RMG – Testimonies of life from senior Salesians: Fr Luis Chamizo Fajardo's words

31 May 2024

(ANS – Rome) – 91 years of age – 92 on 10 September – Spanish Salesian Fr Luis Chamizo Fajardo was the oldest of the participants in the "Return to the Sources" course run by the Missions Sector to bring long-term missionaries who have now reached old age back to the "source" of their vocation. Yet, Fr Chamizo witnessed and passed on a childlike joy and enthusiasm to everyone, demonstrating how a heart fully rooted in the Salesian charism can be young at all ages.

When little Luis was born in 1932, Spain was almost close to the ruinous civil war that would tear the country apart. The Chamizo Fajardo family could be considered a small workshop for conciliation and dialogue, if you consider that their father was a communist, while their mother was a Catholic.

At seven years of age, the future Salesian had already tasted war and two movements – from Madrid to Albacete and back – since his father, an aeronautical mechanic, was first a commander in the Castilian city, but then with the arrival of the National Forces, had to return to Madrid to work in different companies as a freelancer.

Once again in the capital, Luis began to attend the Salesian oratory at the Ronda de Atocha, and at the age of 15, together with three other friends who served as catechists, he began a new oratory, which today is the Domingo Savio school in the district of San Blas (at the time Cerro de la Vaca).

It was at that time that he felt the vocation to serve young people in education and evangelisation through the style of Don Bosco. The first time he expressed his desire to follow this path to his father, his father did not take it well: “After a deep silence, he said to me: ‘If you ask me again, then get out by the window.’ And at that time we lived on the fourth floor..." says the 91-year-old Salesian.

For some years he waited: at the age of 22 he went into military service, and stayed there for 19 months. Then, at the end of his military service, in 1955, he made a retreat with the students of theology and finally took the big step by entering the novitiate in Mohernando, in Guadalajara, in 1956, having Fr Rómulo Piñol as his godfather, confessor and spiritual director.

The story of this senior Salesian then quickened pace: after three years of Philosophy, he obtained a dispensation to do a single year of practical training, and was ordained a priest in 1967. After his priestly ordination, he spent three years as head of studies at the Brothers aspirantate in Madrid, "San Fernando". From there he became Provincial Delegate for Vocations, a position he also held for three years.

Later, while Fr Chamizo carried out the different teaching assignments from his Provincial, his missionary vocation grew in him. Yet his superiors continued to assign him other obediences. A decision was finally made: during a trip to Salamanca, he and another Salesian, Fr Antonio Días del Pozo, wrote a letter directly to the Rector Major, at the time Fr Egidio Viganò, asking to be able to go to Bolivia. 15 days passed and the answer arrived, granting him the obedience to leave for the Andean country.

For 37 years now Fr Chamizo has been resident and active in the Our Lady of Copacabana Province of Bolivia (BOL), where he has served in numerous communities: in three works in Cochabamba, in La Paz and finally also in Santa Cruz, where he still resides. He was Rector of several of these houses and accompanied  groups of the Salesian Family:  Salesian Cooperators and Past Pupils as Provincial Delegate.

Wherever he has worked, he has brought his dedicated and attentive service to those most in need, especially young people. "Among the things of which I am most proud" he said again in his sharing "was having contributed to the foundation of the Don Bosco Popular Schools", a network that today has several profoundly Salesian works scattered throughout the country and aimed at the education of thousands of boys and girls among the most needy.

Fr Chamizo smiles, saying: "We started it, the rest was all the work of Divine Providence".


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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