It was 1955 when, as a young Salesian, he landed in Yokohama. Today he is 90 years of age, 65 years of mission, all spent in Japan, and 62 years of priesthood. "I had the grace to meet Don Cimatti personally," recalls Fr Compri with a smile. This connection with the "Don Bosco of Japan" has never been interrupted. Fr Compri became vice-postulator of his beatification cause, curator and Director until a few weeks ago of the museum dedicated to the venerable. He is also the author of Vincenzo Cimatti, the autobiography he did not write, a book resulting from a long and meticulous consultation of more than 10,000 documents, mostly by the hand of Msgr. Cimatti.
"We are waiting for a miracle to happen for the beatification," he adds. "He was very humble and I think it is necessary to insist to convince him to do so."
In his years of missionary activity, the 90-year-old Salesian has been a teacher and dean of Salesian schools and institutes, director of orphanages, collaborator of the Salesian publishing house in Tokyo, author of more than 30 Japanese texts including six of them on the Holy Shroud, of which he is an indefatigable popularizer among the Japanese. For more than two years, he also edited a television show where he presented the Old and New Testaments in simple form: "But what matters most," he says amused, "is that in the end the host of the transmission, her husband and children were all baptized."
We ask Fr Compri for his key to reading Covid-19. "Our Lord dominates and guides history, which is a history of salvation," he says. "Even this event must also have a meaning and an implication for the good of man. This time is in a certain sense inviting us to take our life back in hand, to recognize our limits, to recover the centrality of the person and the family in the conscience of individuals and ruling classes and, finally, to ask ourselves about the meaning and purpose of our existence. It seems to me a favorable time to go back to God."
These themes are dear to the Salesian priest and have been the guiding thread of his missionary work among the Japanese, believers and non-believers. "By now it seems to me that the whole world tends to remove and avoid these topics, but Japanese society in particular, all organized and oriented towards efficiency obtained through the application of standardized procedures to learn and execute, does not help the person to reflect and think deeply ... In my books, I describe reality, ask questions and propose the Christian answer."