Sri Lanka – “My missionary life is a gift from God”

19 December 2017

(ANS – Kotadeniyawa) – Missionary testimonies are the source of new missionary vocations. This is the experience of many Salesians. And this is also the experience of Faustin Bahati, a Congolese Salesian missionary in Sri Lanka: “When I was a student at the Salesian school, I read the story of the first Salesian missionaries in my country. Their testimonies appealed a lot to me. They have contributed greatly to the evangelization and the social life of my people. I felt inspired. I began to personally discern a missionary vocation in my own heart. I felt deep within me a call to Salesian life and, during my novitiate, I expressed my desire to be a missionary ad gentes, ad vitam”.

I was closely accompanied by my spiritual guide during my three years of philosophy. I wrote to the Rector Major to express my readiness for the mission. The missionary theme of that year became my daily prayer: "Lord, send me". I thank the Lord for calling me to the 146th Missionary Expedition (2015) and to be a missionary in Sri Lanka.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is a vast country and Salesians are not present everywhere. They are needed in many more areas of the country. With such a need for internal missionaries, the question arises why one should become a foreign missionary. The Salesian Congregation is missionary. It offers us the possibility of being a missionary in our own country or abroad because we belong to the great Salesian world. I felt the call of sharing my Christian and Salesian life with others wherever the Lord would send me.

As a missionary in Sri Lanka, my first assignment is to do my practical training (regency) in the studentate of philosophy. I feel great joy whenever we go out to meet the young people in a completely Buddhist village. This is our Sunday ministry. How nice it is to see Buddhist parents accompany their children to our oratory. We deal with the children and young people in a Salesian way and teach them a little English. I am happy to give myself to this missionary apostolate and I feel warmly welcomed. Sri Lankans are known for their genuine and spontaneous smile. It is really an oratory of joy, despite their material poverty.

I come from a culture very different from that in this part of the world. The daily diet consists of rice and spicy sauces; different local languages; bare feet in the church (temple, house) ... These are small challenges that I will gradually overcome in order to learn and appreciate this new culture. The missionary course in Rome taught us to be patient when experiencing "cultural shocks". Personal prayer helps me overcome my personal challenges.

To young Salesians who would like to become ad gentes missionaries, I would say, we must always remember that a missionary vocation is a gift from God, who wants us to continue his mission all over the world. When we feel called to the missionary life, we give an immediate and positive response, because it is God’s own initiative in our regard.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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