How was your vocation born?
I am a son of peasant parents from Brescia. I lost my father at the age of 7 in a tragic event that still remains imprinted in my heart today. As a kid, I used to visit the Salesian community in San Bernardino, home of so many young people who want to become Salesians. I met them in 1964. Every Thursday they took the kids to take a walk and passed by my house. I saw the boys and the Salesians all very happy and, logically, I too felt very happy because they gave me candy.
How did you decide to be a missionary?
At the age of 35, at the height of my strength, I dreamed of spending my life for the poor. I am now a pastor of 15,000 souls in the San Josè parish at 2,750 meters above sea level in the Huaylas valley.
What mission do you carry out in missionary communities?
I have 30 communities scattered on the sides of the two mountain ranges, the Cordillera Blanca and Negra, with some communities living even as high as 3,400 meters. The view is breathtaking when the sky is clear, but the most moving and emotional sight is that of the campesinos, the peasants, bent to the ground, in a perpetual struggle in trying to tear what they need to survive from the earth.
What is your primary mission?
My job is to bring faith among young people and my people. Culture is changing rapidly. Young people dream of studying in Lima, the capital. Remaining in the Sierra are the poor, the children, our oratory which follows the footstep of Don Bosco and reminds us that the most important thing in life is "to save one's soul by helping the poor."