What made you want to become a Salesian?
I became a Salesian because God made me cross across the footsteps of the Sons of Don Bosco, missionaries who came from the Ligurian-Tuscan Province to Ebolowa (Cameroon), but also thanks to my Christian family, parents, brothers and sisters of whom God surrounded me. And the mediation of a confessor and spiritual director, Fr Giovanni Bocchi, a young priest in love with young people, named Alcide Baggio, and other witnesses of Don Bosco. As soon as I met them in the diocesan seminary everything happened as in a script written by God. The novitiate of Lomé under the gaze of Fr César, whose blood was shed last year for Africa, the years of formation in Region and the Salesian Pontifical University (UPS), my beautiful experience of about 8 years as a member of the formation team in Lomé where I was trained, and in the last 5 years as Vicar, then Provincial of my home Vice Province, Tropical Equatorial Africa (ATE). A superb adventure and at the same time a beautiful school interrupted in its third year by the surprise reserved for me by an unforgettable GC28.
What do you bring with you of the GC28 experience?
GC28 has left me a deep respect for our Congregation which has just shown great determination, realism and loyalty. I left the GC28 with the pride of having recognized among my capitular confreres the conviction that God wants to touch our hearts more through a formation that is not only information but, above all, transformation of the heart. I take the lesson of humility with me in order not to presume anymore with my confreres and the CEP to complete the work since, in the end, the harvest is of the Lord, and each leaves it with the "respect" that unfinished work requires, so that the adventure with God continues, with the others yesterday, with us today and with the youngest tomorrow. GC28 allowed me to listen to the young guests who asked us for help and a declaration of love. Finally, I bring with me a new vision of the saying that "Man proposes, God disposes." I came to the GC28 as Superior of a young Vice Province and bearer of one of the 13 circumscriptions in Africa. And all the cards were re-shuffled on that famous March 13, 2020.
In these first weeks, marked by the restraints for Covid-19, what have you been able to see, know, learn about the new assignment? What do you expect for the future?
When I arrived at the Sacro Cuore headquarters, I was impressed by the fraternity that exists between the Rector Major and the members of the General Council, a fraternity that does not detract from a great need for the quality of work, performance and rigor, punctuality and collegiality. So I learned during the first few weeks of the internship; I always had Fr Chaquisse near me, or one of the members of the Council, old or new, or another confrere to assist me. The vademecum (Directory) for the General Council, revised together line by line, sector by sector, has become an indispensable tool for understanding the service that awaits me, as well as the connection with the Rector Major, the other Councilors and the Provincials. These weeks have been a period of an extraordinary collaboration between us in the Council, with the secretariat and with the Provincials of the Region and their secretariats. I hope two things for now: that the post-pandemic situation allows you to work, which for a Regional often means moving and communicating; I hope to continue learning and serving as a bridge since this is the first of the duties of a Regional Councilor pursuant to article 140 of the Constitutions.
In six years, what do you dream of for your region?
A first urgent challenge awaits us, that of continuing the restructuring of the western sub-region (AFO/AFW), but God could indicate for us to do the same on the side of Tanzania, Sudan, or Goma DRC. Secondly, in recent years I have seen admirable efforts by the Provinces to achieve greater adequacy of our schools and offerings of formation for the needs of society and the Church. With DB Tech we will greatly promote this decisive option. The same challenge may also concern the passage desired by the Framework from a simply catechetical dimension of our pastoral care towards a true education to committed faith. Finally, thinking of the houses of formation and human resources, I welcome the momentum started by my illustrious predecessors for greater solidarity between the circumscriptions of the Region, but also in exchanges with the whole Congregation.