Missionary Promotion

Salesian Missions 1

Missionary promotion is an essential element of the Salesian charism, one of Don Bosco’s core values. Shortly after the approval of the Constitutions in 1874, he sent out the first missionary expedition to Argentina on November 11, 1875.

By Fr. Tom Brennan, SDB

The Sense of Doing Missionary Promotion

Do we really need missionary promotion today? In fact, we do! Salesian missionary promotion helps us to rediscover the “joy of believing” and of “communicating Jesus Christ”[1] which “enlivens the community of disciples”[2] Indeed, an effective missionary promotion will be that spark that could trigger an “openness to a constant self-renewal”[3] in every Salesian and, consequently, “the renewal of structures demanded by pastoral conversion”[4] in every community and province, lest we give in to “faith fatigue” and slide back comfortably to the joyless and odorless “maintenance mode” of Salesian presence. Salesians overflowing with the “delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing”[5] will certainly attract young people to the Salesian life!

The Twofold Purpose of Salesian Missionary Promotion

Salesian missionary promotion keeps alive in every Salesian the passion for making Jesus known and for preaching the Gospel. Missionary zeal leads to a rediscovery of “the joy of being Christians, of being sustained by the inner happiness of knowing Christ and belonging to his Church.”[6] An effective missionary promotion renews “the passion for the salvation of others, the joy of sharing the experience of the fullness of life of Jesus”[7] of individual Salesians and, consequently, makes every member of the local and province community “happy from deep within.”[8] Energy springs forth from this inner joy-inspiring us “to serve Christ in difficult situations of human suffering and gives us “the strength to put oneself at his disposal.”[9] We find ourselves more willing to live out radically and courageously our Salesian vocation.

This, in turn, overcomes “faith fatigue” or the “sense of having had enough of Christianity”[10] that causes inner weariness, small-mindedness, and loss of apostolic zeal which, ultimately, “ends up in a state of paralysis and acedia”[11] expressed in the joylessness and inner sadness in living the Christian and consecrated life. Enthusiastic Salesians attract young people to Salesian life.

An effective missionary promotion is intimately linked to vocation promotion. The missionary zeal that should be present in every Salesian does not preclude, and actually implies, that there are Salesians who have a specific vocation to be engaged in the missionary apostolate outside their own homeland, cultural milieu, and language group (ad exteros); among those who have not yet heard the Gospel, or where the Church is not yet fully established (ad gentes); and in contexts where there is an abandonment of the faith or where it is lived as merely something cultural (new evangelization) through a lifelong commitment (ad vitam). The second purpose of missionary promotion, which flows from its primary aim, is to help Salesians discern whether they have the missionary vocation ad exteros, ad gentes, ad vitam.

In our local communities, missionary promotion could take different forms. The Missions Department suggests the following as a beginning point for local mission animation.

An annual celebration of the Salesian Mission Day in the local communities and/or province.

Each year the Missions Department prepares a poster, printed materials, and a DVD with short films on an aspect of the Congregation’s missionary activity. These resources are available online at the sdb.org site. The videos are also available on Youtube.

These resources show the universality and vitality of the Salesian charism and the missionary zeal of Salesians in different contexts:

  • Promulgate and promote the Monthly Missionary Intention and emphasize the importance of the spiritual dimension of our missionary activities.
  • Include a prayer intention for missionaries in community and personal prayer, especially on the 11th of each month.
  • Remind the Salesian Family members that everyone can support the Congregation’s missionary activity through their prayer and sacrifices.
  • Use the monthly issue of Cagliero 11, distributed to the communities. It offers resources for spiritual reading in the community and for Good Morning talks to students.
  • Form a mission group in every local setting.
  • This fosters a missionary consciousness in young people and the whole educational-pastoral community (EPC) and motivates the young to have enthusiasm for the faith and the Salesian charism.
  • In collaboration with the youth ministry team, a mission group can also foster volunteer service among the young and all the members of the EPC.
  • Becoming involved in service projects and reflecting on the experiences has been shown to be a stimulus for the young to respond to a call to consecrated life and priesthood.

Salesian Mission Groups: Promoting a missionary culture in our ministries


Adapted from Missionary Formation of the Salesians of Don Bosco, a manual prepared by the Missions and Formation departments of the Salesians of Don Bosco, Rome 2014.

[1] Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 86, 30.

[2] Ibid., 21.

[3] Ibid., 26.

[4] Ibid., 27.

[5] Ibid., 10, 13, 83.

[6] Benedict XVI, Homily, Bicentennial Park, Leon, Mexico (March 25, 2012).

[7] Pascual Chavez, “Address at the Closing of General Chapter 26,” Acts of General Chapter XXVI, 137.

[8] Benedict XVI, Christmas address to the Roman Curia (Dec. 22, 2011).

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 81, 83.

November 15, 2018 - 11:45am
Designed & Powered by On Fire Media |