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First local Salesian in the EAO Region: 

Bro. Simone Tse Ping Yuen (1902-1926)

By Fr. Lanfranco Fedrigotti, SDB

Hong Kong, 9 January 2018 -- In the Necrology of the China Province (1902-1986) edited by Fr. Rassiga we can read the short and moving vocation story of Bro. Simon (1904-1926), first vocation fruit of the Salesian mission after arrival to Macau in 1906:

"Bro. Simon was born at Shui Hang in Kwang Tung Province. At 13 years of age he was admitted to Salesian School Macau (Instituto Salesiano) to complete his elementary education and later to learn shoe-making. It was there that he developed a strong spirit of piety. He enrolled in the Sodality of St. Joseph first and then in that of the Blessed Sacrament, in which he shone for apostolic zeal and eventually was elected president.

At the conclusion of his novitiate at Ho Sai (Shiu Chow- Shao Guan) in 1925 he made his first profession and then was assigned to work in the Don Bosco School in Shiu Chow. In the latter place Bro Simon distinguished himself not only as a capable crafts-master but also as a responsible educator. He made efforts to follow the examples he had admired in the Salesians at Macau.

A year had hardly elapsed when he was sent to serve at the newly opened school in Shanghai so that he might learn more about shoe-making from his former teacher Bro. Ottavio Fantini, an Italian missionary.

The small ship in which he was travelling with three young aspirants had just sailed into the estuary of the Yang Tse Kiang when it collided with an American steamer and sank. All passengers on board managed to survice except Bro. Simon and his three charges who were caught by the water in their cabin and drowned. It was January 11th 1926.

Bro. Simon, 26 years old, was the first Chinese Salesian to pass away and join Don Bosco in heaven."

Bro. Simon is certainly the first professed Chinese Salesian and the second Chinese Salesian was also a Brother, dear Bro. Joseph Lam, who also died early in Macau on 21 April 1927. So "Brothers first!" in Salesian China and in EAO Natives!

The seeds of his Brother Salesian vocation were probably sown by the first 9 missionary Brothers who came to China in Macau and Shiuchow (Apostolic Vicariate entrusted to the Salesians). According their year of arrival to China:

  • Bro. Luigi Carmagnola, Shoe-maker (1906)

  • Bro. Felice Borasio, Type-setter (1906)

  • Bro. Gaudenzio Rota, Tailor (1906)

  • Bro. Ottavio Fantini, Shoe-maker (1912)

  • Bro. Luigi Viola, Tailor (1912)

  • Bro. Josef Sturm (1912)

  • Bro. Vincenzo Guglielmino, Type-setter (1913)

  • Bro. Guseppe Del Corno, Book-binder (1913)

  • Bro. Giovanni Gnavi, Cook (1918)

We give thanks for the gift and specific contribution of Salesian Brothers to our Charism, Community and Mission!


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