Tribute to Fr. Peter Zago - Mentor, Father and Friend
EAO, 10 January 2018 -- One week after the funeral of Fr. Peter Zago in Perosa Argentina (Italy - Piedmont) will be held a special Eucharist in Lahore Don Bosco Technical School on January 10, 2018 and also from the Philippines we receive some new echo.
1. A simple sketch of Fr. Zago
There is the Brown color. It stands for his being very human and practical in facing the challenges of life.
The white colored strip holding his head represents his deep spirituality. He was a man of prayer.He was a devoted son of Mary. He was Don Bosco in the midst of young.
The halo around his head tells us that he was truly a good man and a holy priest.
The light blue color tells us that he has gone where he truly belongs.He has occupied the room prepared for him by our Father in Heaven."Good and faithful Fr.Peter,enter thou into my Kingdom."
(Fr. Dave Buenaventura)
2. Song is ended but melody lingers on!
A chapter of life has been concluded after writing the history in the lives of many who encountered this missionary, visionary and lover of Mama Mary. Fr. Peter Zago, SDB has left for Father’s house on December 28, 2017 just 8 days before celebrating his 83th birthday on January 6. He lived wonderful 82 years, of which he lived 62 years of joyous witnessing of the consecrated life and 54 years of making the face of the Lord Jesus visible as a Salesian priest. He had been friend, teacher and father to the countless youth throughout his missionary Salesian life. Recently Fr. Peter was residing with his sister Bruna in Parosa Argentina, Torino Italy for some vacations. Among his siblings his sister Bruna is only child of Zago family. She is also 77 years old lady.
Though he left his homeland, Italy, for India when he was only 21 years but in coming years the Spirit stirred him in other parts of East Asia (Indonesia, East Timor, Papua New Guinee and the Philippines). In 1997 (then) Rector Major Fr. Egidio Vigano chose him as Salesian pioneer to Pakistan and Missions Councilor Fr. Odorico Luciano accompanied him in 1998.
For last 18 years (from September 1998 to 2016) he blessed the Church of Pakistan with Salesian charism, pioneering the Salesian youth ministry in Pakistan after maturing the new born south province in the Philippines. In Pakistan he was sent to Quetta a out skirt of Hyderabad Diocese (now Apostolic Vicariate) and started residing in the old seminary. There he not only strived to build the church but also rejuvenated it through erecting beautiful churches and oratories. His struggles to start the mission were not much different those of Don Bosco himself, many did not appreciate his show of Christ-like activity for the Afghan and Uzbek refugee children.
This man of God leaded the Salesians through ups and downs of social and political turmoil, when peace of Quetta was shattered as the war in Afghanistan intensified jeopardizing the lives of the foreigners. His trust in Jesus and Mama Mary was admirable even in the times when things would look far from possible. With faith in Mama Mary’s powerful intercession he buried the medal of Our Lady in the piece of land to extend the Salesian mission and he got the call for purchase exactly on May 24.
Where many missionaries find difficult to learn Urdu (Pakistan National Language) Fr. Peter not only could read but also write the Urdu text. He made extraordinary effort to learn the language to reach out to the poor who always had been close to his heart.
His love for the vocations grew even deeper when from the beginning of Salesian apostolate, he started inspiring many young people through his vibrant and charismatic religious life. Not a few expressed the desire to follow Jesus in the consecrated life seeing his cheerful and joyous life style. I am one the many, who moved to live with the Salesian community headed by this loving father, whose laughter and dangling rosary made an impression.
Even though he was man of strong will and determination but when it comes to living the vow of obedience, he was down to earth in obeying the will of the Father. Once he told me the golden words served me as lamp for path, “the we are human can make mistake but obey with trust in God because he always has a better plan than ours”. His visionary spirit always kept on the twos for the salvation of souls.
Like Don Bosco, he believed in the inner goodness of every person and prayerfully helped others to live out the Christian vocation. He became the face of Don Bosco for the youth. He lived words of Don Bosco, ‘… young should know that they are loved’. He loved the youth of Pakistan and in return they love him more. Although it was his heart’s desire to die in Pakistan among the youth he loved very much. But again, he must be saying, ‘God has some better plan’.
Today Fr. Peter Zago’s wish comes true who always prayed to die as Salesian and meet Don Bosco in the Salesian Garden. Farewell Don Pietro Zago, we your sons in Christ and Don Bosco will keep you alive through rowing the boat of Salesian mission you had launched in Pakistan. Keep praying for us in Father’s house as you did in this mortal earthly city.
(Fr. Samuel Adnan Ghouri)