Belgium – At the service of Don Bosco in the world: the experience of a lay missionary

14 February 2019

(ANS – Bruxelles) – Colette Shaumont is a lay missionary imbued with the spirit of Don Bosco, who has just left Belgium to reach her destination land, Rwanda. “With God's blessings and the joy of Don Bosco we’ll make it a fruitful cooperation that embodies the dream of the Congregation of Don Bosco to fully share the mission with lay people,” she said. Here she shares her journey and the process of missionary discernment.

For 18 years I worked in the Don Bosco Formation Center of the province of BEN (Belgium and the Netherlands) and the last 8 years as responsible of the service. I have immersed myself in the life and charism of Don Bosco. It was my job, together with my team, to update Don Bosco's spirit and approach and pass it on in all our Salesian works to the many lay people engaged in the province. We did that with a lot of enthusiasm and creativity. Throughout those years Don Bosco has become much more for me than a 'job'. Gradually it grew into a calling and a choice of my life. Put myself at service where he needed me was what I promised to Don Bosco.

Over the past years, the African province of AGL has invited me twice, each time for a month, to share my knowledge about Don Bosco and his pedagogical approach through a number of training programs for lay people and Salesians. It was a unique opportunity to get to know this young province in full development. In the meantime, I started a project with them to set up a center for ongoing formation for AGL, adapted to local needs.

But more was happening ... Throughout the collaboration and contacts, my engagement for AGL grew into a calling from Don Bosco to enter into a new life commitment. I realized that this Salesian context in full Salesian enthusiasm needed me. Did I dare to leave my work, family, friends, activities and commitments, ... in short, my whole life in Europe? Could I put my person and acquired expertise as a lay missionary at the service of this province in full expansion? My head did not know very well what to answer but my heart said yes!

Through consultation and with the help of the two provincials (BEN and AGL) this choice was further clarified and converted into a concrete cooperation and mission. In the future I will coordinate the Project Development Center of AGL and also commit myself to Salesian formation programs and social communication. The province of BEN supports me to make it administratively and financially possible. A beautiful and powerful sign of solidarity and cooperation in the Congregation across all borders. Many thanks, dear brothers in Don Bosco!

On January 18th I was blessed and sent in a celebration in the community of Oud-Heverlee where I have worked all those years. On January 26 I said goodbye to family, friends, colleagues and the Salesian family in Belgium. On 27 January I was warmly welcomed in AGL, Kigali Rwanda, to start my mission.

I entrust all the rest to my dear father Saint John Bosco and my dear mother the Virgin Mary Help of Christians!


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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