

A year ago, I decided to leave my job and continue my education at Trinity College Dublin studying for a Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship. It is fair to say that, once you are a Salesian volunteer, you always feel a part of this big family. That is why I decided to continue my volunteering journey with the Salesians. I expressed my interest to the Salesians and I was given a great opportunity by the Salesian Youth Office with an offer to settle in St Catherine’s Centre in Maynooth.

When I came here, I did not know what to expect. New people, a new community, and a different country which is more than 5,000 km away from my former home. However, in a couple of days, I felt the same warmth, care, and support which I had experienced with Salesian brothers and sisters back in Baku. This was my new family. In that moment, I realised that wherever you are, the Salesian family shares the same core values.

The most unique side of my volunteering experience here is working with Don Bosco Aid in Crumlin and living with the Salesian Community at St Catherine’s Centre in Maynooth. In the community, I also contribute to apostolate activities, working closely with students, young people, and organising different social initiatives. One of these activities about which I am passionate is the Don Bosco Green Alliance. This is a collaboration with secondary schools on raising awareness about the environment and global climate change.

St Catherine’s Centre plays an important role in my spiritual and personal formation. Under the coordination and instruction of Fr Cyril Odia and with the constant support of the Salesian community, I am learning the foundation of Christian lifestyle, values, and preparing to receive the sacraments of Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation this coming Easter. I am most grateful to Fr Cyril for helping me discover my spiritual path.

In Crumlin, I am learning how to use a tool in customer relationship management for processing donations and improving my operational skills. However, this smooth learning curve would not be possible without Wojciech Mroczek and my colleague Abigail Watson who patiently listen to my questions and support me at every step.

Volunteering with Salesians of Don Bosco is more than just one year of experience. It is the path to join your new loving family.

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” (Romans 11:33)

By Zaur Samadov