I grew up in a Christian family and in a mixed environment, religious and political, which influenced the fate of all young people. I was involved in the religious activities of the Church. My engagements during secondary education began to reveal the missionary call within me. As I listened with the help of my spiritual director, it became clearer that the Lord was calling me within my heart and from a distance. From that time, whatever desire arose in my heart was viewed through the lens of the zeal for the missions.
As a Salesian missionary in Hong Kong, I face a culture different from mine. The pains of communicating in Chinese threatens my sense of humour. The hierarchical structure of society which shapes human relationships and the exercise of authority is another challenge that I struggle with. This means that there is the danger of measuring human dignity based on social status and racial background. Young vocations coming to this kind of context may suffer vocational fragility since, sometimes, it is difficult to fit these cultural realities into the religious way of life.
There are more social tensions today than ever before. Our religious communities respond to this by prayer and discernment while exercising great caution not to get involved in partisan politics. Confronted with this reality, my religious life, especially its community aspect, faces a great challenge.We were recently hit by the pandemic of Covid-19 that is threatening human lives and has brought a halt to a lot of religious and social activities. Everyone is moving in fear, fear of the unknown. These challenges are rewriting the narrative of my missionary life and affecting the way we live in the community. Young people are not exempt from this. They are restricted from living out their youthful exuberance in a joyful way. Looking at all these, I ask myself whether it is God’s finger that is writing these lines.
Despite all this, I look back and still find some reasons to be joyful. I have come to appreciate the plurality of human life which forms a splendid mosaic of God’s image and how He manifests himself in every story, in every event. God is really present in every culture. God is present in the young people no matter how tiny a voice he speaks with. I have heard it myself in the life of the young people that I have shared my life with in this place. This is my deepest joy. This joy that I find among young people is a strength for me in all challenges. I bring these challenges and joys to God in prayer and I share them with the community. While in prayer God reveals His will directly; in sharing with the community He reveals his will through the confreres.
In conclusion, I feel that confreres who are discerning their missionary vocation are already listening to the voice of Jesus calling. They are happy because they do it in openness and without fear. Difficulties will come their way, but they shall find strength in the one and only missionary of God – Jesus Christ – in whom we share one mission for the salvation of the young.