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By Novice Sunil Iqbal, SDB

       FIS-Pakistan Delegation (Sunyani, Ghana), 29 August 2022 -- Next September 8, God willing, another group of Salesian novices will make their first profession in Mary Help of Christians parish, Sunyani, Ghana (AOS province). Among the 13 novices is also one from the EAO region. We are happy to have his honest and simple sharing one week before this important event:

       “As a young novice from Pakistan I arrived in Ghana in 2021 August 07, and was meant to discover a new world and one quite unexpected, very different from what I had been used to. It was totally different from my expectations: Ghanaians are very welcoming people. What I was thinking when I was in Pakistan has totally changed. I thought that the people of Ghana were very poor, and they were still living in wildlife. Before coming here some of my friends had joked that they would be watch the national geography channel to find me and how I was living in Ghana. Living here in Ghana, I found that the people of Ghana are developed and living an outstanding life, they are very rich in their culture. People are welcoming, friendly, and very hard-working.

       “The desire to become a Salesian brought me to Ghana’s Novitiate because due to Covid'19 I was not able to continue my Novitiate in the Philippines. Life in the novitiate is sweet but a little perplexing as well in the Novitiate. I learned so many new things. I think that in Novitiate we don’t have time to waste, we couldn’t stand in one corner and contemplate the past, looking over my decision as to whether it was correct or not. We need to look to the future with hope, and know how to nurture the certainty in our hearts that what we are doing will bear much fruit, the fruit of holiness, fruit for the young people, for those who are waiting for us eagerly to satisft their needs, and the fruit of good Christians and upright citizens.

       “My way of seeking things is marked first of all by empathy and love. During my whole Novitiate year, I have tried to learn how to walk in the shoes of our boys. And I am still learning to become the kind Salesian who can get close to young people, capable of empathy and establishing immediate contact like Don Bosco. “It is enough that you are young for me to love you very much” (Don Bosco)

       Pastoral experience in Ghana

       “Being Salesians, we cannot live our lives fully without pastoral work in every stage of our formation, the pastor's work is an essential part of the formation. My pastoral experience was part of my Novitiate formation, it helped me to learn the freedom of the young people from the very real slavery and the real evil which is sin. The Novitiate opened my door for the young people to accept them into my life and save their souls from the slavery of sin.

       “The year of the Novitiate showed me the Salesian mission in the mind of its founder coincides with the whole person and the whole world. Staying in the Novitiate was a very meaningful year for me because of this place. I will be able to start my mission for the future. It was a very interesting apostolate for me because the openness of the young people of Ghana enriched me to continue my mission and my vocation. In other words, I can believe that the young people of Ghana are the foundation for my vocation, not only the foundation but the rock-hard foundation, one that will enable me to stand firm for the whole of my life. So I thank God for this opportunity to be in the Novitiate. It shows that God loves me a lot and always showers me with blessings.

       Response to the call

       “The Novitiate has helped me spiritually and made a strong relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ as well as helping me to understand that Jesus is the one who loves me the most in this world. Jesus is hope for me. Sometimes there are things in life; if absent, they create a sense of incompleteness. Jesus is not like that “thing”. Instead, His absence creates emptiness. I am a Body and He is the Soul. Just like a body is considered dead without the soul, I am also useless without Him. In other words, Jesus is my Saviour and He gives life for me to save me as a sinner. Again, I am Sunil, I am Sinner, but I am also a beloved son of God. This novitiate year helped me to see my vocation clearly and reposed to God with all my freedom and understanding. This also calls me to follow and love Him without thinking. He had already stretched out His hand towards me and asked me to follow him, it is time for me not to think twice, just say to Him. Here I am Lord, send me!”


       Another three Pakistani young men have already reached Sri Lanka (LKC viceprovince) for their Aspirantate and three Pakistani prenovices moved from Malawi (Lilongwe) to their novitiate in Zambia (Kabwe), in the ZMB viceprovince. Our prayers for their vocation path are highly appreciated!









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  • vaclav 2022.09.02 08:44
    From the FB of Fr Mel Racelis, FIS province
    FIS promotion.jpg


    Following Jesus even up to Ghana
    Homily on Thursday, 22nd Week in Ordinary Time
    1 September 2022
    This morning I had an appointment at the Consulate of Ghana. Obedient to my superior I am going to West Africa next week in order to attend the first profession of a Pakistani Novice named Sunil, who spent two years of his formation with us in Cebu. Having completed one year of Novitiate formation in Ghana, this coming September 8, he will finally be making his first religious profession of the vows in the Salesian Congregation, together with twelve other batch mates coming from different parts of West Africa.
    Having received my visa to Ghana this morning I am personally getting excited for this trip not so much because I’ll be seeing Africa for the first time but because I’ll be witnessing once again the goodness of the Lord who continues to call from different parts of the world young men who are willing to follow Jesus and dedicate their lives to continue his mission of saving souls.
    Coincidentally, today’s Gospel presents to us the vocation story of Simon Peter, who eventually would be chosen as head of Jesus’ Apostles. At that time a big crowd of Jews had gathered around Jesus by the shore of Lake Galilee to listen to his teachings. They were all amazed by the gracious words he spoke to them. One of them was Simon who owned the fishing boat which Jesus used as a pulpit. Apparently he was too busy cleaning the nets. Nevertheless I guess he too was listening to the teachings of Jesus and was marvelling at his words. When, however, Jesus told him to put out into the deep and lower the nets for a catch he must have been surprised, if not confused that the great teacher should command him to go back into the deep and cast the net in broad daylight.
    Although hesitant, Simon, nevertheless, followed Jesus’ command. No questions asked. No objections raised. And the good news is, to his great astonishment he hauled in such a great number of fish that they almost sink despite getting help from his partners. Simon was overwhelmed and immediately fell on his knees. He just couldn’t believe being so abundantly blessed that day in spite of his numerous sins. And so, aware of his being unclean before God and fellowmen he asked the Lord to keep his distance from him, lest he be contaminated by his sinfulness. But the other good news is this: Jesus did not walk away. Even if he knew Simon was a sinner he remained standing there and commanded him to follow him, telling him that his new job would be to catch men. And so as soon as they were back at the shore, Simon and his companions left everything – the numerous catch of fish, their boats and their nets, and their families – and they followed Jesus.
    Today while we recall this particular gospel story, we realize that the Lord is indeed continuing to call people who are ready to leave behind everything in order to follow him and be fishers of men. Our Salesian mission in Pakistan began only less than twenty-five years ago. And now we are seeing the fruits of our mission esp. among young men who are responding generously to God’s call. We now have two Salesian priests among the Pakistani locals, one Salesian cleric doing his third year Theology, another one doing his first year Philosophy, still another one doing his practical training, and finally we have Novice Sunil who will make his first profession by September 8.
    In Cebu we have around thirty College students coming from Visayas and Mindanao aspiring to be priests or brothers one day, plus eight who have just begun their prenovitiate program. Let us pray in this Mass that they may all persevere in their vocation. And let us pray also for your parish community that God may bless you with many young people willing to follow the Lord and share in his mission of preaching the Good News and saving souls for the glory of the Father. GiGsss!

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