For our Lenten reflections this year, in partnership with our Mission Office, we have taken the theme for Salesian Mission Day 2017. We will be returning to the roots of the Salesian missionary vocation by learning more about our missionary presence with the indigenous peoples of America. This week, we consider the Salesian presence in Latin America - past, present and future, see what life is like for the Chinanteco people of Mexico, and look at the evangelising role of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
What inflamed the missionary zeal of Don Bosco was the knowledge that many souls risked dying without baptism and be eternally lost. The purpose of the mission, according to theology then, was not to preach the Kingdom or implant the Church, but to go to save souls.
The stories of missionary adventures filled pages and pages of the Salesian Bulletin, causing readers to think that a large number of religious were dedicated to this task. But the reality was different: the Salesian work in Latin America was essentially urban. Even with large waves of migrants, in the late nineteenth century, the demographic situation of the continent was not substantially changed, the percentage of indigenous people was still very high, especially in the Andes, Central America and Mexico, but the Salesians did not work with them. The objects of their efforts were “primitive” groups, which were, statistically, a very low percentage in the world of indigenous Americans.