by BIS Correspondent
MUMBAI, SEP 19, 2017: French poet, Victor Hugo once said, "No power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come." His words rang true in 1992, when Father Peter Gonsalves dreamed the dream and sowed the seed of Tej Prasarni, an English translation of 'spread the light', a media house which today - 25-year's on – under the leadership of Father Joaqium Fernandes has mushroomed into a state-of-the-art media entity which provides the good news via a host of publications, productions, a news agency and life-skill workshops.
As India awakened to a new dawn in 1991, with the liberalisation of the economy, Father Gonsalves and his superiors laid the groundwork for 'Tej' as it's fondly referred to today. It was his dealing with the locals in the drought-stricken Ahmednagar in Maharashtra that inspired Father Gonsalves to start Tej.
"I was working actually at the missions, where the villagers practice their faith through devotional songs or bhajans. We recorded these bhajans in the form of audio-cassettes. The idea was to create an audio cassette ministry where these cassettes would be sold to them at a very cheap rate, affordable for them, I'm talking of something like 10 rupees per tape. We world bear the main cost. And that was how it started. And we started in Pune with a small little studio that was set up there in 1992," Father Gonsalves said.
The success of the initiative prompted more audio productions. Tej collaborated with the late pioneering Marathi lyricist and radio evangelist from Pune - Jayantkumar Tribhuvan to produce high quality Marathi productions. Tej then moved base to Mumbai in 1993 and that further boosted music recordings in English and Hindi.
In 1995, Tej was approved as the official multimedia production centre of the Salesian Province of Mumbai. It expanded to producing books and audiovisual material in English, Marathi and Hindi. Its productions were based on a variety of themes, such as catechetics, youth development, media education and peace initiatives. It catered to the needs of different audiences like parents, youth-leaders and teachers of various educational institutions.
In 1997, Tej began focusing on training youth to expand their skills in creative arts and media education. Tej's initiative of skilling youth creatively, continues to this day, with new additions like a brain-training programme. In 1998, the Tej Prasarini book store was set up, which still provides the faithful with publications, audio-video productions and manuals for life skills. In the same year, Tejonline.com, the web portal for Tej Prasarini went live.
The demand for youth-related audio-video material led to the setting up of a recording studio, Tej-Kiran (Ray of Light) in 2000. The number of audio productions grew. Most of them dealt with educational programmes. A video recording suite was also set up.
Father Gonsalves was Director of Tej till 2001. He obtained a doctoral degree in the Faculty of the Sciences of Communication at the Salesian University, Rome in 2007, where he has been Dean since September 2015. In early 2017, Pope Francis appointed Father Gonsalves to be a Consultant to the Vatican Secretariat for Communications.
Father Darryl D'Souza, an expert in developing and implementing communication strategies for corporate, non-profit and education sectors, then took charge of Tej. In 2001, with the support of MISSIO, Tej-Prasarini Don Bosco Communications, initiated a Communication Campaign for Peace with a clear focus on youth and training of trainers. In the same year, the first audio- cassette and CD with Peace songs was released.
In 2001, Tej also collaborated with UNICEF for the promotion of 'AIDS awareness' among school children. Several other documentaries on social issues like 'Streets Alive', 'In Dialogue with the Rathwas', 'Youth for Life' and 'Salesians at the Service of the Young' were also produced. In 2003, the first 'Don Bosco Film Festival on Peace' was held. Thirteen short films on peace were made by students and the best film was aired on Doordarshan, the national television network.
Bosco Information Service (BIS), which is Don Bosco Mumbai Province's social communication wing, was inaugurated in October 2003. BIS still circulates news about the Mumbai Province via its website: http://bismumbai.blogspot.in/.
Father D'Souza was succeeded by Father Joaquim Fernandes, who was also the Vice Principal of Don Bosco, Matunga in 2006. In the same year, under the leadership of Father Fernandes, 'Pray Sing', a hymn production, was conceptualised. The audio-production brought together nearly 300 singers from seventeen parishes across Mumbai.
Tej spearheaded the media co-ordination of major events like the visit of the Rector Major Father Pascual Chavez, in 2007. In 2008, a workshop training 18 bishops in pastoral communication skills, new trends in media, internet, email, computer applications, powerpoint and video conferencing was held. Media and communication strategies for the first-ever Indian Mission Congress in 2009 and the visit of Don Bosco's relic to Mumbai in 2011, was managed by Tej. A book and media fair in 2012, commemorating its 20th anniversary was also organised.
Tej collaborated with other bodies like the Catholic Bishop's Conference of India (CBCI) Commission for Social Communications in 2011 to produce three volumes of 'Communication for Pastoral Leadership'. The books were inaugurated by Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, now President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
Father Fernandes took the initiative of book publishing to another level with publications like 'Jesus, the Prince of Peace', Exploring Salesian Life today', 'Don Bosco in Mangalore – before the arrival of the Salesians', 'Preventing substance abuse among school children', among others.
"Today we are into audio-video productions, book publications, social media, creative and media training programmes, and we also do the media management for major events. It has been busy but fruitful," says Father Fernandes who busies himself for Tej Prasarini's Silver Jubilee celebrations on September 22 in Mumbai, where Cardinal Oswald Gracias will be the Chief Guest.
Tej Prasarini has been spreading the light far and wide for 25 years, and it wants to continue lighting the world for many more years to come with the good news!