As a professed Salesian of Don Bosco, what is the biggest change in your role from being a religious to being the pastoral leader of the diocese of Ghent?
I wonder whether this has been a great change at all. I have always loved the Church and in Korea I worked as a chaplain to the students in the Archdiocese of Seoul for many years; I was a member of the priests council and other organisations within the diocese.
In the United States he had a good job, a house, a boat, a motorcycle, a car … and much more besides. But he decided to leave all to serve needy young people, first in Sierra Leone, and soon in Malawi. He is Robert Malusa, a 48 year-old Salesian Brother from the Eastern Province of the United States, one of the missionaries of the 144th Salesian Missionary Expedition.
He is the first Salesian missionary from Myanmar, a land that until now has only received missionaries. He is aged 28 and has still to finish his formation programme, but is already aware of his missionary vocation. It came from the example of the missionaries he knew in his village. His name is Francis Robewno.
In an interview during the Course for New Missionaries, he spoke to about his experience.
Fully aware that Salesian work began all those years back with “a simple catechism lesson”, the Salesians in Fiji, located at Don Bosco House, Nakasi, an outlying suburb of Suva, have embarked on a catechetical venture that has aroused great interest, not only for families whose children do not attend Catholic schools, but also in the local Church.
Sunday 22 September 2013 was the starting Sunday for this venture, run by the novices and postnovices at Don Bosco House under the guidance of their Rector Fr Taisali Leuluai and Fr Jim Kyaw Hoe.
Provincial Superiors of the nine provinces, which constitute the Salesian Region of East Asia/Oceania, held their annual meeting at Lysterfield retreat centre from Tuesday November 19th to Saturday 24th. Fr Francis Cereda, member of the Salesian General Council in Rome, and Fr Andrew Wong, Regional Councillor, joined the Provincials.
Since January 2013, Declan Crowe and I have been volunteering at Don Bosco High School in Salelologa, Savai’I, Samoa, for the Salesians’ Cagliero Project. As volunteers, we were welcomed into this wonderful community; however, we soon became aware of a number of struggles in day-to-day living for locals, including inadequate healthcare, financial hardships and limited transport options, just to name a few. So, in April this year, while enjoying lunch, we didn’t think twice about helping when our Principal Fr Mosese proposed a novel idea to address the lack of affordable transport for students to travel to and from Don Bosco High School.
If we were to stop and reflect on the impact that the twenty-five Cagliero Project volunteers have had on Salesian communities around the world, we would be reflecting for a very long time! The current and past volunteers have shared their skills through the work they have done in Salesian communities in Thailand, Cambodia, Solomon Islands, Samoa and, most recently, Zambia. They have all given up their time to dedicate themselves to young people through volunteering in various Salesian missions.
Take care of the many Lazaruses in the world
On 29 September, the Rector Major, Fr Pascual Chávez, presided at Mass for the commissioning of the 144th Salesian Missionary Expedition.
The Basilica of Mary Help of Christians was full of young people, Salesians, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and Salesian Family members who shared the joy of those being sent to evangelize. This year, as well as the Salesian confreres, 16 Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and 6 lay volunteers received the missionary cross.
Christmas again! How quickly another year has passed! Yet I do not mind. As I sit alone reflecting, and having passed the biblical age of “threescore and ten”, the Christmas season brings not only a host of cherished memories but deeper thoughts. As the decorations go up, as Christmas trees are installed and much loved traditional carols are heard, as cards start arriving bearing greetings from distant loved ones, somehow and very mysteriously a child arises in this old mind and body.
‘I don’t believe in Christmas anymore!’ she blurted out, scattering her coloured packages all over the floor with a mixture of frustration and exhaustion. ‘Well, if that is Christmas, neither do I’, I thought with approval and compassion. At the same time, I became aware of a sad realisation welling up, a sense of pity reminding me of the old adage about ‘throwing away the baby with the bathwater’. ‘This person no longer believes in life’ – I thought – ‘nor does she believe in future or self-worth anymore.’
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