Be Watchful

By: Fr. Randy Figuracion, SDB

A five-year old boy walks into his parents’ room to kiss them good night. His dad has just finished reading his bible. He asked: “Dad, what are you reading?” His dad replied: “Son, I’m reading the book of Revelation, the last book of the bible.” “And what’s it about” came another curious question. Dad looks at him and explains: “It’s about God’s final battle against evil!” Excitedly, the boy sat beside his dad and inquired: “And who won?” The father stooped down to his boy’s eye level and informed him: “God won!”

We are entering a new season and a new year in the Church: the Season of Advent! We begin a new countdown of Jesus’ historical birth – his first visit on Christmas. But we know the story; we know the outcome – God won. We are saved! We’re simply awaiting the final results.

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Making A Difference

Shining Model of Salesian Missionary – Fr. Peter Zago (1935-2017)

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1935: Italy: January 5 – born near Padova, Perosa Argentina

1953: August 16 – first profession SDB

1963: Italy: March 25 – ordained priest SDB

1969: Philippines, Cebu: Boys Home (DBTC)

1976: Philippines, Manila: Don Bosco Tondo (Parish, VTC, social work)

1981: Philippines: Cebu – Boys Home (DBTC)

1990: Papua New Guinea (PNG): Vunabosco (archdiocese of Rabaul)

1992-1997: FIS – first provincial of the new province (Cebu, Timor Leste, Indonesia)

1998-2013: Pakistan – Quetta

2013-2016: Pakistan – Lahore

2016-2017: Italy

 

Grateful for Fr. Zago’s 83 years of life

  • 64 years of Salesian religious life
  • 62 years of missionary life
  • 54 years of Salesian priesthood for the young

 

In the afternoon of 2nd January 2018 the funeral and Eucharist celebration was held for Fr. Peter at Perosa Argentina, a small town of 3000 inhabitants, 60 km from Turin, Italy).

Salesian provincials (FIS, FIN, ITM, PGS, ICP), many FMA sisters, VDB members, many Don Bosco Past Pupils (especially from Cebu and Quetta) and Salesian Cooperators share their thoughts.

“Greetings and thanks about information about passing way of Fr Peter Zago. Yesterday we celebrated the Indonesia – Timor Leste Provincial Day in Fatumaca and offered our intention that God may receive him in his Kingdom.” Fr. Apolinario Neto (Provincial ITM)

  1. Give thanks God for giving us such a great model of a Salesian missionary

‘We give thanks for his example of enthusiasm and dynamism; his optimism, joy and great trust in Divine Providence; his warm approach to the young and our lay collaborators; his generosity to everyone especially the poor and those in need, very close to his heart; above all his cheerful countenance and great devotion to the Blessed Mother; all these that really describe him as an excellent Salesian Missionary (Fr. Godo Atienza, Provincial Philippines – Cebu)

‘Big thanks, Fr Zago …you’re one of the big reasons why I am now a Salesian missionary priest.’ From India to Brasile, Salesians remember him as a true model of missionary zeal!

  1. Give thanks to God for his availability for the Salesian Missions as a Pioneer

Probably not all of us here are even completely aware about the full extent of Fr. Peter’s availability for the sakes of the Salesian Mission. This obedience to the call brought him to many different countries – as a young Salesian from Italy to India; then as Salesian Priest to be among the pioneers of many important houses in the Philippines – in Tondo (slum area of Manila), in Don Bosco Technical High School and Don Bosco Boys Town in Cebu; as missionary in Papua New Guinea (founder of Vunabosco community and school) and at the end also the founder of Quetta in Pakistan. Last but not the least, during his 6 years as the Superior of FIS province (Philippines South) extending in Timor Leste, Indonesia and Southern islands of the Philippines. Fr. Peter was a tool of founding many new presences in all 3 countries.

  1. Give thanks God for his great zeal to promote and accompany Salesian Vocations

To be a Salesian Pioneer missionary means many things – not only to raise up with great sacrifice the necessary infrastructures of Don Bosco schools, dormitory, workshop and other necessary buildings. First of all it means to share the Gospel with the heart of Don Bosco, to share the Charism of Don Bosco, his Preventive System and Spirituality But most important, to sow the seeds of Salesian vocations – SDB, FMA, VDB and Salesian Cooperators.

One senior Salesians shared: “I thank Fr Peter for his way of guiding me as a young Rector then, giving me time for a one-on-one conference, where I learned much of how fatherly he is and how accommodating he can be just to be able to accompany me. He writes me personal notes on special occasions to remind me of my Salesian commitment as a consecrated person, and to continue to do well despite challenges and discomforts.”

One Salesian missionary priest shares the accompaniment in moments of vocation crisis: “…in 1995, I submitted to him a letter to leave the Congregation, just 5 years after my perpetual profession as Salesian Brother. He listened to me, then put my letter under the statue of Mary Help of Christians. After few months I postponed my decision to leave the Congregation…So I remain as Salesian, thanks to Fr. Zago’s trust to Mary Help of Christian”.

  1. Give thanks to God for his great passion as a Salesian Educator especially for the Poor

Fr. Peter is alive in the memories of many young people, now Alumni in the Philippines, who treasure his Educative and apostolic charity in action:

“Fr. Zago picked me up from among the boys in the city streets (1969) and molded me to become a good Christian and a successful professional. You have been always my inspiration (one of Don Bosco Cebu Alumni who served for 20 years as Treasurer of the Association)

“Fr. Zago used to play football with the students wearing white cassock – a preventive strategy that he said kept students occupied. He wanted us to be active, not idle. He would kicked the ball to your direction if he saw you doing nothing. … He taught me the basics of football when I was grade 4. The talent and knowledge I learned from him got me a university scholarship that allowed me to graduate in College. We will miss him!”

One of his boarders in Cebu: “We always loved Fr. Peter’s way of dealing with us boarders and aspirants. For sure (each of us could) tasted being kicked with a ball if we stayed idle in a corner.. Yes, we cherish the memory of our rector, Fr. Zago playing football during the noon breaks surrounded by some 200 boys playing with him.” 

  1. Give thanks to God for his tireless effort as true son of Don Bosco

During the past 20 years in Pakistan, Fr. Peter became known to many Salesian Mission Agencies – Mission Offices (Bonn, Madrid, Torino, New Rochelle) for his tireless work to reach the poor young people, both inside and outside of Don Bosco. With the help of many humble benefactors and lay mission partners he was able to reach out to the victims of earthquakes and floods, the Afghan refugee schools in Quetta and to many poor young people — Muslims and Christians.

Fr Peter will not rest … not even in heaven… he is busy setting up a new Vocation Training Center… or another Oratory for the poor… He is a true model for us all!  One with you all in prayer!” (Mons. Luciano Capelli, DD – Bishop of Solomon Islands – Gizo)

“Our deepest gratitude to our beloved founder of the Philippine-South Province and the Pakistan mission! On a personal note, thank you, dear Fr Peter, for patiently mentoring me! Enjoy your deserved reward in the Father’s house and pray for us.” (Mons. Patrick Buzon, DD – Bishop of Bacolod – Philippines

“Fr. Peter Zago started the work at the Don Bosco Technical School. He is still remembered by the first students of DB Vunabosco and by the people of Rabaul. May he rest in peace!” Mons. Francesco Panfilo, DD – Bishop of Rabaul – Papua New Guinea)

“May Fr Peter be eternally happy. May all the saints welcome him in heaven. May he intercede for all of us. May we learn from him. May we remember him always. May his life continue bringing abundant fruits”.

We pray that Don Bosco welcome Fr. Peter now in the Salesian Garden in Heaven!

We pray that he may continue to be for us an icon of a dedicated Salesian Missionary!

Truly, you have been a Don Bosco in our midst. Surely, you now enjoy a special place in heaven. Continue to guide the Salesian work in the South of the Philippines where you have been very dedicated. Thank you for everything.

THANKS! TENK YU TRU! SALAMAT! GRAZIE! SHUKRAN! OBRIGADO BARAK!