Wednesday, November 15, 2017


by Father Solomon Rapol 


MUMBAI, NOV 15, 2017: Five hundred  youngsters from U S Ostwal English Academy (Primary section), Mira Road visited Bosco Boys Home, Borivli along with their class teachers on November 10, for an orientation on the life of the inmates at the Home.


The students arrived in the morning and assembled in the boys' refectory. Father Solomon Rapol, the Rector welcomed them. "Don Bosco wished that all children should become honest citizens and prayerful beings, " he said, adding, "All of us must strive for excellence and put in our best effort to achieve success." 


Thereafter, Father Rapol led the group in a moment of prayer. He also introduced them to Young at Risk (YaR). YaR is a Don Bosco National Forum set up in the 1970s to address pressing issues surrounding youth in India. YaR embraces children and young people whose safety, growth and development are put at risk through indifference and neglect on the part of parents as well as society. 

A YaR Day programme, themed on 'Caring for the Earth-Our common home' has been scheduled for November 19. It will be a gathering of youth from streets and difficult situations. Father Rapol asked the visitors to be kind to at least one poor person on that day.

The visiting students of class three and four put up a dance for the boys of the Home. The students brought some colour pencils, art papers and stationery for the inmates. Their gesture of love was deeply appreciated and the boys thanked the students and teachers for their generosity. 


Sanchari De, teacher from the visiting school thanked the institute for welcoming them warmly. The visitors then toured the institute and departed with fond memories.

Monday, November 13, 2017


by Karen Laurie

MUMBAI, NOV 13, 2017: Rector Major Father Angel Fernandez Artime, the 10th successor of Don Bosco, met his Salesian fraternity of the Mumbai province – comprising of over 100 priests – on November 12, and reminded them that they are part of a "great congregation", which is forging ahead and "opening new horizons" in countries like Malaysia and Gambia.  

The Rector Major was in the city for a day-long visit to preside over jubilee celebrations of three institutions in the city, Diamond Jubilee of the Shrine of Don Bosco's Madonna, the Platinum Jubilee of Don Bosco High School and the Centenary of St. Joseph's High School. He also visited Don Bosco Shelter, where he met with several youth – who form the crux of the charism of the Salesians of Don Bosco world-over.

He set aside an hour to also meet with the Salesians just before presiding over the Festive Jubilee Eucharist. During his meeting with his confreres he highlighted a road-map for taking the congregation forward and also summed up the over-all affairs of the congregation with relation to the possibility of deploying young Don Bosco's to places where there's little hope for the hopeless, like Siberia and Mongolia.    

"The congregation is moving … because permanently there are things developing. We open new houses, we open more than what we close. The congregation has opened up new horizons in some countries. We are going to start a community in Malaysia, in Gambia, that is a small country in West Africa," he said.

"Around the Feast of Don Bosco, we are going to start a presence in a big refugee camp in Uganda, where there are 40,000 refugees and among all these 40,000, half are minors. I can tell you that having gone around the world, I've never returned back to Rome with the sensation that things aren't going well."

"If you look at India, for example it's a marvel, look at Asia East, it's the same. Look at Europe, I can say the same thing about that. The technical schools that we have for poor in Europe are wonderful institutions."

The Salesians are at times the only hope for youth in war-torn famine-ridden countries like Sierra Leone, Peru and Colombia. "We found many girls and boys around 15 years of age who are caught up in the drug war of FAARC in Colombia. A year ago their job was to be in the Army to kill other people, when we found them we could see hope and life in them," he said.

"We went to Ghana and found two small girls of eight years, those girls were left to die somewhere else. They had all been trafficked to take away their vital organs. Two adolescents, I remember were looking at us from far. They had suffered so much, after knowing how fraternal and loving we are, they are permanently with us, because they needed a father."

The Rector Major also addressed a range of administrative issues that have been dealt with in recent times. "Meeting the confreres personally is sufficient reason enough for me to be travelling around the world. It is beautiful to see the numbers of the Salesian family, lay collaborators, meeting young people and poor is very beautiful."

In the course of the meeting, a band from the Don Bosco Youth Centre performed a piece "Tijuana Taxi", followed by which Father Orville Coutinho, Golden Jubilarian of Profession-  presented the Rector Major with a shawl, while a novice garlanded him.

The Rector Major also released a special coffee-table book entitled "100 Years and Counting – St. Joseph's Wadala", printed to mark the centenary of the Salesian institution only a kilometer away from the sprawling Don Bosco campus in Matunga. Father Godfrey D'Sa, the Principal of St. Joseph's addressed the gathering. A band of brothers from Divyadaan in Nashik then performed "Scipio".

The Rector Major also urged the confreres to take care of each other and to build a spirit of brotherhood. "It's important to care for each other, because sometimes without distributing warmth, we lose confreres in the congregation. In our community, we must grow more and more in our fraternity, because the congregation must continue to grow."


by Karen Laurie 


MUMBAI, NOV 13, 2017: 'Dare to Dream' and they did! The students of Don Bosco High School, Matunga - numbering over 2000 - with their army of teachers put up a dream show for the Rector Major of the Salesians, Father Angel Fernandez Artime, the 10th successor of Don Bosco, when he joined them for the celebration of the school's 75th Platinum Jubilee celebrations; so much so that he said, " It's for the first time in my Salesian life, that I am seeing an entire school coming on stage. Never before have I seen 2400 students on stage at one time. Congratulations! Congratulations!"


Youth armed with drums, guitars, tambourines and saxophones, played in complete harmony, welcoming the Rector Major and other dignitaries comprising of Father Maria Arokiam Kanaga, Regional Superior of South Asia, Father Godfrey D'Souza, Provincial of Mumbai, Father Horacio Lopez, Rector Major's Secretary, Father Crispino D'Souza, school Rector and Father Roy Noronha, school Vice Principal.

The Don Bosco High School campus gave the Rector Major a glimpse of the city of Mumbai, on his maiden trip, as it brimmed with people and seemed starved for space. Every one busied about - excited parents looked for seats with the best view, enthusiastic children took instructions before their big act and vigilant teachers added their final touches. On November 12, at 7:30pm, this was the place to be. 

After felicitating the dignitaries, a coffee-table magazine commemorating the Institution's Platinum Jubilee was released. Then the curtains opened to the big show, 'Dare to dream', a musical about one of the most successful child superstars in history, The Jackson 5 and one of them Michael Jackson who went to become the King of Pop. Their father spotted their talent early on and honed their skill to turn them into America's singing sensation. 


The tiny tots from kindergarten with their prayer song, 'Footsteps walking with me', thanked God for always being by their side. The staff and students together rose to the occasion and welcomed Father Artime with a Spanish song. 

The musical then belted out tracks like 'My girl', 'ABC' and 'Rockin Robin' that had classes one, two and five grooving and moving. Classes three and four, performed to the foot-tapping beats of 'Sugar pie honey bunch' and 'Kansas city'. 


Not to be left behind, standards six, seven and eight, jumped and danced to 'Twist and shout', 'Dancing in the street' and 'I want you back'. And the big act was left for the big boys of classes nine and ten, who set the stage on fire with 'Blame it on the boogie' and 'Billie Jean'.

"It is a tradition that 10th standard don't get a chance to participate in annual day. This is the first and only batch that has got to participate. We had a great bonding between us and the teachers. We never thought that such a great personality like the Rector Major would come to see us and the compliments we received were really good," Herschel Menezes, student of class ten, who was part of the musical, said.

The whole school shimmered and shined to give out one message loud and clear: Every child should live his dream. With the Jubilee anthem and waving of Jubilee flags the curtain fell on the musical, but the show was not over yet. 


All present were treated to a fine surprise, including the Rector Major, when the school Principal Father Bernard Fernandes, handed him a guitar and Father Artime, willingly obliged the gathering with three Spanish songs. 


The crowd was ecstatic as the Rector Major exuded good humour and bonhomie. The living Don Bosco exemplified the Salesian Preventive System of Education by accompanying the young with loving kindness. 

"I was pleased to see the teachers among the boys all the time. Being Salesian educators is having the capacity to stay with the young," Father Artime said, adding, " Thank you parents for the confidence you have in our capacity and way of educating your children. We promise you our concern are your sons."  

Dominic Savio Menezes, father of Herschel, said, "My son was one of the main cast and this was a different annual day. We had Don Bosco with us. I don't have words to express the feeling. Don Bosco School is not just about academics but children are also taught to dare to dream."

Father Fernandes, on behalf of the gathering, addressed the Rector Major, "We thank you for leaving behind fond memories of love and the spirit of Don Bosco. Bless us all as you leave this place with your gentle blow of peace," he said.


by Karen Laurie 


MUMBAI, NOV 13, 2017: When over 100 priests con-celebrate a Eucharistic celebration, which is presided over by the 10th successor of Saint Don Bosco, Rector Major Father Angel Fernandez Artime, and a choir of 50 brothers add their melodious touch to the service, you know that an important milestone is at hand.


The iconic Shrine of Don Bosco's Madonna, which was built in 1957 by the great visionary, Father Aurelius Maschio, marked its red-letter day, the Diamond Jubilee of the Shrine on November 12. Two bishops, namely Bishop Dominic Savio Fernandes, Bishop Barthol Barretto and His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias celebrated the Solemn Jubilee Eucharist in the morning, while the Rector Major presided over the festive Jubilee Eucharistic celebration on the Shrine grounds at 5.30pm.


Father Ian Doulton, Editor of Don Bosco's Madonna magazine, urged the laity to rise to welcome Father Artime, saying, "We welcome you on behalf of the Salesians of Don Bosco to the 60th Diamond Jubilee of our Shrine, we are honoured by the presence of the 10th successor of Don Bosco, Father Angel Fernandez Artime."


An army of little angels led the procession of priests and finally the Rector Major out of the Provincial House. It was Father Artime's first real interaction with the laity in the city and he immediately brought smiles to the faces of the faithful by blessing them and saying "God bless you," as he walked to the majestic altar 100-metres away.  

Father Edwin D'Souza, the Rector of the Shrine, described the Rector Major's presence as, "The best Diamond Jubilee gift we have received." Father D'Souza said, "It is with a heart filled with gratitude that I stand here this evening to extend a heart-felt and affectionate welcome to our dear Rector Major."

"It was on the 20th of April, 2016, that I wrote to Father Maria Arokiam Kanaga, our Regional Superior about our plans to invite our Rector Major for our Jubilee celebrations. We were privileged to have Father Chavez, the previous Rector Major for our Golden Jubilee and we were looking forward to having our present Rector Major for the Diamond Jubilee. He replied, 'Anything for Don Bosco... ' Our Rector Major did not disappoint us, after his visit to Bangalore and Guwahati he was passing through Mumbai for just a day to preside over our Diamond Jubilee celebrations, for this we are immensely grateful."    


A group of young girls from Auxilium Convent High School, run by the Salesian sisters, then performed a Bharatnatyam prayer dance that added to the celebratory fervour. Father D'Souza presented a tribute to the Salesian visionary, Father Maschio, who's portrait stood near the main altar. "I would like to place on record our appreciation and admiration of him for the beautiful Shrine of Our Lady that he gave to the city and people of Mumbai. On his behalf I express our immense gratitude to his family who have given him so freely and lovingly to the Salesians. We pledge to continue the vision of Father Maschio," he said.

A group of little flower girls then filled the path of the Rector Major with petals as he and the con-celebrants, Father Kanaga, Father Horacio Lopez, Rector Major's Secretary, Father Godfrey D'Souza, Provincial of Mumbai and Father Edwin D'Souza, ascended to the main altar. The Rector Major addressed the gathering in Italian with the help of Father Kanaga who was an able translator.   


"It's a real joy to meet all of you in Mumbai for the first time. In the name of Jesus I want to thank all of you for having come here this evening. A loving embrace to those who are very close to us Salesians, the young people, the boys and the girls. This wonderful evening all of us are gathered here to thank God for the last 60 years," he said.


"In Turin, Don Bosco did all that he could and constructed the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians and there is written on top, 'This is my house from here my glory shall go forth.' Today, Our Lady of Don Bosco's Madonna reaches out to so many people around the world. I was able to see the Shrine only this afternoon. It is so beautiful to see it and the thought struck me in the last 60 years how many people came to rest under the mantle of Our Lady, how many married people came to dedicate their life to Our Lady and how many men and women religious came to pray to Our Lady for protection of their consecrated life," he said.

"Our Lady always accompanies us in all circumstances in our life, to have such a faith in Our lady, Don Bosco said, is a way to get miracles. But we don't need to see big miracles or healings, very often we find enough courage to continue our life at the feet of Our Lady, so I invite you to thank God for the graces he gives to us through the intersession of Our Lady. I invite young people here to intensify this love of Our Lady in their hearts." 

Following the Eucharistic celebration, Father D'Souza felicitated the Rector Major, while Father Doulton invited Giovanni Bernasconi, on behalf of the benefactors the world over, to present a bouquet and to garland the Rector Major. He also read a citation to Pervin and Minocher Damania - for their long-standing service to the Shrine choir - and requested the Rector Major to present it to them.


Father Artime released a special coffee-table book of the Shrine. Father Doulton highlighted the efforts of Rajen Nandwana, the photographer, and William Fernandes, the art director. Finally, Father Godfrey D'Souza and Father Kanaga also thanked the Rector Major for visiting Mumbai and making the Jubilee celebrations so special.

"This is a very rare event where you have both 60 years and the Rector Major's visit together. We come to the Shrine every Sunday, so it was only fit for us to come for the Jubilee celebrations and the whole mass was so beautiful. Even though the Rector Major was speaking in Italian it sounded so beautiful that I didn't want him to stop" Bianca Mascarenhas, a devotee from Mahim said. 


With the Diamond Jubilee of Her Shrine, Don Bosco's Madonna brought together the young, the old, the laity, the religious alltogether at the  banquet of the Lord, and they could all truly say, 'Don Bosco was among us!'

Sunday, November 12, 2017


by Karen Laurie 


MUMBAI, NOV 12, 2017: All roads in Mumbai seemingly led to Matunga on November 12, as thousands of faithful joined forces, with the Salesians of Don Bosco, to celebrate five Diamond Jubilee Masses of the iconic Shrine of Don Bosco's Madonna, which was built in 1957 by the great visionary, Father Aurelius Maschio, along the lines of the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Turin, which was built by Saint Don Bosco himself.  


Like every Sunday, the Shrine opened its majestic edifice to the faithful at the stroke of dawn with the first Jubilee mass being celebrated at 6am, followed by another at 7am. While the faithful entered the sanctuary in their Sunday finery, the Shrine, so to say, put on its Sunday best as well, with 16 large floral tributes adorning the main altar.


Flowers adorned the chapels dedicated to Mary Help of Christians and Saint Don Bosco near the main entrance as well, welcoming the laity with open arms. A portrait of Father Maschio stood near the alter marking his tremendous contribution to not only the Shrine or the Salesian family, but to the city of Mumbai itself.


With Bishop Dominic Savio Fernandes, Bishop Barthol Barretto and His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias celebrating the Solemn Jubilee Eucharist at 8am, 9.30am and 11am respectively, the Shrine braced for a celebration fit for a Diamond Jubilee.

Father Edwin D'Souza, the Rector of the Shrine, recapped its glorious history, saying, "It has been 60 glorious years since the Shrine of Don Bosco's Madonna was erected to the glory of God and the honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Fascinated by the grandeur and beauty of the Shrine of Mary Help of Christians in Turin, Father Aurelius Maschio wanted to replicate this monument of Don Bosco for the people of the city of Mumbai, as a monument of love and devotion to Mary Help of Christians. "


"His work was made possible by the generosity of thousands of benefactors in the city, the country, Italy and around the world to make the dream into a reality. In 1957, the Shrine opened its doors. Among the many highlights was the visit of Blessed Pope Paul VI in December 1964. On this Diamond Jubilee, we thank Almighty God for the graces he showers."


A special youth choir, comprising of eight singers, from Our Lady of Dolours Church, Wadala lent a melodious tone to the celebrations at 8am Jubilee Eucharist. Bishop Fernandes was the main celebrant, alongside Father Bernard Fernandes, Father Crispino D'Souza and Father Leon Rodrigues.  

In his homily, Bishop Fernandes urged the laity to live a life centered in God. "The Shrine of Don Bosco's Madonna was erected to give glory to God by honouring his Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary Help of Christians helps us, by leading us to Jesus, because when we have Jesus we have everything in life," he said. "For the past 60 years, we have come here to learn from Mary our Mother how to worship him, how to adore him, how to love him."


"Here, we are filled with his mercy and have gone out into the world filled with the blessings of God. As Saint Paul states in his first letter to the Hebrews 10:11, 'Whatever you do, do for the glory of God'. That means our whole life, like Mary, has to be for glory towards God, our lives should be God-centered, Christ-centred, that's why we come to this Shrine, so that we can make our lives God-centric." 


Bishop Barretto, a regular benefactor of the Shrine as a teenager, in the 9.30am Solemn Jubilee Eucharist added a personal touch to the Shrine by recounting his visits and the countless graces Mary Help of Christians helped bestow upon him. Father Ajoy Fernandes and Father Glenford Lowe were the con-celebrants. A choir from the Holy Cross Church, Kurla added to the celebratory fervour.


"I remember as a student and later on as a youth studying in college, I used to come to this great Shrine of Don Bosco's Madonna and through the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, called Confession, through the celebration of the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist, I still remember with joy, I used to be connected with God, our Father," he said, adding, "All of us must get ourselves connected with God because our faith inspires us to believe that the most holy and triumphant God is present in this Shrine. Our faith in God challenges us to pray to God in spirit, so that we may receive peace in solace deep within."


Faith and Harmony, a Salesian choir, set the tone for the 11am Solemn Jubilee Eucharist, presided over by His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias, and concelebrated by Father Godfrey D'Souza, the Provincial, and Father Edwin D'Souza. The entrance hymn 'Come on and celebrate' highlighted the need to relish the milestone.

Cardinal Gracias, in his homily, focused on the importance of family in society and also prayed for the Salesian family and their mission. "Each of us in our families must have peace, unity, love, happiness, success …. Pope Francis has been speaking to families and he said three words families must use more, they are 'please', 'thank you' and 'I'm sorry'. It means be gentle, be grateful and ask for forgiveness," he said, adding, "I pray for the Salesians. I thank God for them, I ask for God's blessings on them. May be continue to make the Shrine to help us to do what Jesus wants us to do."


With the curtain falling on the morning celebrations, all eyes will now move to the special Festive Jubilee Eucharistic celebration that will begin on the shrine grounds at 5.30pm and will be presided over by Father Angel Fernandez Artime, the Rector Major of the Salesians, the 10th successor of Don Bosco.  


by Karen Laurie 


MUMBAI, NOV 12, 2017: "I'm glad Father Provincial made provisions to bring me here. He could have taken me anywhere else. I am glad he brought me here. I am very very happy. You are in our hearts before anyone else. All Salesians fathers, brothers and sisters are giving our life for you," said Father Ángel Fernández Artime, the Rector Major of the Salesians, also the 10th successor of Saint Don Bosco, on his maiden trip to Mumbai, where visited Shelter Don Bosco, Matunga, a Salesian-run home working with roofless and rootless street children from the city on November 12.


Shelter is a part of the Don Bosco family of institutions that work with and for youth, especially those at risk. Over the past years, Shelter has responded to the growing needs and demands of youth in various ways, each of which has led to several different projects that seek to empower the marginalised child. 


The youth, staff and management of Shelter welcomed Father Artime for a special Shelter Mela with a traditional aarti ceremony at 9.30am. Girls from Anmol, meaning priceless, which is a project for Girls at Risk, run by the Salesian Sisters in the city, then performed a special prayer dance.  


Anmol is an organisation that seeks to restore human dignity and build up the self-esteem of the girls on the street. It also looks to restore the girls, back to the family and to provide them with facilities for recreation, medical aid and education.


Boys from Shelter serenaded the Rector Major with a welcome song in English and Italian, telling him never to depart from their hearts. Father Artime was then felicitated with the customary Gandhi topi and shawl. The other dignitaries present: Father Maria Arokiam Kanaga, Regional Superior of South Asia, Father Horacio Lopez, Rector Major's Secretary, Father Godfrey D'Souza, Provincial of Mumbai, Father Savio Silveira, Vice Provincial and Father Manuel Murzello, provincial Economer were also felicitated.


Father Gregory Almeida, Director of Shelter, also the YaR commission coordinator for Mumbai province, addressed the Rector Major, saying, " We have not seen Don Bosco nor had the privilege to visit Becchi or Turin (where Don Bosco lived and died) but looking at your smile and your friendly presence makes us believe that you are the living Don Bosco among us. For this our hearts are filled with gratitude and joy. We are really blessed with your presence."


Shelter boys then performed a cultural Koli dance, giving the guests a sneak peek into the rich and diverse cultural heritage of India. Kolis are a fisherfolk community residing in the coastal regions of the state of Maharashtra.  

Youth from Baroda-based Bosco Snehalaya, which is a shelter for Young at Risk, performed a Gujarat folk dance to the tune of local songs. Snehalaya aims to love every street child and youth and to ensure that they receive opportunities for their physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual development, which enables them to repatriate back into their family and reintegrate into society. 


Youth from Bosco Boys Home in Borivli, which is a non formal technical school catering to the needs of school dropouts, the economically marginalised and orphans, joined forces to show off their talent by performing an intricately choreographed thematic dance on the song, 'Who am I?'


"We are very grateful to Don Bosco. It is a place where we grow and get a good life. Through our performance we want to give a message from our life that always have faith in God in all circumstances, even in danger," said James Edward (20) from Bosco's Boys Home, also the dance choreographer . 


The boys were deeply moved on listening to a Salesian priest Father Rob Galea sing the popular Christian song as a contestant in Australia's 2015 The X Factor. In 2017, they found their perfect stage during the visit of the Salesian Rector Major. 


Bosco Boys Home offers training to youth above the age of 15 and below 24. Youth must hail from economically backward sections of society. It offers youth from across the country a residential facility irrespective of caste and creed. 


The Rector Major then released two new books, entitled 'Forever grateful to Don Bosco: Success Stories of Young at Risk' compiled by Martin D'Souza and the 'After Care Directory' compiled by Annie Cardoz and Saloni Shah.


The first book tells readers about 22 success stories of boys and girls from several Don Bosco shelters in the Mumbai province. One such story is of Prabhakar Nadar (30). He joined Shelter as a teenager and today is a driver by profession, with a home of his own. He was once a runaway, brought to Shelter from the railway stations of Mumbai. 

"I am what I am because of Shelter Don Bosco and all the Salesian fathers. They trained me to be a driver and helped me get a driver's licence; otherwise I would have no identity. It is very hard to get jobs and any documents on your own for boys like us."  


Speaking about the book, Father Almeida said, "It is a book dedicated to Father Steve Rodrigues, a Salesian who showed us how to love and care for young at risk children who are lost, least and last. There are many more success stories of young at risk children but there are some who have come forward to be grateful to Don Bosco and to their respective YaR centres."


The second publication is a compilation of contact details for after-care assistance for youth and various NGOs who seek to place their youth in the right organisations. Work on the book began after various NGOs realised that an after-care programme in necessary for children in need of care and protection or a juvenile in conflict with law that requires further assistance.


Following the book release, the Rector Major addressed the gathering, saying, " All you youngsters are the first love of us Salesians and Don Bosco. My loving Salesian fathers, brothers and sisters, I want to thank you for dedicating your lives to serve these young people. I also want to thank all the staff members of the institutes for helping the youth."

Then just like Don Bosco, the Rector Major was one with the youth as he sat among them, laughing, interacting, etching memories in their hearts and making a difference in their lives. As the curtain fell on the special event and Father Artime departed to the Don Bosco Matunga campus, a Shelter youth Santosh Waghmare (15) said, " Long live Don Bosco!"