4598(II)_Outstanding model of missionary availability

by ceteratolle posted Jan 03, 2018


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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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