by Fr. Vinod Mascaranhes sdb
MATUNGA-MUMBAI, NOVEMBER 10, 2014: The third day of NECDBS began with Morning Prayer in the Crypt of the Shrine of Don Bosco's Madonna. This was followed by the Eucharist to celebrate the birthday of Fr Godfrey D'souza—the Salesian Provincial of the Province of Mumbai. Fr Elson Barretto (Economer of the Province of Mumbai) presided at the celebration, since Fr Godfrey D'souza was indisposed. In his introduction, Fr Ajoy Fernandes (Vice Provincial of the Province of Mumbai) mentioned the key appointments of Fr D'souza in Africa and India, and highlighted his gifts of nature and grace. In his homily, Fr Ajoy preached on the Salesian educator as a good shepherd.
He recalled Pope Francis' metaphor «the shepherd must smell like the sheep,» and the emphasis of General Chapter 27 that Don Bosco was a shepherd of the young, and that likewise a true son of Don Bosco is also a shepherd; and drew out the implications of this theme in the context of their ministry in schools today. He affirmed that a good Salesian educator, "knows his students with their weaknesses and strengths; leads his sheep to wholesome pastures; keeps his students from falling into harmful situations; looks beyond his institution to reach out to vulnerable sheep from other sheepfolds."
After breakfast, the delegates convened for the panel discussions in three halls. Just as the first day, there were three themes taken for the day, that reflected the main theme of the Conference, "Leading Don Bosco Schools in the 21st Century". The theme for the first panel in the Bianchi Hall was 'School Leadership'. The panellists were Fr Crispino D'Souza (Rector and Principal, Dominic Savio High School, Mumbai) and Neha Chheda (Director, Shishuvan School, Mumbai); Nitin Padte (Principal, India First Foundation School, Karjat) moderated the discussion.
The second panel in the Library discussed 'Self-Review and Validation against a Standard'. The panellists were Vishnu Kartik (Associate Director, The Heritage Group of Schools, Gurgaon) and Geeta G. Kingdon (President and COO, City Montessori School, Lucknow). Spokey Wheeler (International Director, Adhyayan, Mumbai) moderated the discussion. The third panel in the Provincial House AV Hall focused on 'Community and Partnerships'. The panellists were Raj Gilda (Founder, Lend-A-Hand) and Kiran Bir Sethi (Founder, The Riverside School, Ahmedabad); Fr Siby joseph Vadakel (Principal, Don Bosco High School, Bandel) was the moderator.
After the panel discussions and a short tea-break, the delegates in each hall broke into working groups to discuss existing practices and proposed the way forward for schools, provinces and Salesian India. The delegates convened in the Bianchi Hall for a plenary session, which started with presentations by the co-sponsors: Future Publishers and Distributors, and CIS Bureaus Facility Services Pvt Ltd. Next, Fr Felix D'Souza, Mr Conrad Saldanha and Fr Vinod Mascarenhas presented syntheses on the panel discussions and the working group discussions.
After lunch, the delegates left for an outing. They visited the Global Vipassana Pagoda at Gorai; the center of the Global Pagoda contains the world's largest stone dome built without any supporting pillars. They spent the rest of the day at Boscowadi, Uttan. After two days of hard work, it was time for fun and play for the leaders. They returned just before the clock struck twelve!