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By Salesian Bulletin (Italy)

       BS October 2022 -- Since 1877, launched by Don Bosco himself, the Italian Salesian Bulletin (Chief editor Fr Bruno Ferrero, SDB) features without fail monthly missionary stories from SDB, FMA, other Salesian Family members or lay missionary volunteers. In the month when Brother Zatti was canonised (October 2022) one of the SB articles (In Prima Linea - At the forefront) features Salesian Brother Roberto Panetto. After fruitful years of mission in Thailand, he became one of the Founders of the Cambodia Don Bosco Mission more than 30 years ago.

       In the four full pages with many photos Br Roberto answers the following questions:

  • What is your identity card?
  • How did your vocation come about?
  • How did you get know the Salesians?
  • What is your present task - responsibility?
  • What are youth in Cambodia like today?
  • How are Salesian works in Cambodia going?

       The tone of the interview is enthusiastic and attractive. Here we report just a few flashpoints from the 4-page dialogue:

       ‘One of our “weak points” as Salesians is to be ‘in love with Don Bosco’. When somebody ask us: Who are you? - our natural answer is ‘We are Salesians of Don Bosco’ before admitting we are ‘sons of the Good Lord’. I hope, our Lord will forgive us!’

       'I confess with pride that I am a native of Turin, the city where Don Bosco carried out his adventurous mission. I was born in 1951...’

       ‘My vocation was born thanks to a “Goodnight!” Not really like it was for Samuel, but for all who follow a religious vocation, there is something “mysterious” in the call, something between a call and a command - go and leave everything behind! Our catechist (=spiritual moderator) spoke about two ways in life - about marriage that leads to a life within a restricted circle of people in the family and about religious life that leads to a larger (Salesian) family that comprises the whole world. Every day you discover new people who are part of this family.’

       ‘After failing twice to become a priest, when I was expelled from the seminary due to some mischievous little acts, first from diocese of Alba and second from the Salesian aspirantate in Chieri, I continued at the the Salesian vocaqtional school in Bra and got know the Salesians up close as marvelous people.’

       ‘Now I am the Economer of the Cambodia Delegation, which is part of the Thailand-Cambodia-Laos SDB province (THA). I am based in the seashore city of Sihanoukville, some 230 km from the capital of Phnom Penh. And I am also involved in the mechanical department of the DB Technical and Hotel school in this work.’

       In the final lengthy part of the interview, Br. Roberto presents all 7 Salesian works in the Kingdom of Cambodia - Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Kep, Poi Pet, Battambang (2) and hostel in Siem Rap.

       The full version of the interview can be read online in Italian on the Salesian Bulletin website (October 2022 issue) and you can also find a short videoclip with all Cambodian-based Salesian Brothers, both missionaries and a Khmer Salesian Brother.










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