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In Memoriam of Fr. Peter Zago (1935 - 2017)

By Our Own Correspondent

Perosa Argentina, Italy -- Today, in the afternoon of 2nd January 2018 was held the funeral Eucharist at Perosa Argentina (small town of 3000 inhabitants, 60 km from Turin, Italy). Gathered here in Perosa Argentina, Church of St. Genesio, but followed by members of Salesian Family in Piedmont, Italy and in many countries, where Fr. Pietro Zago ministered as Salesian Missionary Priest over past 52 years – Philippines, India, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, Indonesia and Pakistan. Five Salesian provincials (FIS, FIN, ITM, PGS, ICP), many FMA sisters, VDB members, many Don Bosco Past Pupils (especially from Cebu and Quetta) and Salesian Cooperators are praying with us today.

1. Give thanks God for given us such a great model of Salesian missionary

"We give thanks for his example of enthusiasm and dynamism; his optimism, joy and great trust in Divine Providence; his warm approach to the young and our lay collaborators; his generosity to everyone especially the poor and those in need, very close to his heart; above all his cheerful countenance and great devotion to the Blessed Mother; all these that really describe him as an excellent Salesian Missionary…" (Fr. Godo Atienza, Provincial Philippines - Cebu)

Fr Peter might remain a shining icon of the article 30 of SDB Constitutions: People not yet evangelised, People still awaiting the gospel message were the special object of Don Bosco's concern and apostolic effort. They continue to stimulate our zeal and keep it alive…. This work mobilizes all the educational and pastoral means proper to our charism….

From India to Brasile, Salesians do remember him today as true model for his missionary zeal! Big thanks, Fr Zago're one of the big reasons why I am now a Salesian missionary priest.

2. Give thanks for his availability for the Salesian Missionary Availability as Pioneer

Probably not all of us here are even completely aware about the full extent of Fr. Peter’s availability for the sakes of Salesian Mission. This obedience to the call brought him to many different countries – as young Salesian from Italy to India; then as Salesian Priest to be among the pioneers of many important houses in the Philippines – in Tondo (slum area of Manila), in Don Bosco Technical High School and Don Bosco Boys Town in Cebu; as missionary in a third country of Papua New Guinea (founder of Vunabosco community and school) and at the end also the founder of Quetta in Pakistan. Last but not the least, during his 6 years as the Superior of FIS province (Philippines South) extending in Timor Leste, Indonesia and Southern islands of the Philippines, again Fr. Peter was a tool of founding many new presences in all 3 countries.

3. Give thanks God for his great zeal to promote and accompany Salesian Vocation

To be a Salesian Pioneer missionary means many things – not only to raise up with great sacrifice the necessary infrastructures of Don Bosco schools, dormitory, workshop and other necessary building, but it does mean first of all to share the Gospel with the heart of Don Bosco, to share the Charism of Don Bosco, his Preventive System and Spirituality. But beyond any doubt for saw the seeds of first Salesian vocations – SDB, FMA, VDB and Salesian Cooperators.

One senior Salesians shares: "I thank Fr Peter for his way of guiding me as a young Rector then, giving me time for a one-on-one conference, where I learned much of how fatherly he is and how accommodating he can be just to be able to accompany me. He writes me personal notes on special occasions to remind me of my Salesian commitment as a consecrated person, and to continue to do well despite challenges and discomforts."

One Salesian missionary priest shares the accompaniment in moments of vocation crisis "…in 1995, I submitted to him a letter to leave the Congregation, just 5 years after my perpetual profession as Salesian Brother. He listened to me, then put my letter under the statue of Mary Help of Christians. After few months I postponed my decision to leave the Congregation…So I remain as Salesian, thanks to Fr. Zago's trust to Mary Help of Christian."

The Catholic community in the Philippines and in Pakistan will remember Fr. Peter especially for his vocation zeal: first generation of Salesians SDB, first FMA sisters as well his Assistance among the first VDB secular institute member in the Philippines South.

4. Give thanks God for his great passion as Salesian Educator especially of the Poor

Fr. Peter is alive in the memories of many young people, now Bosconians (DB Alumni) in the Philippines, who treasure his Educative and apostolic charity in action:

"Fr. Zago picked me up from among the boys in the city streets (1969) and molded me to become a good Christian and a successful professional. You have been always my inspiration." (one of Don Bosco Cebu Alumni who served for 20 years as Treasurer of the Association)

"Fr. Zago used to play football with the students wearing white cassock, preventive strategy that he said kept students occupied. He wants us to be active, not idle. He kicks the ball to you if he sees you doing nothing. … He taught me me the basics of football since grade 4. We will miss him! … “The talent and knowledge I learned from him got me a university scholarship that allowed me to graduate in College."

One of his boarders in Cebu: "We always loved Fr. Peter’s ways of dealing with us boarders and aspirants and for sure (each of us could) get the taste of being kicked with a ball if we stay idle in a corner.. Yes, we cherish the memory of our rector, Fr. Zago playing football during the noon break surrounded by some 200 boys playing with him."

5. Give thanks God for his tireless effort for the poor as true son of Don Bosco. 

Especially during past almost 20 years in Pakistan, Fr. Peter became known through many Salesian Mission Agencies – Mission Offices (Bonn, Madrid, Torino, New Rochelle) with his tireless work to reach the poor young people, both inside and outside of Don Bosco education institutions. With the help of many humble or famous benefactors and lay mission partners he was able to reach out to the victims of earthquakes or floods in Pakistan, to the Afghani refugee schools in Quetta or simply to many poor young people both Muslim and Christian. His help was realized through the scholarship or simple accepting the children or young in Don Bosco education institutions, DB Learning Center in Quetta or Don Bosco Technical School in Lahore.

"Fr Peter will not rest ... not even in heaven... he is busy setting up a new Vocation Training Center... or another Oratory for the poor... He is a true model for us all! One with you all in prayer!"

Mons. Luciano Capelli, Solomon Islands - Gizo

"Our deepest gratitude to our beloved founder of the Philippine-South Province and the Pakistan mission! On a personal note, thank you, dear Fr Peter, for patiently mentoring me! Enjoy your deserved reward in the Father's house and pray for us."

Mons. Patrick Buzon, Bacolod - Philippines

"Fr. Peter Zago started the work at the Don Bosco Technical School. He is still remembered by the first students of DB Vunabosco and by the people of Rabaul. May he rest in peace!"

Mons. Francesco Panfilo, Rabaul – Papua New Guinea"

Yesterday we celebrated the Indonesia – Timor Leste Provincial Day in Fatumaca and we have offered intention may God receive him in God's Kingdom."

Fr. Apolinario Neto (Provincial ITM)

May Fr Peter be eternally happy, may all the saints welcome him in heaven, may he intercede for all of us, may we learn from him, may we remember him always and may his life continue bringing abundant fruits." We pray that Don Bosco welcome Fr. Peter now in the Salesian Garden in Heaven! We pray that he may continue to be for us an icon of a dedicated Salesian Missionary!

Truly, you have been a Don Bosco in our midst. Surely, you now enjoy a special place in heaven. Continue to guide the Salesian work in the South of the Philippines where you have been very dedicated. Thank you for everything. Fr. Peter, continue to keep us in your heart!


Grateful for Fr. Zago’s 83 years of life given

  • 64 years of Salesian religious lif
  • 62 years of missionary life in Asia - Oceania
  • 54 years of Salesian priesthood for the young

Curriculum Vitae of Fr. Zago

(thanks to the Provincial Vicar of ICP Province, Torino)

  • 1935. Italy: January 5 – born near Padova
  • 1940. Perosa Argentina – family migrated to Piedmon
  • 1948. Chieri Salesian Aspirantate (Junior High School)
  • 1952. Pinerolo Novitiate
  • 1953. August 16 – first profession SDB
  • 1953. Foglizzo – postnovitiate studies (Philosophy)
  • 1956. Goa (India) – practical training (Portuguese Goa)
  • 1959. Bollengo (Italy) - theology
  • 1963. Italy: March 25 – ordained pries
  • 1963. Madras (Chennai) – India, catechist in Basin Bridge, St. Joseph Tech.School
  • 1966. Richmond (California – USA), parish and school ministry
  • 1969. Philippines, Cebu: Boys Home (DBTC)
  • 1974. Philippines, Manila: Don Bosco Tondo (Parish, VTC, social work)
  • 1981. Philippines: Cebu – Boys Home (DBTC)
  • 1989. Papua New Guinea (PNG): Vunabosco (archdiocese of Rabaul)
  • 1992-1997: FIS – first provincial of the new province (Cebu, Timor Leste, Indonesia)
  • 1998-2013: Pakistan – Quetta
  • 2013-2016: Pakistan – Lahore
  • 2016-2017: Italy – Cumiana (ICP Province)

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  • vaclav 2018.01.03 17:39
    Thank you for the nice and kind words for our beloved Salesian confrere, 

    Fr. Peter Zago, SDB. He was the one who accepted me in Grade School at Don Bosco Cebu. 
    Surely his kindness and sense of generous service
    will inspire many confreres to live a meaningful Salesian kind of life.

    Fr. Cesar Y. Manlosa Jr., SDB
    Lourdes Parish, Cebu City (Cebu, Philippines)
  • Zago-Funeral Mass 2.jpg

    Perosa Argentina, 2 Gennaio 2018

    Zago-Funeral Mass 1.jpg

  • IMG-20180103-WA0038.jpg

    20 SDB priest, Pinerolo diocesan clergy, Perosa Argentina parish priest 

    and few hundreds of faithful 


    Perosa Argentina with 16 SDB and FMA vocations in the past, 

    SDB Salesian house closed in 1974




    Prayer and remembrance - Monica (SERMING - Torino)


    Family of Fr. Zago IMG-20180103-WA0031.jpg

    Perosa Argentina parish priestIMG-20180103-WA0028.jpg




  • vaclav 2018.01.03 22:10



    January 2,2018

    E’ difficile sintetizzare l’affetto e la stima che mi legava a Don Pietro Zago. 

    Lo conobbi nel gennaio 2013 a Lahore, durante un viaggio che feci in Pakistan per conoscere la sua missione e far visita agli amici sindacalisti che avevo incontrato quando lavoravo all’International Labour Organization. Don Pietro mi accolse nella casa salesiana del quartiere di Youhanabad, l’area cristiana della città, offrendomi non solo un luogo sicuro in cui stare (e in Pakistan non è poco), ma anche un’amicizia paterna e spirituale. Don Pietro aveva già affrontato molti anni di missione in Asia, nelle Filippine, in India, a Papua Nuova Guinea, ma in Pakistan si era trovato di fronte ad una sfida ancora più difficile delle altre. Nonostante il paese sia a netta maggioranza musulmana, con sacche di fondamentalismo ed un’arretratezza culturale che limita fortemente il ruolo delle donne, era comunque riuscito ad ambientarsi e a realizzare grandi progetti, grazie alla sua pazienza, alla tolleranza e anche ad un pizzico di astuzia. Sapeva per esempio mordersi la lingua e trattenersi dal muovere apertamente critiche ai capifamiglia per le manifeste discriminazioni verso le figlie femmine, purchè continuassero a mandarle a scuola e non ostacolassero le numerose attività educative dei Salesiani. La scuola da lui fondata a Quetta, nella parte occidentale del paese, poté quindi fiorire e godere dell’apprezzamento di tutta la popolazione, anche musulmana, seminando lentamente e prudentemente valori e idee cristiani. In perfetto stile salesiano, Don Pietro puntava tutto sulla concretezza dell’educazione e della formazione professionale, dando un’opportunità di istruzione e avviamento al lavoro a tanti ragazzi e ragazze. Non faceva proselitismo per non incorrere in pericolose rappresaglie, che avrebbero compromesso l’intera missione, ma con la sua testimonianza personale ha certamente toccato il cuore di tanti pakistani. Soleva dire che la durezza del Pakistan, la difficoltà a vivere liberamente la fede, lo avevano reso più Cristiano. 

    Il suo amore per Gesù era stato temprato da una lunga esperienza sul campo, dai tanti spostamenti da un paese all’altro, ognuno con la sua lingua, il suo clima, e i suoi costumi (in Papua Nuova Guinea aveva persino conosciuto i popoli cannibali…), da delusioni umane come quelle che capitano un po’ a tutti. Era un amore ormai “ripulito” dai fronzoli inutili, dalla forma, dalle fantasie. Parlava di Gesù come di una persona a cui aveva dedicato la sua vita e ultimamente si chiedeva spesso: “Gesù, quando tornerà, troverà ancora fede sulla Terra?”, preoccupato com’era della secolarizzazione in cui è sprofondato l’occidente. 

    Parlava con serenità della sua morte e si diceva persino curioso di vedere ciò che Cristo ci ha promesso per l’aldilà. 

    Aveva imparato a vivere il Cristianesimo, prima di parlarne. E la sua capacità di entrare in relazione con l’umanità del prossimo, a prescindere dall’appartenenza religiosa, gli aveva permesso di farsi tanti amici, anche tra i musulmani. Ricordo che due o tre anni fa, nel periodo in cui i musulmani attaccavano le case dei cristiani a Youhanabad, incendiandole, lui e i suoi ragazzi avevano nottetempo trovato rifugio presso la fabbrica dei vicini musulmani, a riprova che il dialogo è possibile, sempre e comunque, laddove ci si incontra sul terreno della bontà e dell’umanità. Don Pietro sapeva farsi degli amici, non aveva paura della diversità e sdrammatizzava le oggettive difficoltà di vita in un contesto così avverso, coltivando semplici piaceri come la buona cucina o una bella partita di cricket. Era un uomo che la profonda unione con Gesù aveva reso più uomo, più umano. 

    Ora spero che i limpidi occhi azzurri di Don Pietro sorridano per sempre nella sua nuova missione.

    Monica Canalis - Fraternità del Sermig, Arsenale della Pace di Torino


  • vaclav 2018.01.03 22:13


    Nella serata di giovedì 28 dicembre è spirato a Perosa Argentina il missionario salesiano Pietro Zago. Nato il 6 gennaio 1935 a Borgoricco, in provincia di Padova, si trasferì da ragazzo al seguito della famiglia a Perosa Argentina (TO). La sua trafila religiosa lo vede salesiano dal 16 agosto 1953, poi sacerdote dal 25 marzo 1963, e infine missionario dal 1969

    Le sue destinazioni sono l’India, le Filippine, poi Papua Nuova Guinea e, dal 2001, il Pakistan, a Quetta (nel Belucistan, non distante dal confine con l’Afghanistan). La sua opera fu apprezzata e la sua persona stimata persino in questa terra dove il cristianesimo vive spesso una situazione difficile; in particolare anche le autorità civili ne riconobbero gli sforzi, condotti insieme agli animatori e agli studenti – cristiani e musulmani insieme – della scuola salesiana di Quetta, in favore delle vittime del terremoto del 2005 e dell’alluvione del 2010. « – ricorda l’amico Claudio Lussana – respirò l’aria salesiana che dall’oratorio si diffondeva per tutto il paese; un’aria che nella famiglia di don Piero, come lo chiamavamo, portò molti frutti: anche un altro dei suoi fratelli diventò sacerdote salesiano». 

    Lo ricordo molto amico di mio papà: si erano conosciuti naturalmente all’oratorio». Sempre Claudio ne traccia un breve ritratto: «Tanto era intelligente, quanto si dimostrava disponibile con gli altri: quando era missionario nelle Filippine tirò letteralmente su scuole e altre strutture per sollevare le condizioni dei poveri in mezzo ai quali viveva; era entusiasta e dinamico, 
    un “don Bosco in terra” verrebbe da dire; uno dei suoi ultimi progetti riguardava la fondazione, sulla scia dell’esperienza di Mamma Margherita, di un ordine delle Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice legate solo ai voti di povertà e obbedienza, lasciando, accanto alla disponibilità verso gli altri, la possibilità di formarsi una famiglia».

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