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22/9/2015 - Sierra Leone - “My country needs missionaries, but I learnt that mission has no borders!”

(ANS – Freetown) – Fr José Hernández Andrade Ubaldini is a Venezuelan Salesian missionary. He has been in Sierra Leone since 2000 and is currently director and parish priest of Don Bosco Fambul in Freetown. In the missionary magazine Cagliero 11 he gives his testimony:

There are two elements in my desire to be a missionary. The first is that I think my missionary vocation was formed in my heart and in my mind long before I was aware of events of my life. My mother belongs to the Legion of Mary, and I remember that before learning the catechism, she took me to give food to the hungry, comfort and hope to those who were sick. Gradually I began to understand that to be a Christian means to leave the house, to go out to meet and share with others, even the little we had.

The second is that during my childhood and my youth I had the grace of knowing many missionaries who profoundly marked me with their example of life, up to the point of wanting to imitate them: Spanish, Italian, Polish, Irish, Egyptians, Colombians, Argentinians, etc. who were plumbers, teachers, cooks, psychologists, mechanics, nurses or musicians.

But above all, they were men and women who love Jesus and others and they have left everything to serve. They left their homeland and came to help, to live with us, to mourn and laugh, sing and pray, to walk and grow. Through their lives they shared with us a great news, the news of Jesus. Through them I had my missionary vocation, I want to imitate their lives, their good works, their sacrifices, dedication and perseverance. I always want to love as they have loved.

Africa is a mysterious land where pain and sadness are always at our doors. Many young people have been pushed into a life of survival, disease, injustice, danger and death. In the midst of this reality my greatest joy has been to discover the loving and merciful action of God; and realize that the more I try to evangelize, it is I who am actually evangelized even more!

Certainly, many ask: “Venezuela needs also missionaries, why go to Africa?” This is a difficult question. Surely Venezuela, the land that I love, needs missionaries; but gradually I learnt that life is our mission and that mission has no borders, that our life is based on the call of Christ who sends us.

How much joy I experienced in serving my people, but I felt that the Lord was asking me to go to the furthest corner, so that those who do not know Him yet may encounter Him.

To Salesians who want to be missionaries, especially those of South America, I want to say: let us be attentive to the Lord’s missionary call ad gentes and let us allow ourselves be led by His Spirit! Let us not forget that our father Don Bosco always dreamt of being a missionary.

Published 22/09/2015

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