EUROPE/ITALY - Father Dario Dozio: Do you have to go far to be a missionary?

Wednesday, 6 September 2023


Feriole (Agenzia Fides) - "I spent thirty years in the Ivory Coast as a missionary. The first fifteen years in the diocese of Bondoukou, in a rural area, with very few Christians. I did not even have a church: I celebrated Mass in a room or under a mango tree. When I returned to Italy, I found a Church in a state of mission", says Father Dario Dozio, of the Society of African Missions, who is currently in Feriole, in a house of missionary animation on the outskirts of Padua. Fides reports his recent trip made to the Ivory Coast with a group of young people who this year made a journey with the Diocesan Missionary Center and are now preparing to leave for a few weeks in Kenya, Tanzania, Angola.... "We went to the east of the country, where I spent my first 15 years in Africa: Abidjan, Bondoukou and Tabagne".
There is talk of a 'Church that goes forth', but do you have to go far to be a missionary? reflects Father Darius. "We are living through a change of era with many worrying aspects: a serious crisis of faith, parishes without young people, families in disarray, empty seminaries... We meet increasingly poor people, the arrival of migrants is scary, many are depressed, they are afraid... Yet even this situation presents an extraordinary opportunity, similar to the one I experienced in Africa: the beauty of the first proclamation. If today many ignore the Gospel or are indifferent, we have the privilege of being able to announce it in all its freshness and novelty". "It is up to us to ignite in our hearts the wonder of the encounter with the Lord", continues the missionary. Can you imagine a better occasion? Instead of complaining or regretting the past, let's ask ourselves: how can we achieve it today? Let's free ourselves from fears, prejudices, "we've always done it this way". The Church is a living body, the Spirit is still at work! "Is it really impossible to try, to attempt, to invent something new? To announce the Gospel in a language understandable by all, a liturgy that touches people's hearts, a faith attentive to the problems of our world? A laity that finally takes responsibility? A fraternity among priests that manifests the beauty of the faith? In short: we are lucky enough to live in an extraordinary era: the mission at km 0", concludes Father Dozio. (AP/DD) (Agenzia Fides, 6/9/2023)