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2018.08.23 05:31

4827(IV)_"I saw in him Don Bosco!"

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An international commemoration of Fr. Giacomin (1920-2000)

in Anisakan

By Fr. Bosco Nyi Nyi, SDB

Anisakan, Myanmar, 20 August 2018 -- There are many creative Salesian figures, especially missionaries, who contributed with their life witness to the rooting of Salesian charism in each specific country. Also Myanmar Salesian Family is discovering the spiritual profile of one exceptional Salesian, Italian missionary - Fr. Fortunato Giacomin (1920-2000) who spent his last 35 years in Anisakan - SDB motherhouse of Burma.

In the large green compound of Anisakan we find also the SDB and FMA cemetery. Our Nazareth apostolic school boys pray almost daily for the 8 Salesians of Don Bosco and one FMA sister who rest here. The cemetery is located just few meters from the large football field, full of 170 boys every day.

On the last day (August 20) of the EAO Salesian Family seminar all 30 participants went to pray and get know about one exceptional figure in 80 years of SDB history of Burma: Fr. Fortunato Giacomin, SDB (1920-2000). This international gathering brought together SF members from Australia, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, Philippines and Italy. So it was a good chance to make known Fr. Giacomin.

First of all the MYM Vice-provincial, Fr. Bosco Nyi Nyi read the testimonial of Cardinal Charles Bo, Archbishop of Yangon (June 25, 2018):

"My father passed away at home when I was at the age of two (like Don Bosco). With the kind and loving intervention and support of our Monhla Pastor, don Luwee three of us siblings were admitted in Mandalay Lafon’s Boarding house run by the Salesians. We were privileged to be educated by the Salesians. Apart from the stationaries, food and lodging, the education was offered free. I lived for four years with other over 150 boys as boarders in the warm family environment of the Salesians.

Fr. Giacomin was the rector: a father to us. Strict with rules and discipline but with a father’s warm heart. I saw in him Don Bosco.

Every night Fr. Giacomin would be the last one to sleep, he would check whether all the boys were asleep and well covered especially during winter, then we would rest in one corner in the dormitory. During break and recreation he was always found among us boys. If he was in the office, we would run to him and disturbed him. He gave time for us. I still remember, every year for my Birthday 29th October and Feast Day 4th November, he would call me to his office and gave me a holy picture or a medal. Such was his love for each one of us.

After supper before Night prayers we would flock around him, to listen to his : Life and dreams of Don Bosco. He had a very tender heart for the poor, orphans and village boys, but would not tolerate boys who are grumbling, stealing and boys who foster special and particular friendship and those, who smoke and who are lazy.

Every month Fr. Giacomin would check our school exams report and copoies them down to his register. It wasn’t easy to do regularly for over 100 boys for every month. He was also the Rector of Lafon Memorial High school with over 25000 studentes and rector of technical school: carpentry, tailoring and shoe making. Atouch worker of Don Bosco. With such an attractive model before me I couldn’t resist but feel attracted to be one like him: to join the Salesians.

When the military General Ne Win, with his Myanmar way to socialism”, nationalized all the mission schools, hospitals, banks and private enterprises in 1965-66, the Salesian Congregation in Myanmar too underwent a crisis. All the foreign missionaries who came after the World War II and who had university degrees were all expelled. Fr. Giacomin providentially had not gone for any degree but everything was through self-study. So he could remain in the country! Many Salesians, especially the Lay-Brothers and clerics left the Congregation or joined the diocesan seminaries. Fr. Giacomin continued to stay not only to live but also to die in the country.. "

The the simple commemoration continued with a short talk by Fr. Joachim Ye Maung, entrusted by the SDB Provincial to collect the testimonials from the Salesian Family members, Catholic bishops and priests as well from the lay Catholic or Budhists around Anisakan, who were helped in many ways - medical care, social or pastoral activities of Fr. Giacomin. Until many of simple people not only admire the shining witness but also ask Fr. Giacomin for different graces in prayer. Also each participant of EAO Salesian Family formation received a simple photo with his main life data.

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