What did your work consist of?
The service I gave was extremely nice and peculiar. It essentially consisted of a life of continuous encounters between people: with the missionaries who came to Turin-Valdocco to present the needs of the poorest and ask for help; and with our benefactors to make known the needs of the mission and to reach out to… “ask for charity”.
What do you think is the most important result achieved? What challenges do you leave to Fr Antúnez?
I struggle to indicate one specific result, as if the service were a match with a goal to reach. Coordinating the Mission Office was not a job for me, but a "mission".
To Fr Daniel Antúnez I cede the testimony of an activity-in-progress, projected towards a horizon of intense relationships with our benefactors, which need to be increasingly more personalized. It is in the personal relationship, characterized by the Family Spirit that Don Bosco taught us, that he will have to measure himself.
During your tenure you visited many missions. Which episode struck you most?
I have met many Salesian confreres and have seen them work in the field. Their testimony is moving: they are working real miracles!
Among the works that struck me most was a meeting in one of our vocational training centers in Vietnam. The manager of a commercial enterprise said that he willingly hires children qualified at the Salesian school for three reasons: they do not steal, they obey the boss, they know how to work as a team. A nicer compliment, addressed to our educational service, we could not receive.
What are the “secrets” to successfully carrying out this mission?
Raising funds to support Salesian works in mission lands is to lend a hand to Providence so that God's care for humanity finds concreteness. More than "secrets" I would speak of "behaviour". First of all, you must be humble and acknowledge that what you are doing is the work of God. Then, be sincere and transparent, presenting the real needs of the poorest, and not what you like most. Finally, be grateful.
Has the pandemic sapped or rekindled generosity?
The pandemic has frightened us all, but generosity has not decreased, because we've felt more "humane" and supportive. Specifically, our benefactors made themselves present in a strong and often moving way. Of this, we must give praise to God.
Do you want to share something else?
I wish to thank. It is much more what I have received than what I have been able to modestly donate. And I conclude by quoting Don Bosco: "God bless and reward all our benefactors".