Lashio, Myanmar, 3 August 2016 -- Come together from the peripheries of our Myanmar Viceprovince, especially from the Lashio diocese based missionary outpost like Namtu and Wa Region is always a great joy. At the occasion of the extraordinary visitation to our Viceprovince the 16 Salesians from the 3 communities within the Lashio diocese enjoyed a time of sharing and staying together not only with the Visitor but also among ourselves.
There was a great surprise when our Bishop Philip Lasap Za Hawng have called us on Sunday with our EAO councilor to meet him. It was good time of fatherly concern about the missionary life of the Salesians with some concrete advise given by our bishop:
"For the evangelization among the ethnic tribes, understanding of their language, mentality and culture is very essential besides setting up schools. These are essential for smoothening and deepening the relationship with the local people and the authorities." Bishop stressed also the need of dedicating time to language learning for both religious and volunteers, as well guarantee the continuity of the personnel.
(Photo n. 4 - Three Salesians - Frs. Bosco, Lucas and John with Bishop Philip Lasap Za Hawng – with the background of the Mynamar Catholic Church Map)
The Salesian work in the Eastern part of Myanmar started already 45 years ago, when during the heroic time we took the first parish in the former PIME mission territory – Namtu, and then during the Lashio Apostolic Prefecture entrusted to the Salesians (1976-1990) with the guidance of Mons. Charles Bo many Salesians developed the basic structures of the local Church. Now the diocese of Lashio (1990) which is stretching in the territory of 61.268 km2 with a population of 2.3 Million has already 29.000 Catholics of many ethnic groups (mostly Shan, Lisu, Wa, Lahu, Kachin…) with 18 parishes and 35 diocesan priest and 8 SDB priest. Together with 122 religious sisters and 120 catechists there are also 22 major seminarians.
Our humble Salesian presence with 3 parishes and dozens of sub-stations is of frontier evangelization and education. There are many boarding houses for the rural youth, in order to facilitate their education and also protect the youth from the involvement in many armed groups that recruiting also child soldiers. We are proud to be in this part of our country and contribute with the heart of Don Bosco to the development with our education. We are also working on the more consistent communities and better preparation of the Salesians who work in this not-so-easy territory. Pray for us!