The Becchi, Colle Don Bosco, Italy, 14 September 2022 -- The annual Salesian Missionary Expedition is held every last Sunday of September. Since Don Bosco's first Misssionary Send-off to Argentina on November 11, 1875 this year the event will take place for the 153rd time. Among the 25 members of this year's expedition are also 4 Salesians from the EAO region: Fr. Paul Kang (KOR, destination Mongolia, VIE), Fr Basilio Pereira Ximenes (TLS, destination Uganda, AGL), Br John Bunmee Chrunsakhon (THA, destination Southern Africa, AFM) and Fr Andre Delimarta (INA, destination Malaysia). Four week course (Sept 1-25) is held this year mainly at Colle Don Bosco - Becchi (Italy) animated by the General Councillor for the Missions, Fr Alfred Maravilla and his team.
We have asked one of 4 EAO new missionaries, Fr Paul Kang (45) from Korea two simple questions. Paul sent his first missionary application to the Rector Major already in 2009, spent one year of his practical training abroad and also did his specialization study in Manila (FIN).
What attracts and motivates you to follow the Salesian missionary vocation ad gentes, ad extra and ad vitam?
"My first desire to live as a Salesian missionary is to follow Don Bosco's Way as a Salesian of Don Bosco, a desire to draw closer to Jesus. In other words, to live among the poor young people of the 'mission field', deeply involved in their lives and cultures. I long to experience more deeply the presence of God as a son of Don Bosco. This call takes precedence over my priority choices for poor youth. It is the desire to be united with Jesus - the Good Shepherd - as a son of Don Bosco. As I was discerning the missionary aspiration and vocation that arises within me, I realized once again how beautiful and special, our Salesian Vocation is. Step by step I realized how great a gift from God this Vocation is."
What is your learning experience of the new missionary course all about?
"I am here in Don Bosco's land, in Don Bosco's home village for three weeks. I'm looking at the Salesian confreres who are determined to live a missionary vocation with me here in Becchi - Colle Don Bosco. Once again I thank God for calling me as a missionary to this holy land of Don Bosco.
Most of all, I feel the green fields and hills, the shining sunlight, and the gentle breeze of Becchi every day. Here in Becchi's peace and quiet we feel deeply that the Holy Spirit is with us.
Moreover, with my Salesian missionary confreres, we can frankly share about our missionary vocation journey, and whenever I listen to them, I am amazed and moved by how God calls each of us in different ways.
There are various types of challenges we will face in missionary life. For example, listening to and learning from senior missionaries the difficulties they will face in the unfamiliar culture of the mission field. I am learning the wisdom of how to accept it and move forward. Along with such troubles, I learn also the wisdom for how to overcome them. While sharing with missionary confreres who will be leaving for the missions I realize that I am never alone.
During this new missionary course we are reaffirming that God will be present with us: through our brothers, through various aids. And through the missionary community here at Colle Don Bosco, we can already talk to each other with different languages, different skin colors, and different cultures and backgrounds. We experience how we can approach and unite together in one spirit.
I would like to give thanks once again to the Lord who gave me this precious time and experience. And also thank the Rector Major and Salesian superiors for this wonderful opportunity."
As you can see in the photo-presentation of the 153rd expedition members, this time the vast majority are young confreres from Africa-Madagascar. Although Fr Paul is the only Korean member of this 153rd expedition, this year another two Korean Salesians were sent to the missions on a temporary basis - one in Yakutsk (Siberia- Russian Federation) and one to Port Moresby (PNG).