01/17/2015, 00.00
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Rediscovering the faith thanks to the missionary Churches of Asia

The example and testimony of PIME missionaries, the catechesis on the radio by Fr. Piero Gheddo and especially the vitality of the Catholic communities of China and Korea push a young Italian to put aside old prejudices and rediscover the joy of the Gospel.

Milan (AsiaNews) - Rediscovering the faith through missionary witness, the catechesis on the radio and especially the vitality of the Churches of China and Korea. This is the experience of a young man from Brescia, who wanted to share with Fr. Piero Gheddo - missionary of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions and founder of AsiaNews - his "re-conversion" as an adult. Here is the text of the letter received by Fr. Gheddo.

Dearest Father Piero Gheddo, I write this letter to you with great joy! First of all let me introduce myself. My name is Giovanni Maria (son of a family with eight children, four boys and four girls), I'm 24 and I have just completed economic studies at the Bocconi University. I work as a researcher at the IESE Business School in Barcelona focusing on Africa. An exciting job that takes me to Spain, Kenya and Nigeria, to try to get a deeper understanding of the potential of what until a few years ago it was called "the hopeless continent" and now is termed "the new engine of growth for humanity ".

It was 2011 and I was under the gaze of the many colors and the bright lights of Sinchon in the heart of Seoul in South Korea. Fascinated by what I saw around me, but even more by incredible story of Father Augusto Gianola, the hermit of PIME in the Brazilian Amazon, that I was listening to on Radio Maria. And it was through his catechesis, downloaded from the website of Radio Maria, that I learned of the monthly program "The mission continues," the mission ad gentes, that speaks of the life and spirit of the missionaries. Since then I have never missed an episode. The stories from Burma of Felice Tantardini, the saint with the hammer, and the great Clemente Vismara, the adventures of Angelo Campagnoli between Burma and Thailand, those of Aristide Pirovano and Marcello Candia in the Amazon, Bishop. Cesare Bonivento in Papua New Guinea, Father Maurizio Bezzi among street children in Yaoundé in Cameroon, and so on.

Stories that have accompanied me on the streets of the world. After five unforgettable months in university at Yonsei University in Seoul, I went to China for a year of study at Fudan University in Shanghai. And your catechesis accompanied me in the forests of Kenya where I was for a few months working as a researcher at the Strathmore Business School in Nairobi.

Thanks father Piero! Just as you experienced, I have also been left speechless in front of the vitality, joy and enthusiasm of these young Churches. I was fascinated by their simple and youthful faith, which goes to the essentials of the Christian message, that Jesus Christ, is the only Saviour of mankind.

I was amazed bythe role of the laity. Fathers and mothers, young college students like me that transmit their faith in every environment with ease and with a smile. In these young Churches the laity is the engine of the parishes, the laity organize the Sunday Mass, promote visits to the poor, retreats, cultural initiatives and also fundraising. The parish is a real family where lay people take care of the entire Christian community. The priest is the father who watches over everyone, by the laity are the protagonists who work to proclaim Christ to non-Christians, with surprising results.

I can say without doubt that the Chinese and Korean Churches converted me. It was in the Far East that perhaps for the first time I saw the living Jesus, the Jesus of whom St. Paul said "it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me", "for me to live is Christ." How many young converts I got to know, how many newly baptized. I shall never forget the light that flowed from their eyes, a light that illuminated everyone who passed their way. Valentine, a young Chinese girl who now works in marketing for a major multinational company, immediately after receiving baptism in the Cathedral of St. Ignatius in Shanghai, told me: "Giovanni. This is the best day of my life. Since I discovered Jesus, I live with him in my heart and my life has yaken on new meaning".  This is Evangelii gaudium, this is the "joy of the Gospel which fills the heart and the whole life of those who encounter Jesus". These churches have so much to teach us! Thanks, then, for all that you are doing through catechesis on Radio Maria and all the books and articles you publish. I always remember you in prayer. Best wishes,

          Giovanni Maria Mazzacani


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“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”