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Salesian echoes

Story of a Vocation: Fr. Eneas Tozzi, SDB

During my first year of studies in the United States (1950-1951), I was at Don Bosco College in Newton, NJ. I was then 13 years old, in my first year of High School. DB College was at that time house of formation for the students of Philosophy, the novices, the late vocations and the aspirants. We must have been more than 25 Canadians (quite a few were already Salesians in Philosophy), mostly French- Canadians from Quebec, almost all recruited by Fr. Décarie. The director of DBC was Fr. Eneas Tozzi. What impressed me most about him was that he had known St.John Bosco, having met him in Turin. Without really being much acquainted with Fr. Tozzi, he fascinated us simply because of that. When he would speak to the students, in good-nights or at Mass, I did not understand much of what he said, especially during the first months. Sometimes, Fr. Décarie would gather us after the evening meal and invite Fr. Tozzi to walk and talk with us outside on the campus. I recall that on one such occasion, he told us about the first time he met Don Bosco and how he had become a Salesian. Even if later Fr. Décarie would translate for us what had been said, I had forgotten many of the details of that episode. Some time ago, I chanced upon the written account of that meeting  while reading the 18th volume of the Memorie Biografiche. An event which Fr. Tozzi considered as the origin of his Salesian vocation. Here are those few lines as translated from the Italian:  R. Trottier

“The director of he house of Faenza wanted to reward the three best pupils by taking them to the Oratory in September. From there they went to Valsalice to be presented to Don Bosco. The saint greeted them kindly, giving them his hand to kiss, but when it came to the youngest one of them, a 12 year old boy in his 2nd year, he pulled it away from him. He looked straight at him and very seriously said, “We are not friends!” The poor boy’s heart was broken. He had no sooner left than he began crying. Don Rinaldi kept telling him that Don Bosco was only joking, but there was no peace of soul for the boy. He prayed, went to communion, until an interior voice suggested to him to break a promise he had made. This is what had happened. His mother, a widow for many years, had at first refused to give him permission to make the trip, because she was afraid that Don Bosco would talk the boy into becoming a Salesian. But when he assured her that he would not let himself “be caught”, she allowed him to go.
He decided to act upon this “inspiration” and took back his promise, resolved to follow God’s will. Readmitted into the presence of Don Bosco (the boys were there for three days), the saint told him with a smile: “Now we are friends!” And putting his right hand on his shoulder, he added: “And you will never leave Don Bosco again!” He then took three medals and, giving them to him one at the time, he said: “This one is for your mother, this one for your sister, and this one is for you”. How he knew about the situation of his family always remained a mystery to the boy. And he acted the same way with the other two boys. Back in Faenza, he finished his high school, overcame some difficulties and in October of the year 1891 entered novitiate in Foglizzo. This briefly is the story of Don Eneas Tozzi’s vocation, of him who today (1936) is the Provincial Superior of the Salesian houses of England.”
(Memorie Biografiche, Vol. XVIII, pp. 381-82)

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