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Immersion in a different culture to Discern my Salesian Vocation

by pre novice Thomas Warwara

After my aspirantate at the Savio Haus and a year of apostolic experience in DBTS Gabutu, I applied to be a pre-novice. I was sent to the inter-provincial Pre-Noviciate Formation Program in Cebu, Philippines. As part of this program we were sent two by two for eight weeks in six different Salesian settings of the Philippine South Province. I was sent with a Filipino pre-novice to Don Bosco Youth Centre (DBYC) in Pasil which is a parish, youth centre and a training centre. Through this immersion experience I had three main realisations which strengthened my vocational choice to be a Salesian.

First, my Salesian community experience made me realise that to be a happy Salesian priest or lay brother who is working and living in a community, one must cultivate the art of humility, mutual acceptance, good communication skills and relationship as well as the capacity to sacrifice one’s own motivations and ideas for the common good of the community.

Second, my experience of accompanying different organised youth activities in DBYC Pasil made me realise that Don Bosco’s charism and the Preventive System of education are helping a lot of young people around the world. Even though I had great difficulty in communicating with the young due to my lack of knowledge of the local language, I slowly managed to effectively communicate with them. The two days of retreat with the technical trainees at the Don Bosco Retreat House, Mantalongon and the celebration of all the Salesian youth centres in Cebu gave me the chance to be with the young, especially playing and praying with them which gave me that inner joy even though I was tired.

Third, I developed self-confidence to share my talents with the young. I was able to recruit students for the musical animation of the weekly school Mass. I taught them new Mass songs and they, in turn, taught me some songs in their local language and helped me to have an insight of their culture. I also managed to teach Futsal to the boys which was something totally new for many of them. During our farewell program I received many thank you letters for teaching them a new game that they can play if there are not enough basketball courts available in DBYC Pasil. This gave me a great sense of fulfilment.

Looking back at my immersion experience, I am truly grateful because it gave me a new perspective in my Salesian vocational discernment. It reminded the words of Jesus that those who want to follow him must give up everything, family, properties and friends but will receive a hundred fold in return.

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