06/24/2011, 00.00
MYANMAR – ITALY
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A DVD to tell the story of the Blessed Clemente Vismara’s mission

The documentary ‘Una vita non basta’ talks about the 65 years of missionary life of Fr Vismara in Myanmar. His beatification is set for this Sunday in Milan. PIME appeals for funds to rebuild Fr Clemente’s first mission, an orphanage in Monglin.
Milan (AsiaNews) – On the occasion of the beatification of Fr Clemente Vismara, which will take place this Sunday in Milan, we are publishing the introduction to a DVD titled “Una vita non basta”, (A lifetime is not enough), dedicated to the life of Fr Clemente Vismara (1897-1988).

The documentary looks at the life of the Catholic priest from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) who spent 65 years as a missionary in Burma (now Myanmar).

Born in Agrate Brianza (Italy), he left his homeland in 1923 for Southeast Asia where he lived until 1988, year of his death. Fr Vismara operated mostly in Shan state, in the northeastern part of the country, near the border with Thailand, a region inhabited by a number of Myanmar’s ethnic minorities. He was particularly involved with the Akha.

The missionary lived in two small rural villages, Monglin and Mongping, which he radically changed. Helping orphans became his lifework. The facility he set up brought something new to an area that hitherto had had no school or hospital.

When in the mid-60s the Burmese government expelled all foreigners who had entered the country after 1948, the PIME mission was devastated. Vismara however was able to remain in Mongping where he pursued his work until his death. For locals, he became a “saint” and the object of veneration, prayer and remembrance.

The documentary presents many of those who knew him (above all, his orphans) and shows the many of the places in Shan State that Vismara visited: Taunggyi, Kengtung, Monglin and Mongping (from an old tape). The mission in Mongping is currently unreachable because of fighting between Shan nationalists and the central government. And the DVD offers much more.

It has a section highlighting the work carried out by PIME right across the border in Thailand. Here and following in the footsteps of Fr Vismara, the institute works with ethnic Shan and Akha people, mostly refugees from Myanmar.

It also presents interviews with Fr Piero Gheddo (editor of Mondo e Missione), Fr Cervellera (editor-in-chief of the AsiaNews press agency), Fr Giovanni Zimbaldi (who was a missionary with Vismara in Burma in the 1960s), and Sister Elisabetta Cavagna (missionary with the Sisters of the Holy Child Mary who knew Vismara); performances based on some of Fr Clemente’s letters, interpreted by actor Michele Rados; and a vast photo gallery.

In addition, the DVD has a ROM section with a special June 2011 issue of Mondo e Missione dedicated to Fr Vismara.

Fr Clemente Vismara, who came to be regarded as the ‘patriarch of Burma’ in his lifetime, will be beatified this Sunday in Milan cathedral. The ceremony will be led by Card Dionigi Tettamanzi, together with 340 priests. A delegation of bishops, priests and nuns from Myanmar will take part in the service, including Joseph Tayasoe, a young man who in 1998 was helped by a miracle performed by Fr Clemente.

On the occasion of the beatification, the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) is appealing for donations to rebuild the Monglin orphanage, Fr Vismara’s first mission, which suffered extensive damage in last March earthquake in northern Myanmar and Thailand, leaving 70 people dead and thousands homeless.
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