Dear Salesian Family and Salesian Young People,
I write this message full of gratitude, joy and hope for our Province.
Today is the 25th of February and it is the Feast Day of the Salesian martyrs Bishop Aloysius Versiglia and Father Callistus Caravario. It was on this day
in 1930 that both lost their lives through martyrdom in Shiuchow, China.
On the way to their pastoral visit to the Linchow mission with young catechists, boys and girls, their boat was stopped by pirates who wanted to abduct the girls in the group. Bishop Aloysius and Fr. Callistus obstructed
the pirates with all the force they could muster, were forcibly taken and
eventually shot. Before they were killed they would hear each other’s confession. The catechists with them were able to escape and would testify
to their saintliness and martyrdom. Paul Vi declared them Martyrs in 1976
and John Paul II declared them Blessed in 1983 and canonized them Saints
From a personal perspective, the portrait included in this message is that of Bishop Versiglia giving a haircut to Fr. Carlo Braga, also a Salesian missionary to China at that time. As a high school aspirant (Salesian seminarian) in the Philippines I would have the honor and privilege of having Fr. Braga as confessor until his death in 1971. Perhaps it was the missionary spirit that the early Salesians lived but we knew then that Fr. Braga, just like Bishop Aloysius and Fr. Callistus, was a great and saintly man. Literally I remember many of us wondering if we could have access and take something, a relic, from this gentle and zealous Salesian. The cause for beatification and canonization of this Servant of God, Fr. Carlo Braga, was launched in 2014.
And perhaps, as a gift from God and of Don Bosco, and through the intercession of Bishop Aloysius and Fr. Callistus on their Feast Day, a Salesian missionary from Hong Kong, Fr. Peter Pong, was interviewed and received his R-1 Visa approval yesterday (February 25th in Hong Kong) to come to California and join our SUO Province. We thank the Congregation and the CIN Province for this beautiful gift. We welcome Fr. Peter in our Province and thank him for saying yes. The Salesian missionary spirit continues to bless us and the people of God, especially the young, we serve.
I encourage all of us to reflect on how we can continue to live our Salesian missionary spirit in the service of the young. Yes, there is so much work to be done but nevertheless God continues to show us how much He loves us, by showering upon us blessings to further His Church’s mission. My hope and prayer is that as Salesians, consecrated and lay, and with openness and trust, we renew our commitment to the Salesian mission to the young.
Thank you and God bless you always.
Sincerely in Christ,