Mexican Missionary Fr Gabriel Cruz speaks a little about his missionary life thus far.
I've been in Lahore, Pakistan, for almost a year. It is a very complete Salesian work: with a boarding, primary and secondary school, technical school, Saturday oratory and many other activities. There are just three Salesians who run this presence. We have about 200 children and young people living with us or participating in our educational activities and services.
I must say God took his own time time preparing me for this work! I sent my first letter to the Rector Major, offering myself as a missionary (ad gentes) immediately after my first religious profession, over 21 years ago. It was in 2016, 10 years into my priesthood that I received the permission to go to Pakistan... but then I had to wait another two years for my visa. During the years of my formation and early Salesian life I begun to understand that the mission God entrusts us with is not just in the future, nor in a distant country. The mission is precisely the time and place we live every day, the service of generous dedication to the young and to the people around us, the shared life in community and especially prayer. The Salesian mission is in the present. Life is always a mission, a service, an apprenticeship.
I realized that every mission has prepared me for what I am doing now, here in Pakistan, and that this beautiful mission will prepare me for the next one, in the time and place that God points out to me. One of the virtues that I had to strengthen in this period of preparation and expectation was undoubtedly "patience"; patience which then helped me and indeed, forced me to grow in obedience and faith.
Now I am very happy here in Pakistan, because my life as a Salesian priest only makes sense among children and young people; here I am surrounded by them. I am happy that my religious community, my brother Salesians, Fr. Noble and Bro. Bernard, have welcomed me with open arms, regardless of the differences in customs, culture, language and thought. I am happy because God gives me the opportunity to continue to grow as a human being and to continue to learn to be a Salesian.
Have you thought about becoming a Salesian brother or priest? Would you simply like more information?