Missionary Animation Wisdom 1992-2019
Tokyo, Japan, 23 November 2019 -- Interview with Fr Achille Loro Piana.
Yours has been a long journey of missionary animation. What are your 3 most treasured experiences?
The first experience was my first involvement in a meeting on a Missionary Animation at Bangalore in October 1992, invited by the then Councillor Fr Luciano Odorico to give a report on the experience that DBVG had had for the first time a few months earlier in Rabaul. (PNG). At that time I just used a word processor and not yet a computer. It was Fr Chrys Saldanha who wrote up my report with a PC. I then made up my mind that I should learn how to use a computer.
The second experience is to have seen almost all of our provinces in our beloved EAO (I have gone out of Japan around the region 59 times in 27 years, for meetings, volunteer work, retreats, pilgrimages). This made me nourish a great love for our (EAO) region, which is always in my heart and in my prayers. Actually my concern for the missionary work in the EAO is a pillar of my spiritual life. I feel I am very much a region-minded Salesian.
A third beautiful experience is the chance to have met some of the great missionaries in our region: Card. Zen, Fr. Acquistapace in Hong Kong, Fr. Nicosia in Macau. Bishop Capelli in Tetere and Gizo (Solomon Islands). Fr. Barbero Valeriano in PNG. Fr. Zago in Rabaul and Cebu. Fr. Facchinelli in Korea. Fr. Carbonell in Indonesia. Fr. Varengo and Bro. Quaranta in Australia. And this is just to mention a few. I also met a good number of young missionaries, specially from the Philippines, Viet Nam and India, who are doing great work to spread the Gospel in our EAO.
You have witnessed the steady progress of Missionary Animation (MA) in our region and in the whole congregation...how do you feel about it?
Yes, I can say that there has been steady progress in MA in the region especially in the area of communication and formation. At Parañaque a good number of young confreres of the region have received and are receiving good Salesian formation: besides, over there they learn English and get many new friends. I feel happy for that. We can see the fruit in several provinces, especially in Viet Nam, Indonesia, East Timor, PNG and Solomon Islands, but also in Mongolia and Samoa. Unfortunately, the same thing cannot be said of my province. Especially thanks to BoscoLink and to the EAO Regional's meticulous care, communication in our region has reached a remarkable level.
EAO Missionary Animation Delegates have come together annually since 2014. What are the main fruits of this recent period?
It was not so before, but since 2014 the EAO missionary animation delegates gather every year in a convenient and nice venue of the region. Sihanoukville and Dili have been wonderful places for our meetings. The best fruits are the sharing of our experiences in MA and the friendship between the members. These fruits encourage us to be good mission animators in our provinces and provide each other with hints and ideas for our animation work. Another fruit is the presence in our provinces of missionary confreres and young volunteers from all over the region. Their presence enriches the provinces and keeps them spiritually united.
What are the challenges for Missionary Animation in the EAO?
I think that every province has to face its own peculiar challenges. Situation and atmosphere are different as the stone of a mosaic are different in color ad sides: but the picture of the EAO is that of a beautiful and loving region, rich of a great and promising variety of people and cultures. In my province I find difficult to make the confreres interested and involved in missionary animation.
What is important for the formation of newly-appointed Provincial Delegates for Missionary Animation (PDMA)?
Perhaps what is most important for a newly appointed PDMA is to foster interest and concern for others and for others’ problems. I see, especially in my province, that many confreres are really committed to their mission, but cannot think of anything else besides their own work. Besides, to be able to understand English and to express oneself in comprehensible English is a challenge that has been underlined also by Fr. MC George in our last meeting in Dili.
You have taken part in many regional meetings. (1082 flights). Any advice for the participants and moderators?
I have seen many and skillful moderators, but I was not able to become one. I have to apologize for that and I don’t think I can give any good advice. I really feel grateful to them for their skill, sacrifice and commitment.
Free sharing: dream or wish or prayer?
These recent years, at the end of our meetings, I always said good bye to participants saying: “and, as I said last time, this is the last time for me to show up……” But, who knows what’s going to happen next time? Anyway I pray for the birth of a good successor and I wish that in our meetings there might be also time for some pleasant jokes to cheer up the assembly, as we did in the meetings for translators (Dalat 2014) and for missionary animation (Sihanoukville 2018). A smile and good laughter are wonderful means to make the Good News “attractive”, as Pope Francis tells us when speaking of evangelization.
Related news article:
AustraLasia 5254 (II) EAO Mission Animation steadfast progress https://www.bosco.link/webzine/52820