Letter of the Rector Major on the killing of Fr Antonio César Fernández, SDB
(Rome, 18th February 2019) - The Rector Major of the Salesians, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, has written a letter to all his confreres and to the Salesian Family in the world following the tragic death of Fr Antonio César Fernández, Spanish Salesian missionary, of the Francophone Province of West Africa (AFO), shot dead in an ambush struck by jihadist assassins, Friday, February 15, 2019, in Burkina Faso.
Rome, 16th February 2019
To my Salesian Confreres, to the Salesian Family in the world. My dear brethren, It’s just a few minutes I have arrived in Rome, “Sacro Cuore”, on my return from Ireland, where I was doing the visit to the Province of St. Patrick, whose headquarters are in Dublin, and I right away get in touch with all of you.
The reason for this is the sad and painful news that came a few hours ago, during the night, which informed me that our Salesian confrere Fr. Antonio César Fernández, missionary in Africa since 1982, has been assassinated yesterday, at 15.00 hours local time, with three shots during a jihadist attack perpetrated at about 40 kilometers from the border of Burkina Faso. Fortunately, two other confreres managed to survive the attack. They were coming from Lome, after celebrating the first session of the Provincial Chapter of the AFO Province.
Dear brethren, there are many days during the year in which I receive the news of the demise of Salesian confreres for natural causes. This is the law of life, and it will come for us as well. In such cases, however, we give thanks to the Lord for so many beautiful lives generously donated.
But our confrere Antonio César war deprived of his life, they killed him without any reason. He was a good man, a man of God who, like the Lord, spent his life “doing good”, especially among his beloved African people. Antonio Cesar was 72 years old, with 55 years of religious profession and 46 of priestly life. We had met a few months ago in Burkina Faso, precisely in his community of Ouagadougou, where he was Rector and Parish Priest.
Antonio Cesar adds to the number of many other martyrs of the Church today in the world (some of whom are Salesians and members of our Salesian Family).
I invite you to thank the Lord for the beautiful life of our Fr. Antonio César. And also to ask God the Father to help humankind to put an end to this escalation of violence which only causes damage. May the Lord grant that César’s blood, shed in African land, be the seed of Christians, faithful followers of Jesus, and of young vocations at the service of the Kingdom.
Rest in peace, dear César.
Dear brethren, let us proceed more united than ever in the service of the Peole of God, and of the pooerst youth. Evil never has the last word. The Resurrection of the Lord clearly shows this to us, and it follows that, even in suffering, it is becoming a reality that the Lord transforms everything.
An embrace and a prayer from all of us for the eternal rest of Fr. Antonio César. As well as our affection to his family in Pozoblanco (Spain) and wherever they are, to the beloved Province of AFO to which he belonged and to the Province of Maria Auxiliadora in Spain where he learned to love Don Bosco and to live like him.
With true affection,
Fr. Ángel Fernández A., SDB
Siria – The challenge to be both a good Salesian and a happy Salesian
(ANS - Aleppo) - Andrew Mulumba Chishimba is a 25-year-old Salesian in formation, a native of Zambia, but since last September he has begun his missionary service in the community of Aleppo, Syria. Today he shares his experience and the challenge and lessons learned so far with ANS.
Vatican – "Christmas Contest" gives voice to young people and their music
(ANS - Vatican City) - On Wednesday 28 April, in the Marconi Hall of Vatican Radio, the press conference was held for the presentation of the "Christmas Contest", a music competition sponsored by the Italian Society of Authors and Publishers (SIAE) and promoted by “Missioni Don Bosco” and the Pontifical Gravissimum Educationis Foundation. The initiative, in support of the charity project "Congo is the heart of Africa - help us make it beat", includes a singing competition aimed at young people aged between 16 and 35, called to propose an unpublished song on the Christmas theme, and to compete to perform, together with the great artists of Italian and international music, at the Christmas concert 2021 in the Vatican. The Rector Major of the Salesians, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, also spoke at the press conference.
Great Britain – “Don’t forget the fun - it's holy!”
(ANS – London) – Play is sacred and essential at all ages. It is the place where we waste time, explore and forget the past and the future. That is why it revives the soul, brings perspective and tops up humour. Play with others whether in sport or in hobbies puts everyone on the same level as human beings. It is a holy thing to do.
MESSAGES OF THE RECTOR MAJOR
THE TRUE RESURRECTION
The one that touches peoples’ lives and transforms them
My friends, readers of the Salesian Bulletin, I greet you again with all cordiality by means of this Salesian magazine founded by Don Bosco himself. It was his intention to use this bulletin to convey to the laity the reality of his young Salesian Congregation, which sought to be faithful to God as it was growing little by little. As we read in the 1877 issue, it "is published to give a report of things done or to be done according to the purpose of the Salesian mission, which is the care of souls and the good of civil society."