Japan – Fr Achille Loro Piana, SDB, witness to growth of Missionary Culture in EAO region

13 December 2019

(ANS – Tokyo) – Fr Achille Loro Piana celebrates 50 years of missionary life at the service of the youth of Japan this year. He has calculated to have taken over a thousand flights in his life to attend Salesian events in the East Asia-Oceania region and is a profound connoisseur of Salesian reality and missionary commitment in this part of the world. "More Japanese than the Japanese," the Italian Salesian Bulletin once described him. In this interview, he speaks in full about the missionary animation and its challenges.

Yours has been a long journey of missionary animation. Could you tell us one most treasured experience?

A beautiful experience is the chance to have met some of the great missionaries in our region: Card. Zen, Fr Acquistapace in Hong Kong, Fr Nicosia in Macau. Bishop Capelli in Tetere and Gizo (Solomon Islands). Fr Barbero Valeriano in PNG. Fr Zago in Rabaul and Cebu. Fr Facchinelli in Korea. Fr Carbonell in Indonesia. Fr Varengo and Bro. Quaranta in Australia. And this is just to mention a few. I also met a good number of young missionaries, especially from the Philippines, Vietnam and India, who are doing great work to spread the Gospel in our EAO.

You have witnessed the steady progress of Missionary Animation (MA) in the East Asia - Oceania region and in the whole congregation. How do you feel about it? 

Yes, I can say that there has been steady progress in MA in the region especially in the area of communication and formation. At Parañaque a good number of young confreres of the region have received and are receiving good Salesian formation: besides, over there they learn English and get many new friends. I feel happy for that. We can see the fruit in several provinces, especially in Vietnam, Indonesia, East Timor, PNG and Solomon Islands, but also in Mongolia and Samoa. Unfortunately, the same thing cannot be said of my province... Especially thanks to BoscoLink and to the EAO Regional's meticulous care, communication in our region has reached a remarkable level.

EAO Missionary Animation Delegates have come together annually since 2014. What are the main fruits of this recent period?

It was not so before, but since 2014 the EAO missionary animation delegates gather every year in a convenient and nice venue of the region. Sihanoukville and Dili have been wonderful places for our meetings. The best fruits are the sharing of our experiences in MA and the friendship between the members. These fruits encourage us to be good mission animators in our provinces and provide each other with hints and ideas for our animation work. Another fruit is the presence in our provinces of missionary confreres and young volunteers from all over the region. Their presence enriches the provinces and keeps them spiritually united.

What are the challenges for Missionary Animation in the EAO?

I think that every province has to face its own peculiar challenges. Situation and atmosphere are different as the stone of a mosaic are different in colour ad sides: but the picture of the EAO is that of a beautiful and loving region, rich of a great and promising variety of people and cultures. In my province, I find difficult to make the confreres interested and involved in missionary animation.

What is important for the formation of newly-appointed Provincial Delegates for Missionary Animation (PDMA)?

Perhaps what is most important for a newly appointed PDMA is to foster interest and concern for others and for others’ problems. I see, especially in my province, that many confreres are really committed to their mission, but cannot think of anything else besides their own work. Besides, to be able to understand English and to express oneself in comprehensible English is a challenge that has been underlined also by Fr MC George in our last meeting in Dili.

You have taken part in many regional meetings. (1082 flights). Any advice for the participants and moderators?

I have seen many and skillful moderators, but I was not able to become one. I have to apologize for that and I don’t think I can give any good advice. I really feel grateful to them for their skill, sacrifice and commitment.

Free sharing: dream or wish or prayer?

These recent years, at the end of our meetings, I always said goodbye to participants saying: “and, as I said last time, this is the last time for me to show up……” But, who knows what’s going to happen next time? Anyway, I pray for the birth of a good successor and I wish that in our meetings there might be also time for some pleasant jokes to cheer up the assembly, as we did in the meetings for translators (Dalat 2014) and for missionary animation (Sihanoukville 2018). A smile and good laughter are wonderful means to make the Good News “attractive”, as Pope Francis tells us when speaking of evangelization.

Source: AustraLasia


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