Missionary Youth (Gioventú missionaria) possible also today?
Dear Friends and Salesian Family members,
A special greeting from Sam Phran, the ‘Vatican’ of Thailand, near Bangkok. Just yesterday a further 25 SDB and 11 FMA new missionaries were sent from the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians at Valdocco by the Rector Major (149th expedition). At the same time three EAO provincials were also there as part of their week-long mid-term encounter with the Rector Major in Don Bosco's holy places: Fr Joseph Quang (VIE), Fr Godofredo Atienza (FIS) and Fr Charles Saw (MYM).
Most of the 11,000+ Salesian missionaries ad gentes, who have been sent out since 1875, left their homeland at quite a young age (even as young as 15 years old) and thousands of them even before their novitiate in the mission land. This missionary fire was possible due to the bold and far-sighted Salesian missionary culture, including the Missionary groups in most of our houses. There was a wide network of missionary aspirantates in many European provinces and the vibrant youth magazine ‘Gioventú missionaria’ (Missionary Youth) was published in six languages.
Are the young people of today less courageous than 50 or 100 years ago? I don’t think so! What we probably miss today is the missionary spirit and enthusiasm to share the Gospel to the ‘ends of the earth’. Wherever I have been asking teenagers about their life dreams, the only ‘missionary kids’ are always those educated by different Christian denominations, but never Catholics! A few years ago as the Councillor for the Missions (2008-2014), I discovered an exciting Salesian tradition - an almost forgotten experience in most of our EAO provinces: a Missionary group.
What is the ‘Missionary group about? It’s not about the name, it’s about the group vision and action. In the recent Cagliero11 (August) we find these simple indications: (1) daily prayer for missionaries all around the world – e.g. Missionary Rosary; (2) group study about present mission frontiers; (3) personal offering to the missions (fundraising); (4) sharing of missionary news and needs [Cagliero11 on social media]; (5) personal commitment to catechesis or sharing the Gospel with non-Christians or (6) personal missionary vocation and action growth (Lord, send me!).
We can start to re-form missionary groups in our SYM, in our Youth centres, in our formation houses (starting from the aspirants), in our parishes or schools. What about ‘Namuncura Boys’ or ‘Cagliero Friends’?
During this month of October the Synod of Bishops will take place in Rome, focused on Youth – Faith – Vocation discernment (Oct 3-28). The 5th World Congress of Salesian Cooperators will also take place (Oct 25-28). May the month of the Holy Rosary and of the Missions be for us a time of true Salesian prayerful life – centred on God present through the needs of young people!
Fr. Václav Klement, SDB
Councillor for the EAO Region