Ernest, tell us your journey of faith and vocational discernment…
Well! Primarily, God has been close to me and I always testify to this. As far as I can recall, it was in the period when I was in my high school that my faith took a good shape. This feeling and desire was being nurtured by prayers, self-introspection and openness to the Holy Spirit. Then I took a step through all legal formation processes until I became a Salesian on 15 August 2015.
And what about the origin of your missionary vocation?
My Salesian missionary vocation started in my first year of post-novitiate in Tanzania. I found a missionary group already active, which I later joined. I was part of this group the entire period of my post-novitiate. We had systematic programs and activities in the community, such as animating prayers on every 11th of the month, watching and discussing various missionary documentaries, doing charity works in our neighbourhood and meeting more often with the Rector. Through all these activities and prayers, I recognized this call to serve as a missionary.
What makes you happy as a Salesian trainee in Kiev?
I am privileged to be part of the newly-created community where everything is just starting. We are in a place where Catholics are in the minority. Though we are trying to find our place and make a real Salesian presence, we can already say that there is a positive acceptance by the people. My presence as a practical trainee here is very useful. I have been consistent in my role as an assistant; the youth are always around me with the sense of wanting to learn. I have brought quite a number of youths to the oratory. Meanwhile, this is what makes me happy.
How do you overcome challenges as a young missionary?
Perhaps, you may already know some common challenges that I may be likely to face. However, allow me to state that there only a few challenges but hard in their impact on my life. First, it is a fact that I am an African and the first one to be part of this Rite (liturgical tradition), so you can imagine how hard it was and is for me. Many people just wonder why I came here to do what I do. Their questions of wonder however, sometimes makes me feel that I am in the wrong place even though they do not literally say it to me…. Difficulties in the liturgy and the limit in the language, though I have made good progress in learning the language. I normally overcome daily problems through resilience and prayers.
What do you learn from the young people of Kiev?
Well! I have learnt a lot from the young people of this city, to number them I may make mistakes. In brief, I have been close to almost all of them; I mean those who come to our community. I have learnt to be creative, to keep time, to think in concrete terms and to be authentic, that is, to be real.