My missionary vocation was gradually formed and nourished at various moments of my life. The seed was planted when my family migrated to Ugan-da when I was one year old and I grew up in a foreign world and foreign culture which left an indelible mark on me. Uganda had become a part of me.
When we returned to India 10 years later, I studied in a Salesian school where I came to know Don Bosco and the Salesians. My missionary vocation was nurtured from the novitiate onwards. The missionary group helped me to be in constant contact with the missionaries through their frequent visits to the formation houses to share their experiences, work and the challenges they meet.
The decisive moment was in 2006 when Fr. Pascal Chavez, then Rector Major, invited us young Salesians to be missionaries during his visit on the occasion of the centenary of Salesian presence in India. With the help of my spiritual director to discern this missionary vocation within my Salesian vocation, I finally applied to be a missionary ad exteros, ad vitam and was sent to Hungary.
As an Asian missionary in Europe, I realised that I needed to undergo first a personal conversion in a new country and culture. As a young Salesian I was able to inculturate myself easily even if I struggled to learn the language and be accustomed to the food and the climate. Yet, as a foreigner I struggled to establish new relationships and to become part of a people with a culture different from mine and make myself loved by the young. Since most of the native Hungarian Salesians were quite elderly, it was quite a challenge to adjust to the community life. I had to discover as well my role and responsibility in my new Province. It was like rediscovering one’s vocation within a vocation.
Surely India, where Christians are a small minority, has great need for missionaries. But Hungary, a country deeply marked by years of atheistic communism and now by secularism, also tremendously needs people to proclaim the Gospel in various areas of society. Today many Hungarians, especially youngsters, do not believe in anything while others have abandoned their faith. This is our missionary work ad gentes here in Hungary.
As a Salesian I strive to help them experience the love of God and the love of a father, brother and friend through a typical approach of Don Bosco: loving kindness, interpersonal relationship, sports, music, theatre, the Social media. Missionary life in this country is studded with numerous moments of joy and satisfaction. Yet, my greatest joy is to experience God working through me to touch the heart of a young person.
I would like to ask you, dear reader, to say a prayer for me, for no missionary can toil on his own. However, if you feel God is calling you, then join me!
Fr. Quadros Lytton Ervanto
Indian, missionary in Hungary