RMG – Testimonies of life from senior Salesians: Don Segundo Manuel Cabrera Arevalo speaks from the ‘Source Course

30 May 2024

(ANS – Rome) – The second ‘senior’ Salesian who shared his story and missionary experience with the other elderly missionaries, as part of the ‘Return to the Sources Course’ organised by the Missions Sector in this month of May 2024, was Fr Segundo Manuel Cabrera Arevalo. 84 years of age, 66 years of Salesian life and 44 as a priest, Fr Cabrera is originally from Ecuador and is one of the few missionaries who has served in his own country, as he has worked with the indigenous communities there.

Fr Cabrera, young in spirit and with great enthusiasm even in spite of his age, came from a very humble family: his mother was a housewife and his father worked as a miner. ‘With this work he managed to buy a piece of land and built a house on it,’ he gratefully shared.

His vocation emergedn when he was still a child, a fifth-grader at the Salesian school in the city of Limón. ‘It was the Salesians who took the initiative to invite me to the experience of being a Salesian aspirant. And my father gave his assent’ he recalled many years later.

‘My mission field was in the context of the indigenous peoples, especially among the Achuar and Schuar. My service among the indigenous peoples has been varied and has involved both the first evangelisation of certain groups, and catechesis and oratories,' he recounted. He has been Director of several missionary works - Zambagua, Sevilla Don Bosco, Bomboiza and Taisha - and is still parish priest at the Sevilla Don Bosco work.

For him, as for everyone, the religious and missionary life has not spared unforeseen events and difficulties, which in his case showed up especially in the initial phase, during his studies: it took him nine years to be ordained a priest, but in the end he overcame everything and managed to complete his studies.

At the same time, there were also many joys: education and evangelisation of children and indigenous communities; as well as the profound ones of seeing the causes of beatification open for four missionaries who worked in Ecuador, including Blessed Sister Maria Troncatti, Daughter of Mary Help of Christians, an Italian missionary originally from Brescia, who was also active as a nurse in the communities where she served.

Without forgetting the past that brought him so far, Fr Cabrera still has the energy of someone who looks ahead and plans for the future: in his community he works with his confreres to start experimenting with the initiatives proposed by Pope Francis through the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation ‘Querida Amazonia’, to instruct and educate people and pastoral workers to understand and accept the challenge of the synodal Church: a challenge that starts first of all with listening and dialogue.


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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