We continue to reflect on the missionary aspect of the Salesian vocation. Here are some testimonies of Salesian missionaries today in a variety of circumstances. They can inspire us to live our vocation.
Fr. Minh Dang, SDB
Thank you for thinking of me and for your prayers. I am currently in Alexandria, Egypt, learning Arabic and helping the community with after school programs and youth center. We have around 900 students; the majority of them are Muslims. With my limited Arabic, my main ministry is at the playground and being a brother to all. Twice a week, I travel to another city (10 minutes by minibus) to celebrate Mass in English for the Missionaries of Charity. Next to the building, there is also the L’Arche community where I volunteer and spend time with its members. By the way, Sr. Suzanne Duawalter, FMA, is also here in Alexandria. I hope in the near future to celebrate Mass for her community.
Sister Carmen Morales, FMA
I felt a call to go to the missions when I very young. I was on fire and ready to do anything, even to give my life for the poor, ready to do hard work and put up with any difficulties and sacrifices involved! When I arrived to the mission that God gave me, I met my first challenge, the language! So I made great efforts to learn English as fast as I could. When I was able to understand some English, I was put with young kids so I was able to do better.
I have enjoyed working with the inter-city youth very much, especially the very poor. When I am able to do something for them, I feel great satisfaction, and this helps my spiritual life as well. One of the places I enjoyed the most was Birmingham, Alabama where the kids were very poor, economically and spiritually. Many had been in jail two or three times. By the time we left that ministry, we had the satisfaction of seeing the baptism of all the members of a family: the mother and five children. Fr. Mark Hyde celebrated the baptism and we Sisters had the great joy of accompanying the family to this special moment.
I had a companion that had more or less the same wish of going to the missions. She was very enthusiastic to do good for people in the missions. She enjoyed only a few months of missionary work, because unfortunately she got sick and had to go home. I am thankful that God has given me the strength and the grace to continue serving him as a Salesian Sister.
Sarah Loos, SLM in Tampa
In my experience as an Salesian Lay Missioner, I have had the joy of (trying to) modeling Don Bosco by the self-giving to Mary, the youth, and the mission itself. It really kicked in for me during summer camp at MHC in Tampa, where I was the activities coordinator. It meant a lot to me to see hundreds of kids come to camp each week and to be a good Catholic example for them. As a missionary disciple, I have the opportunity to impact children’s lives by showing them the love of God in the spirit of Don Bosco, a spirit of joyfulness and play.”
Gladys Johanning, SLM in Tampa
I won’t compare myself to Don Bosco, but there’s so much at Mary Help of Christians Center in Tampa that is happening for the kids, and I’m just learning. I’m very impressed with all the people here and how they are so genuine in their ministry for the young. During youth group one night one of the priests came out and jumped roped with the kids! Did I mention it was very hot here as well?
Kay Conroy, Barn Manager at MHC, Tampa
Ten years ago, I began this missionary life. I only knew that I wanted to give back for the many blessings I had received. I knew that by serving others I could do that. I have learned and gained much in my faith life over the years. The greatest is the role of Mary in our lives and how much she loves us. I think it is Mary who is the common thread between all of us who want to become saints and all those great saints like Don Bosco, who had such great love for her.
Tom Conroy, Volunteer in Tampa
Hopefully everything I do here at MHC can be traced back to helping young people. Whether it’s lifeguarding at the pool, helping on the retreats, fixing up the property, or just being a smiling face in the hallway. I want this place to feel like a home where the young people and their families are loved, and a safe place where they can have fun and be themselves and grow closer to Christ and the Blessed Mother! Sound familiar? It’s the experience of the Oratory!
Fr. Tim Zak, SDB