To talk about my vocation, I have to remember my experience in the Comboni parish Cristo Missionario del Padre, located on the outskirts of Lima, Peru. Since I was a child and adolescent I participated with great enthusiasm in the groups of altar servers, liturgy, catechesis, and youth. I feel that my vocation to missionary religious life was born from the contact I had with the Comboni Missionaries I met there.
I was greatly impressed by their witness of life and, above all, their closeness to the people. They were priests “with the smell of sheep,” as Pope Francis says. They served the simple and poor people with great dedication, striving to be a sign of a close God. This is what attracted my attention and motivated me to want to be a missionary.
Encouraged by the witness of the Comboni Missionaries, I started a journey of deeper discernment in order to discover what God wanted for me. With many fears and doubts, but with the conviction that God would accompany me, in 2008 I entered the postulancy of the Comboni Missionaries, the first stage of formation to religious life, and I started studying philosophy.
It was a very positive experience and I was able to share my vocational concerns with young Peruvians and Chileans who had the same ideals and wanted to be missionaries in the style of St. Daniel Comboni.
Then I went to Mexico for almost two years to continue my formation process. It was the first time I left my country and had an international experience. In that period, I reaffirmed my desire to follow Jesus Christ and dedicate my life to the mission according to the charism of the Comboni Missionaries.
Therefore, in 2014 I made my first religious vows. To carry out my theological studies, my superiors assigned me to Kenya. I was in that East African country for almost four years.
Going to another continent and learning new languages was, without a doubt, a great challenge for me. As a missionary, it was necessary to open my mind and heart, strengthen my will and determination to learn from the people, and get to know their culture and customs. The daily sharing with Kenyans helped me to confirm my vocation to the religious missionary life.
After finishing my studies in Kenya, I was assigned to Asia. I spent the first year in Vietnam studying the language and then came to Taiwan to learn Chinese. It was there that I gave my life for the mission with perpetual consecration to God and ordination to the diaconate in the Comboni parish we serve on the outskirts of Taipei. Later, I returned to Peru where I was ordained a priest for the service of the people of God.
MISSION IN TAIPEI
At present, I serve as a parish priest in a parish on the outskirts of the city where the Comboni Missionaries live in Taipei (Taiwan). The parish is small because the percentage of Catholics in the region is low, yet the Christian community is lively and very enthusiastic in the expression of their faith. The parish is very peculiar, as it welcomes Vietnamese immigrants and people coming from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
It is a truly multicultural place, where faith is the meeting point and the union. In the parish we carry out various pastoral tasks, such as accompanying groups of children and teenagers, caring for migrants, indigenous pastoral work, visiting families, and Bible courses.
However, because our parish is next to a home for leprosy patients, we offer our service as volunteers and care for them with great affection, even though most of them are not Christians. It is a beautiful opportunity for interreligious encounter and dialogue with our Buddhist and Taoist brothers and sisters.
Normally, we tend to think that missionaries are the ones who teach people about God. However, considering my short experience in Vietnam and Taiwan, I think it is the opposite. It is the people I meet who, in their simplicity, reveal to me the merciful face of God. In fact, they are the ones who teach me how to be a missionary priest, encouraging me to be a close person, willing to learn day by day from them, who share with me their culture, their faith and their experience with our God who is love and present in their hearts.