Missionary of the Week – July 8-14: Fr. Tarcisio Dos Santos

05 Jul 2018

The Province Vocations Office will present a “Missionary of the Week” in Salesian News during the summer months.  Amy Marinaro of the Vocations Office conducts very short interviews.

July 8-14: Fr. Tarcisio Dos Santos

How did you discover your Salesian Vocation?

Once a year the Salesian in charge of vocations, Fr. Eduardo Serradel, used to visit my hometown São Luiz do Paraitinga to spend some days there looking for vocations. He used to visit the schools to convince the boys to follow in his steps. At that time my idea of a priest was of a serious man dressed in a cassock praying most of the time. I was very active in the church, but I had never thought about becoming a priest. When I met the funny magician, Fr. Eduardo, with no cassock performing magic tricks, telling stories, and spreading happiness, I decided to talk to him. I entered the seminary in 1974 when I was 13 years old. I had a great experience in each phase of formation, and in 1989 I was ordained a priest in my hometown in a huge solemn celebration involving the entire city.

How did you become a missionary?

After 11 years as a priest working in formation, while I was the director of the aspirantate in Piracicaba, Brazil, we were visited by Fr. Baruffi from the general council. He asked me about becoming a missionary. He told me: you have been working in formation for years; you should work in a different service. What do you think about becoming a missionary and working in a different country? I liked the idea and answered that I was available to face this different challenge. So I was sent to the U.S.

How do you live your missionary vocation now?

Now I live my vocation by ministering among multicultural people in Port Chester. I feel blessed to be able to understand and communicate in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. My service is pastoral. People come looking for confession and spiritual direction and for me to visit their homes to anoint their sick and bless their homes, cars, and other goods. Nursing homes and hospitals frequently call asking for services.

Since I came to Port Chester, the Brazilian community has had a prayer group every Thursday from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. I am there available to hear confessions and close the prayer group with the blessing of Mary Help of Christians. On Sunday we have our Portuguese Mass. After Mass we have a breakfast because it is very important for us to have an experience of community after Mass and to have time to know each other by name, share food, share job opportunities, and help those in most need. I am a part of the lives of these people and help them to overcome their conflicts and help them to continue to grow in their faith.

I left my mother and ten siblings in Brazil and found a countless number of them here. In January I usually visit my family in Brazil, and we have at least two great celebrations. One is to commemorate my mother’s birthday. It starts in the parish with Mass, followed by a big party. By the end my mother, who is going to be 94, repeats the same question: Is this my last birthday party? I answer: let’s start preparing the next one. Another weekend we invite all our relatives and have a Mass for our deceased and share a good “churrasco” with about 200 people.

As a priest I bring my family together when I visit Brazil. I have a wonderful family, but I keep my missionary vocation as a priority in my life. I have no doubt that I have made the best choice for my life. You should think about becoming a missionary too.

Photo credit: Fr. Mike Mendl

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