24 Jul 2018
Missionary of the Week: Fr. Joseph Santa Bibiana | July 29-August 4
Missionary of the Week
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 29-August 4: Fr. Joseph Santa Bibiana
How did you discover your Salesian Vocation?
At the age of 14, I started working in a bank and going to night school. On Sundays I went to the oratory with my friends. We rode our bikes about three miles to the Salesian oratory. In the morning there would be Mass and games, and in the afternoon there would be more games, religious instruction, Benediction, and a movie or a play on the stage put on by the students and “oratorians.” I would say that I came to like the life of the Salesians by “osmosis.” I especially liked the way the Salesians befriended us. At the age of 20 I was ready to join the Salesians.
How did you become a missionary?
When I left home to join the Salesians, I already had the idea of becoming a missionary. The Salesian magazine Juventud Misionera had a lot to do with it, as well as the visits of some Spanish missionaries like Fr. Jose Luis Carreño (missionary in India) with his accordion and missionary songs. I still remember some of them today! During my novitiate I volunteered to go to the missions, and after our first profession I was sent to our Salesian Province of St. Philip the Apostle in the U.S. I have been here since 1956.
How do you live your missionary vocation now?
Before our first profession, some members of the provincial council visited us and interviewed all the novices. When I went in for my interview, a council member, who had been my director as a candidate, asked me with a smile: “Santa, what are you going to do in America? Convert everyone?” I answered: “Father, I’m going to do whatever they tell me to do.”
During my Salesian life I have served in several communities in our province. Now, at 85 years of age, I am on my third round in our mission in Belle Glade – going on my 24th year of service all together. I was the first Salesian to arrive to Belle Glade in 1980. I am now a parochial vicar helping as much as I can: Masses, confessions, weddings, Baptisms, oratory, visits to the sick, etc. I am very happy doing my priestly work without any administrative responsibilities. A good part of my time I spend praying for vocations to the Salesian life, because “some” Salesians are getting old – though I am not there yet!
Photo credit: Fr. Mike Mendl