by Janina Gomes
MUMBAI, SEP 22, 2016: 'Don Bosco in Mangalore before the arrival of the Salesians' is a book by Sister Philomena D'Souza, an FMA of the Mumbai Province, who is no stranger to Catholic circles, with a Masters in Psychology from the Pontifical Faculty of Sciences of Education Rome and the significant contribution she has made to the youth ministry and women's empowerment in India, is really like a classic describing the great religious and cultural history of Catholics in Mangalore and the many vocations it spawned off, both religious fathers and sisters all over India.
Don Bosco who was requested by Pope Pius IX to consider sending missionaries to Mangalore and who had a lasting impact in Mangalore even though this dream of sending a Salesian team there did not materialise during his lifetime, had already cast his religious shadow there long before the fathers and sisters really set up base.
The book records the early history of Mangaloreans, their migration from Goa and the persecution they suffered for being loyal to their faith and for holding on fast to their language and culture – Konkani and Konkani culture.
The book is based on first hand research of the parishes, clubs and schools in places like Shirva, Kayyar,Kelmbet, Udupi, Puttur, Agrar – youth education, sports, recreation, based on Salesian spirituality. She even covers the history of the Konkani Natak Sabha and how it enriched Konkani culture.
Mangalore has flowered in the Catholic Church's history in India, also giving many of its sons and daughters, many from illustrious families, to the Salesian fold.
Don Bosco clubs have in the region provided spiritual and educational care to the young, sports facilities and opportunities for growth of talent in whatever they have undertaken. That is why so many parishes and schools consider Don Bosco as their patron saint. Publications have mushroomed in the Salesian fold, schools are known for their excellence.
Sister Philomena D'Souza is a member of the ACSSA, an International Association of the Promoters of Salesian History. This book is not a first. Sister's book – Mary, Behold the Woman was recognised by the Pontifical Marian Academy and was awarded by Pope St. John Paul II in 2002.
Sister Philomena's book emphasises the importance of team work and derives 3 important lessons: that youth pastoral work is always a community endeavour; that younger members who are directly in touch with the young perceive the need better but if the work has to have a far reaching lasting impact, it should be supported and guided by senior members and that no technique or skill can substitute the primary calling to be images of Don Bosco in the implementation of their mission.
Don Bosco centres and clubs integrate many dimensions, the spiritual through the study of scriptures, youth retreats, library and reading room facilities; the social through outreach programmes and networking with social agencies and honouring significant achievers of society.
The book 'Don Bosco in Mangalore' has meticulously researched the early influence of the Saint in the region and part of this research was presented in Turin in October 2015 and published for an international audience. This research significantly has been undertaken during the bicentenary of the birth of Don Bosco.
As the fruit of Don Bosco's charism, the book traces the first early vocations to the order from Mangalore. Many of these men and women played an important role in the growth of the Salesian family in India. Not only in the South, Mumbai and the North East, the Salesians have spread like wildfire and continue to attract good vocations to this day in what is fast becoming a vocation starved country.
Janina Gomes is a writer for the Speaking Tree column of the Times of India.
The book has been Published by Tej-Prasarini, Don Bosco Communications, Mumbai, India. (Pages 145, Price Rs. 250/-)