Francis Robewno, the first Burmese missionary

He is the first Salesian Missionary “ad gentes” from Myanmar, a land that until now has only received missionaries. He is aged 28 and has still to finish his formation programme, but is already aware of his missionary vocation. It came from the example of the missionaries he knew in his village. His name is Francis Robewno. During the Course for New Missionaries, he spoke to us about his experience.

Who passed on the faith to you?

My parents and my family. In my village of Mobye there are about 400 Catholic families, about 50% of the population, level with the Buddhists. This is due to the fact that the PIME Missionaries settled in this area and did a great job of evangelization.

When did you decide to consecrate your life to God?

When I was about 16 or 17, immediately after secondary school. I had been attending Church in the parish and decided to try to enter the diocesan seminary. However, I had several difficulties and I decided to wait for a year. During that time some friends of the family spoke to me about the Salesians and put me in contact with them. I had never heard of them before, but that is how it all started.

Where are you going on Mission?

I will be going to Juba in South Sudan. There I will do a third year of practical training, in addition to the two I have already done in Myanmar. I will be assisting the pre-novices. I must admit that I am going out of obedience.  I would have preferred Europe since the PIME Missionaries who worked in my country were European, but I am open to whatever God wants of me. I will go to South Sudan, get to know the situation.  I will try toadapt to that context and do the best I can.

What is the situationof Christians in your country?

The majority of the population is Buddhist, Christians are about 4% – of which, however, most are Baptists. The Constitution officially recognizes freedom of religion, but it is very difficult for example to build a church.

Why go off as a missionary, instead of evangelizing the young people of Myanmar?

I could have done that. In the two years of practical training I worked with the young people in the professional and technical school, who were mostly Catholic. Some of them are also currently interested in exploring their vocation. But I received so much from the missionaries in my country that I have a sense of gratitude. I want to give something back to the church that has done so much for us.

Source: Info ANS