Mongolia – Attracted by Project Africa poster - start of Missionary vocation

08 January 2020

(ANS – Ulaanbataar) – Cl. Felix Almeida is a young Salesian in Formation originally from India, in the Salesian Mumbai Province. At just 25 years of age, he has already gone missionary ad gentes for one of the Salesian missionary frontiers: Mongolia, a destination he discovered on 29 September in Turin, when he participated in the 150th Salesian Missionary Expedition.

How did your faith and Salesian vocation journey start?

My journey in the faith began in my family. It is here that I experienced and learnt what it means to love God and pray. However, just like many young people, I too had my own share of doubts and then I felt that God was just a figment of my imagination. I even spent a year and more as an agnostic. But as I look back I realize that it was the Lord who allowed this to happen only to find me closer to Him at the end.

My Salesian vocation journey began as an altar server back home in my Salesian Parish. I was blessed with the presence of wonderful, generous and holy Salesians who helped me grow and nurtured this seed of the Salesian vocation. 

What do you bring with you from the vibrant Catholic community in your home place - India? 

I was blessed with this faith as a child, however, I only realized the meaning and joy of this Christian vocation when it was challenged. I enjoyed my faith as a child reading the Bible and the life of saints. Going to church and participating in the many activities that were organized, I grew up in this beautiful and meaningful Catholic tradition. As I grew physically my spiritual growth was also taken care of. Thus, I feel obliged to say even though I believe that our faith is something deeply personal, it cannot grow and be understood better without a truly loving Christian community which supports and believes in the words of our Saviour.   

What do you appreciate most in the Salesian mission in your homeland? 

I was blessed to know and also live for some time with Salesian missionaries who left their own country to let us know about the unconditional love of our Saviour. I must say that the confreres back in my province truly inspired me to work for the young and especially the poor. I am truly indebted to many of them for having inspired me and for even taking care of me and helping me grow in this conviction of working for the neediest. In particular, I loved and enjoyed working in the YaR (Youth at Risk) apostolate.   

How did you discern the Salesian missionary vocation ad gentes? 

I can’t trace back as to when I felt called to this call of the ‘ad gentes’; however, when I look back and think of it, I still remember the day when I actually felt called to be a Salesian. It was during a camp, when I first entered the aspirantate and I remember being attracted to this poster ‘Project Africa’ stuck on the wall. I still feel the freshness of this episode in my life. There was something that happened with me and my poor vocabulary is insufficient to explain this very special event. So, to sum it up, I feel that my Salesian vocation was never something different from my missionary vocation. In fact, I feel that the two aspects are embedded and are as one for me.  

Any expectations or dreams about your mission land of Mongolia? 

Sincerely, when I heard for the first time about 'Mongolia' as my destination, I was a bit scared but it was accompanied with a deep sense of surrender knowing that it is the Lord who goes before me. And so just like Genghis Khan conquered the world, I would say that this mission, the confreres and the people of Mongolia have already begun conquering my heart. Here I also feel privileged to be a part of the Vietnam province which has given so many missionaries to our Salesian world. And so more than anything else, I look forward to a wonderful experience of learning and growth.


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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