Saturday, December 30, 2017


by Amarr Prabhu


MUMBAI, DEC 30, 2017: The Government of Maharashtra had recently introduced a National Skill qualification Framework (NSQF) aligned syllabus level 1 and 2 for standards nine and ten across government managed and aided technical schools. With a major shift in syllabus, the Directorate of Vocational Education and Training (GoM,) through its regional office of Mumbai conducted a pre-vocational instructor training programme on elements of mechanical technology, syllabus (NSQE Base) for 47 school instructors at Saint Joseph's ITI (SJITI)-Don Bosco Centre for Learning from December 19 to 21.


The three-day practical programme gave participants an insight about the outcomes of the course and the teaching learning methodologies to be adopted. The chief guest for the event was Gaikwad, inspector quality and inspection, regional office Mumbai. Gaikwad alongside Father Mario Vaz and Manjrekar, an officer at DEVEO, and Amarr Prabhu, principal- SJITI inaugurated the programme.   


The programme began with the traditional lighting of the lamp. Father Vaz welcomed the participants by briefly sharing the development of SJITI to its present status as the 'Don Bosco Centre for Learning' campus. Gaikwad explained the importance of the new initiative of vocational technical studies by the government and the responsibility of teachers. He also explained why Don Bosco, Kurla was selected as the training partner.


GA Soman gave an insight as to how Don Bosco Maritime Academy plays a major role in training candidates to compete and win at international competitions. Prabhu introduced the faculty members that would conduct the training and the schedule of the programme.


Shrivastava then spoke about the National Skill Qualification forum and its role in training, formulating the syllabus as well as the rationale of a competency based curriculum. The post lunch session was all about welding. Kamble and his instructors divided the participants into small groups to get first hand experience of how a welding facility should be set up and how training from the basic to complex welding can be imparted. The group was then introduced to the fitting section. Pranay Patil explained the various tools and measuring instruments used in the fitting section and some of the typical exercises that are performed by trainees.

The second day began with Walter D'mello explaining about safety rules to be followed on the shop floor, the use of fire extinguishers and other fire safety procedures. The plumbing section was the next stop. The importance of correct use of plumbing tools and information of all plumbing accessories including the very modern high end ones were demonstrated.

Rajan Patil explained the various tools, wood joints and types of wood in the carpentry section. The rest of the afternoon was dedicated to a visit to the Godrej and Boyce factory workshop situated at Vikhroli. This gave the visitors an understanding of how technical skills are put to use in the industry as well as how skill competencies play a major role in production.


The third day began with a brief session by Dr Devyani on other aspects, such as counselling sessions also known as 'Beyond Skills'. The participants were then divided into two groups. One group was exposed to sheet metal work under Shekar Karkera, and  given a brief introduction to sheet metal tools and two jobs- a tray and shovel were made. The other group was introduced to lathe machines, lathe tools and lathe operations by Edmond Anthoni. The groups were also offered an introduction to mechanical joining and adhesive bonding.


Viraf conducted a session on various industrial practices like Kaizen and Project work, and explained the advantages gained from encouraging students to think and give suggestions thus contributing to best practices and innovations.


The entire programme concluded with a valedictory function. AJ Sawants, assistant director, vocational trades, Father Colbert da silva, Rector – Director DBCL, Gaikwad, Manjrekar, and Prabhu were on the dais. After a brief introduction, the programme host invited the participants to share their experiences.

All who responded were unanimous about the depth of knowledge the instructors had concerning the different trades. They commended the manner in which the facilities were set up and the effective teaching-learning methodologies adopted.  


Father Da Silva then touched upon the Don Bosco culture. He stated that he was happy that even though Don Bosco cannot reach students in the interior parts of the state, they could achieve it through the teacher-training programme.


Sawant expressed his gratitude to the entire team of SJITI and the resource personnel. He also praised the state-of-the-art labs and workshops set up by Don Bosco. He felt conducting this training programme at Don Bosco Centre for Learning was fully justified and he urged the state government to organise more such trainings at Don Bosco, Kurla.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017


by Father Rolvin D'Mello


MUMBAI, DEC 26, 2017: The Don Bosco Development Society (DBDS) celebrated the Children's Festival 2017 for nearly 400 poor children from the slums of Mumbai on December 23.


The parents of the children in attendance were beneficiaries of the DBDS slum project in the past. The festival was entitled 'Celebrating Childhood'. Apart from the games and fun, attractive prizes and meals, the children were also advised about issues relating to health and hygiene. 


Father Manuel Murzello, provincial economer, Father Rolvin D'Mello, executive director – DBDS, Jayesh Chandan, president of Don Bosco past-pupils – Matunga and Suhani Mendonca were present at the event. The celebrations began with a prayer, led by a girl from the slums of Dharavi.


Father D'Mello in his address thanked Mendonca for sponsoring the breakfast for the children and the past-pupils unit of Matunga for sponsoring the lunch and attractive prizes for the children. The other guests urged the children to enjoy their childhood and focus on their studies.


"Today we are celebrating Christmas, Diwali and Eid all together for these poor kids and hence we have called it – Children's Festival," Surekha Pednekar, coordinator – DBDS, said.

Saturday, December 23, 2017


by Father Francis Fernandes


PUNE, DEC 23, 2017: Sacred Heart Parish Yerwada created history on December 20 when it celebrated its first Priestly Ordination. Deacon Anthony Patole, a parishioner, was ordained a Priest of God by Retired Bishop Thomas Dabre of Poona, in the presence of 50 priests and a large congregation. 


The ordination ceremony was solemnised on the school grounds. Father Godfrey D'Souza, the Salesian Provincial, expounded on the theme 'The Church as the Bride'. He exhorted Deacon Patole to serve this Bride in all humility.


Bishop Thomas, in his homily, explained that the Church doesn't require priests to be principals of schools and colleges. Priests are needed to celebrate the Sacraments, the most important being the Holy Eucharist.

After the customary felicitations and vote of thanks, the entire congregation was invited to dinner. 

It was a red letter day for the parishioners of Sacred Heart Yerwada as they witnessed their very own son being raised to the Order of the Priesthood. Together they prayed with hope in their hearts that many other youngsters are motivated to serve God, in the footsteps of Don Bosco.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


by BIS Correspondent


CHOTTAUDEPUR, DEC 20, 2017: The annual Rathwi women convention was organised by Lok Seva Kendra Chhota at the Don Bosco Chhotaudepur campus with over 400 women participants from 31 villages. The theme for the day was 'The Foundation of a Household is an Educated Woman'. In a dazzling display of many-splendoured colour, the women came together to celebrate their dignity, with a keen desire to get better empowered.


Father Joseph Marian, legal aid counsellor and reputed mentor-trainer based in Nadiad, was the Chief Guest for the programme. Addressing the gathering, Father Marian stressed the need for women to fight for their rights, especially against exploitation and overcoming socio-economic debts. He said, "If you women have a focussed goal for self-development and become aware of your constitutional rights, then no one can suppress you. Get more involved in the Self Help Groups (SHG) activities, engaging in income generation activities (IGA) like soap-making, sewing/embroidery, vermicomposting etc and become empowered."


Guest Speaker, Isudas Waghela from Ahmedabad focussed on the unity and organisation of women as a cohesive force to enable change for themselves and for their households. In his session, Waghela dealt with topics like gender equality, education, leadership, self-esteem and equality. "Ensure that you are not only aware of your situation, rather demand change and be the change, for only you can claim your rights. You are aware of the inequality that exists in society, especially with regard to property rights, and if you don't do anything about it, then nothing will change. Develop yourselves, arm yourselves with confidence and come together as a force for developmental change," he emphasised.

Resplendent in their colourful attire, the huge gathering of women then participated in fete games. A hindi musical dealing with the theme of love and compassion, 'Prem Kranti' was performed by the junior college students, inviting the women to be beacons of love, understanding and compassion.

Brother Ramesh Durairaj, Director of Lok Seva Kendra Chhota, thanked the women and expressed his happiness at their participation in this event saying, "You are the change. You have been participating in the many programmes we have organised and this coming together is for your benefit. Together you can achieve more for a better society, for yourselves and your children. Thank you for the challenges you have addressed already in your villages, hopefully this convention with its inputs and learnings will enable all of us to change our local situations for the better."  He also expressed his thanks to Prakash Ahire, coordinator of Lok Seva Kendra Chhota for the mobilisation and organisation of the event.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017


by BIS Correspondent


CHHOTAUDEPUR, DEC 19, 2017: The Don Bosco Chhotaudepur campus witnessed over 700 bright-eyed enthusiastic children gathering together under the Lok Seva Kendra Chhota banner for the Village Education Programme (VEP) Annual Children's Day event entitled "Accept Childhood, Know Life" on December 17.


Father Brian Buthello, Rector of Don Bosco Chhotaudepur welcomed the gathering, while Brother Ramesh Durairaj, Director of Lok Seva Kendra introduced the guests of honour. Among the main speakers for the day were Father George Miranda, Director of Don Bosco Snehalaya Vadodara; Dr Amit Rathwa, alumnus of Don Bosco Chhotaudepur and Praful Macwan, former teacher at Don Bosco Chhotaudepur.


Father George Miranda, Gujarat State Government awardee for working with vulnerable children, addressed the massive gathering of children and VEP teachers saying, "Each of you must have a dream, just as the former President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam had a dream. Only when you have a dream you can achieve something. However achieving is not everything. Each of you must be able to give in return. Even if you have nothing great to give, try to give a smile to another and brighten up their day. When we become loving and affectionate with others, then God gives us what we desire, and more importantly we will gain definite satisfaction for ourselves."


Doctor Rathwa, in his speech, focussed on the importance of education and the personal commitment to study well. Reminiscing the time spent at Don Bosco Chhotaudepur as a student, Doctor Rathwa invited the children to, 'learn the important things of life, live by values and principles if you want to achieve something in life'. He also remarked, "The difference between Don Bosco's system and other institutions is the quality, attention and faith principles that enrich one's life for the better."


Further Macwan shared his personal experience and relationship with Don Bosco. "I can never forget the love, affection, and family atmosphere here at Don Bosco Chhotaudepur. It is a real joy to be here and spend time with you all for it reminds me of the days I spent here as a teacher, confused as I was distinguishing between Gujarati and Rathwi," he said.


The large gathering of children enjoyed the well-prepared fete game stalls manned by Don Bosco Chhotaudepur boarders and each child managed to win some gift or the other. A sumptuous lunch ensured their day was done, even as they gathered in the auditorium to witness a well-coordinated musical performance by the junior college students based on the 'Prodigal Son' in Hindi keeping the children enjoyably engaged in the afternoon.


Felicitations of the VEP teachers and certificates for the meritorious children in the evening, was soon followed by the obligatory foot-tapping lively Rathwi dance for all. Doctor Rathwa along with his wife, presented Father Buthello and Brother Durairaj with a gift in appreciation and gratitude for their committed service for the betterment of children. 


The children thoroughly enjoyed the day's programme thanks to the effort of the VEP teachers and the Lok Seva Kendra Chhotaudepur. Brother Durairaj proposed the Vote of Thanks, appreciating the teachers for their enterprising dedication and the children for their enthusiastic participation.


by Sweedle D'Souza 


KUWAIT, DEC 19, 2017: The monthly meeting by Ray of Light, Faith and Light Community, which is a community of people with intellectual disabilities, was held to share friendships, pray together and celebrate life in the Dana Hall, Shaab in Kuwait on December 15.


The meeting centred on the Word of the month, 'Lord you came into our world to reveal to us your Father and our Father'. To emphasise the theme of the event, a manger with baby Jesus was placed at the entrance and each family member and friend was asked to write down what gift they would like to give Jesus for His birthday and they offered it during Holy Mass.


Father Joy Marangatikala, the former Spiritual Director of the community, who is presently visiting Kuwait and the current Spiritual Director, Father Johnson Nedumpurath were present at the meeting. Father Nedumpurath welcomed his predecessor and expressed his thanks for introducing him to Faith and Light, and for animating the meeting.


Brothers and sisters with intellectual disabilities played an active role at Holy Mass. Kenny Dias and Brandon served at the altar and Xyruz Mago read the prayers of the faithful. The Gospel reading was brought to life with a short enactment of the Birth of Jesus by Emmanuel Alleluya as Joseph, Sheetal D'Souza as Mary, Xyruz Mago and Rachel Tuscano as angels, Kenny Dias and Bennedict Fernandes as shepherds. In his sermon Father Marangatikala encouraged those present to prepare themselves to receive baby Jesus in their hearts by making a good Confession, and by acts of love and kindness during this holy month of Advent.

The word of the month, "Lord, You came into our world to reveal to us your Father and our Father," was further animated by Anthony Alleluya, who urged the audience to learn to discover His face and His presence in all brothers and sisters especially in the weakest.


The programme also included a group discussion, a game, the cutting of a cake for those celebrating their birthdays and anniversaries during the month, and finally, the sharing of a meal prepared and brought by family and friends of the community. 


Everyone received a symbolic gift, which included a glass bowl, a candle, a Christmas ornament and three chocolates. The glass bowl symbolised service, the candle signified the shedding of the light of Christ, the Christmas ornament symbolised a blessed Christmas and the chocolates served as a reminder of the Holy Trinity.


by Father Bernard Fernandes


MUMBAI, DEC 19, 2017: Don Bosco, Matunga is an institution that imbibes the spirit of sharing and giving, two virtues that form the crux of the Christmas season as well. On December 15 and 16, hundreds of students and staff from the institution organised the Christmas Panorama, a the blue riband event aimed at ushering in the Christmas spirit at the Matunga campus.

The Panorama included inter-class activities on and off the stage, with scores of students, class teachers and generous parents participating in festive activities prior to the days of the mega event. As a prelude to the main act, traditional Christmas activities like decorating the crib, star and the Christmas tree were held. This year mocktail and salad dressing competitions were included in the schedule. The judges, spectators and onlookers at these diverse activities were fed a steady diet of artistic delights and culinary skills.

Days of practice, planning and meticulous preparation for the main on-stage performance eventually translated into a memorable and enriching enactment of the Christmas story. The programme was spread over two days of the Christmas Panorama. On the first day, the audience was treated to some extravagant display of colour, art and music at the Christmas hat parade, carol singing, karaoke, and the two dance competitions – Dancerize, a combination of dance and exercise, and 'Best of 1980s'. The Stylish student of the year – an event organised for the students of standard nine – was yet another programe that was eagerly awaited by the audience, especially the young students.

The second day's programme had an additional flavour of Christmas tradition. Standard eight presented their class assembly on the Christmas theme, while the band conducted by Saby Franco chipped in with some melodious Christmas carols. This was interspersed with raffle draw and the awards of the different competitions.

The beneficiaries of this year's Christmas Care-n-Share Panorama were the railway children of Jeevodaya at Itarsi. There are 80 children in the two homes – for boys and girls each – besides a centre for 20-30 addicted children. In the absence of the director of Jeevodaya, Sister Clara and the assistant, Roger Jones, a cheque of six lakh rupees was presented to the Rector, Father Crispino D'souza, by the administrator, Father Roy Noronha. Father Bernard Fernandes, the Principal then read the letter of Sister Clara addressed to the management, staff and students citing their works and expressing their gratitude for being selected as the recipients of the cheque.

The stage was then lit for the remainder of the events of the day – the two dance competitions 'Folk dance' and 'All the right moves' and the mega blockbuster 'The Bosco King' competition for the selected students of standard 10. The dapper students with a sprightly spring walked the ramp in traditional and formal attire and answered questions directed at them. Harsh Mehta was named 'Bosco King' and Ahmad Kazi was named 'Stylish Student of the year'. The Christmas Panorama provided all an apt reason to be joyful and merry this Christmas – in sharing their wealth and love with one another!

Monday, December 18, 2017


by Karen Laurie


MUMBAI, DEC 18, 2017: The Salesian congregation of the province of Mumbai and the Catholic Church were gifted with two new priests, Father Evangelo D'Souza and Father Ranson D'Souza, through their priestly Ordination at the Shrine of Don Bosco's Madonna in Mumbai on December 16.

"Among the liturgies of the Church, the Sacrament of Ordination is one of the most impressive," Bishop Agnelo Gracias, said. Bishop Gracias presided over the Sacrament, in the presence of over 40 priests and a packed congregation. 

The Rite of Ordination commenced with the Superior testifying to the Bishop that the candidates were worthy; following which the Bishop accepted to ordain them. The candidates then resolved to live their priestly commitment by celebrating the mysteries of the faith, preaching the Word of God and serving the people. They further made a vow of obedience to their religious community, the Bishop and the Church. 


The candidates prostrated themselves as the Litany of Saints was sung, uniting in prayer, the Church in heaven and on earth. Through the laying of hands, the Bishop invoked the Holy Spirit and prayed the prayer of Consecration, reminding all how God has always provided ministers for the Church. With the investiture of the stole and chasuble, anointing of hands with chrism and presentation of paten and chalice by the Bishop, the Church welcomed two new priests. 

In his homily, Bishop Gracias spoke of the mission of the newly ordained priests. "What does it take to be a priest of God? Today's readings taken from the third Sunday of Advent, spelt out so beautifully, 'The Spirit of the Lord, has been given to me. He has anointed me.' In the Old Testament who were anointed? Priests, prophets, kings. All those sent for a mission. What is that mission which will be given to Father Evangelo and Father Ranson? Isaiah speaks of it in a three-fold form, to proclaim the good news to the poor, to heal those who are broken hearted, to set at liberty captives. That mission fits in so well with their very names. Evangelo remind us of evangelisation and proclamation of the Word. And Ranson is linked with liberation. Ransom was paid for the liberation of slaves. And the New Testament reminds us that Jesus himself paid a ransom of his own blood to liberate us," Bishop Gracias, said.  


Salesian Provincial Father Godfrey D'Souza, thanked Bishop Gracias for ordaining the new priests for the religious order. "One of the reasons Bishop likes to come here to the campus, is because he was ordained Bishop in this very Shrine, " Father D'Souza, said.

The new priests, Father Evangelo and Ranson, thanked the Bishop, their Salesian superiors and confreres, family and the gathering for their support through their years of formation, through to Ordination. 


The Kiss of the Peace by the Bishop and the customary kissing of hands of the newly anointed priests was testimony to the reverence for the Sacrament of Holy Orders in the hearts of those present. 

Friday, December 15, 2017


by Karen Laurie 


MUMBAI, DEC 15, 2017: When Father Tom Uzhunnalil, a Salesian Priest, kept hostage for 557 days by terrorists in Yemen, was finally released from captivity on September 12, 2017, the world listened carefully for his testimony. Would it be one of resentment, bitterness, pain or torture? His abductors had after all gunned down 16 people, including four Missionaries of Charity nuns, in front of his eyes, before scurrying him away to an undisclosed location. Could anyone emerge from captivity unscathed?   


Father Uzhunnalil could and has!  


In Mumbai, in December, to receive the Mother Teresa Memorial Award, for his dedication and commitment to a place of great danger; 59-year-old Father Uzhunnalil is a far cry from the feeble, bitter hostage that many had imagined he would be after being held captive for over a year. While he is physically weaker, he is spiritually stronger.

"My blessed, loving Father would not give us anything bad, it may look as sufferings, but ultimately for me I see that I was not fortunate enough or worthy enough to be a martyr. I have no complaints. I never complained to the Lord. 'Why this sometimes,' yes, but I know, without his knowledge nothing bad would happen to me. While others fell to the bullets, why he has kept me unhurt? That was what strengthened me. It was not my personal strength and nothing to do with me," Father Uzhunnalil reflected.

"What kept me is this fact that the words of the Gospel, where, Jesus tells the people and his disciples, 'don't worry about clothing' and he sums up saying, 'even every hair on your head is counted and not one will fall to the ground without the knowledge of the Heavenly Father', so whenever that happens it's with the okay from the Heavenly Father."  

Father Uzhunnalil, ordained in 1990, was first dispatched to Yemen in 2010, where he was responsible for catering to the spiritual needs of sisters from the Missionaries of Charity. He returned to India in 2015, before the war escalated. While thousands of Indian citizens were asked to leave the middle-eastern country, Father Uzhunnalil felt an inner calling to volunteer to return, despite the dangers. 

His second stint began on July 1, 2017, after a UN Red Cross aircraft took him to Yemen. But the dangers of war were clearly apparent, even prompting the sisters to discuss the possibility of becoming targets of terrorists.

"Sister Superior had mentioned one night, may be two weeks before (the attack), 'Father how nice it would be if we all die together,' the youngest sister said, 'I don't want to die here,' and I said that, if it's the Lord's will, we cannot say no."

Sister Superior's words came true on March 4, 2016, as terrorists stormed the old-age home that catered to 70 inmates, firing and killing 16 people, including four sisters. Father Uzhunnalil, for some unknown reason to him, was left untouched.

"It was First Friday. We had holy Eucharistic adoration. Then the sisters went to be with the elderly people. I was still in the chapel praying. And while coming out of the sisters compound to the other general compound, I heard a gunshot and a little shuffling sound. I kept walking and there was a man with an automatic gun and bullets around his shoulders.  He held my hand and told me to sit on a chair that was near the security room. The gunshot I heard was them shooting the security man," Father Uzhunnalil, said.

"I sat there. There was a gardener who was running to switch off the water pump. They probably thought he was running away and he was shot from behind. He fell, bled profusely and in some time, he died. Another youngster, who was helping the sisters, was sleeping in a room, they brought him out and I could see the bullet hit him, he fell down and died. They brought the four sisters out, took two of them a little far away but within my vicinity. I heard two gunshots, they fell and then the other two sisters, were where I could see them, they shot them behind the head."

"I saw them fall. As I was watching all this, I just prayed to the Lord, have mercy on them, on the sisters as well as all those who were killing. I know it is not my strength. The Lord never gave me any fear or anxiety. I was not shivering. I was just watching and praying."

The terrorists then forced Father Uzhunnalil into the boot of a car, before they returned to wreak more havoc on the home. They eventually drove him some distance, before shifting him to another vehicle. He was blindfolded and taken to a house, where he was made to sit in a room. Then they questioned him, took away his mobile phone and gave him a different set of clothes to wear.

"First one or two days they tied my hands and feet and blindfolded me and I was not allowed to see them nor was I allowed to see the place and the location." Father Uzhunnalil was moved to multiple locations during his time in captivity. He lost count of the date and time, but he knew the Lord would not abandon him in his hour of need.      

"I used to keep recalling in my mind, that English hymn, 'One day at a time sweet Jesus'. I would wake up thank the Lord for the day, say the Angelus, say prayers for the dead, the Divine Mercy Rosary, Stations of the Cross and a Spiritual Mass. Since there was no bread and wine, no missal, I knew the prayers of the Mass, the prayers of the readings, I would meditate on it, bring to mind the Old Testament, New Testament, the Gospels and miracles."

"I would do the prayer of intercession for all and I would then complete the Holy Sacrifice spiritually and receive the spiritual Communion."

While Father Uzhunnalil prayed for the world outside, the world outside – and the faithful in India in particular - prayed for his release. Minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and over a year later, he was released!      

"I see in all these events the hand of God. He has a mission for each one of us. Perhaps, the mission entrusted for me was to go back (to Yemen) and to give strength to the sisters and since I was not killed, the Lord wanted me to pray for these people, for the groups (captors) that they may change their attitudes."

"I know my own people, the whole Salesian family, the Holy Father have prayed for me. Even Hindu and Muslim brothers and sisters, everyone prayed for me and it is their prayers that have kept me calm and kept me from sickness and pains. I could have been disturbed mentally and have gone off my head but none of those things has happened, no nightmares, nothing. It's the Lord's grace, due to the prayers of everyone," Father Uzhunnalil, said. 

"God turns things for the good of all and I see that the 18 months that I have gone through, my going back to Yemen and coming out, God has used this opportunity to strengthen the faith of people and as a proof that He exists, He is a living God and He answers prayers."


Father Uzhunnalil' is a testimony that serves to inspire generations about the love and mercy of God. His visit to Mumbai did just that, as he addressed hundreds of faithful at the Shrine of Don Bosco's Madonna on the December 8. He addressed Salesians in formation on December 9 and youth at SYMBIOS, a Salesian gathering for the young  on Dec 10.

"Those who were praying for him for so many months, when they see him in person, it strengthens their faith that our prayers have been answered," Father Savio Silveira, the Salesian Vice Provincial, said.

"Father Tom is very positive. Even when he talks about his captors he always says good things about them that they took care of me, they provided for my needs, they were kind to me. He says I was spending my time praying. It is a very inspirational moment for us as priests as well  because he calls you back to your spiritual roots."

Thursday, December 14, 2017


by Father McEnroe Lopes


MUMBAI, DEC 14, 2017: Salesian Youth movement (SYM) organised a mega-youth event entitled SYMBIOS, with the theme of Health, Harmony, Holiness at the Don Bosco School, Matunga on December 9 and 10.  


The first day of the event was reserved exclusively for juniors, whereas the senior youth participated on the final day. Both days began by invoking the blessings of the Divine after which the participants reflected on the theme with meaningful presentations through skits, dances and mimes. They enlightened everyone on the importance of good health, living in harmony and one's call to holiness by doing ordinary duties extraordinarily.


The participants then took part in workshops conducted on various themes. The Red Ribbon association focused on Health, the Blue Ribbon movement on Harmony and AVEC Mumbai on Holiness. The interactive workshops focused on developing healthy food habits, choices one needs to make to be an instrument of peace and harmony and uplifting one's life. 


Participants put their creativity to test by participating in theme- based activities like rangoli, clay modelling, best out of waste and painting. A lively beat of Zumba proved the energy and joy of being young. The event concluded with the presentation of the SYMBIOS souvenir to all participating Salesian communities.

A highlight of SYMBIOS was the presence and testimony of Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who celebrated the holy Eucharist for the senior youth on the second day. The youth were inspired as they listened attentively to Father Uzhunnalil's testimony about faith, bravery and perseverance. The youth also were given time to interact with the visiting priest. 


Father Uzhunnalil made headlines world-over after terrorists held him captive for over a year in Yemen after they stormed a Missionaries of Charity home in Aden and killed 16 people, including four Missionaries of Charity sisters. He was finally released from captivity on September 12 this year.


by Cleric Felix Almeida


NASHIK, DEC 14, 2017: Eighty youth from different regions of the Salesian and FMA Mumbai province gathered together at Maria Vihar, Nasik to celebrate 'Faith Fest', an event to help them strengthen their faith on December 9.


The faith celebration began with an inauguration ceremony at 5:30pm, with the girls from Maria Vihar boarding presenting a prayer dance to help the participants enter into a moment of prayer. Sister Salomi D'Souza, the FMA novice mistress declared the 'Faith Fest' open. The inaugural message dwelt on faith which is about being faithful, available, indebted, together and holy.


In his speech, Father Ashley Miranda, the Chief Guest, mentioned how faith is a significant element of life and that faith and action go hand in hand. In her welcome note, Sister Philomena D'Souza emphasised on how Nashik is a centre of faith for many people and therefore for us gathered here it is now an experience of strengthening our faith.


Sister Nilima Rodrigues, the chief coordinator, then introduced the organisers. An ice-breaker session was held to help the youth make new friends. The participants were divided into eight different groups. Activities were conducted to help them reflect on the aspects of faith in their lives and what God means to them. To further inspire the youth, biblical games were organised. Seeking the guidance of our Blessed Mother, the youth then prayed the candle light holy Rosary and contemplated on the Joyful Mysteries.


At supper the youth had time for recreation and to mingle with others. The day ended with praise and worship adoration service in which the youngsters offered their weaknesses and failures before the Lord. Sticking to the Salesian tradition, Father Jacob Palaparambil shared a goodnight message asking youngsters to be bearers of Christ in their respective setups.


The next day began with an animated morning prayer after which the youngsters had meditation in their respective groups. During the meditation, the youngsters reflected on the Gospel passage of Jesus being lost in the temple. The later session was intense in nature with youngsters being given personal time to reflect on life and relationships especially in the family. This meaningful journey continued with the sacrament of reconciliation wherein the youngsters spend quality time with themselves in silence. The holy Eucharist was then celebrated by Father Kenneth Pereira who helped the participants to understand the different parts of the Eucharist and its significance.


Post lunch a session was organised by the brothers with the theme 'You too can be a Saint'. The session focused on how holiness is a matter of opening ones heart to God. After the session, participants spent some time sharing their experiences. The last input session was given by Father Robert Pen who spoke on motivating oneself which is a crucial element in the life of every youngster. The 'Faith Fest' celebration ended with a closing ceremony and prize distribution. The youngsters were grateful for the experience and expressed their sentiments personally to those who contributed to the process of growth in their lives.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


by BIS Correspondent


DAKOR, DEC 13, 2017: The life-story of Don Bosco's pupil Mickey Magone who reformed himself from a street hooligan to an aspiring saint in the 18th century is now available in Gujarati. The fruit of a long-drawn laborious effort by Father Dinesh Vasava, Mickey Magone is a short, crisp booklet featuring incidents from the young lad's life prior to and after meeting with Don Bosco in the alleyways of Turin during the aftermath of the industrial revolution.


Mickey Magone, the Gujarati version was launched with much fanfare as part of the concluding moments of SYMBIOS GuRaM at the Don Bosco Dakor campus on December 10. Father Godfrey D'Souza, Salesian Provincial Mumbai; Pioneering Salesian Missionary in Dakor, Father Ivan deSouza; Father Ignas Macwan, Father Charles Anthony, Father Edwin, Sister Sunanda FMA, Sister Melna SMI; and Jasvantbhai  Macwan, Editor of the Gujarati Catholic Monthly Dhoot participated in the book launch ceremony.


Compeering the event, Father Pravin Macwana, Rector at Don Bosco Narukot described the book launch as a relevant meaning-making occasion within the context of the mega-youth fest, with 450 youth from across the institutions managed by the Salesian Family in the GuRaM region of NorthWest-Central India. "Every sinner has a past; every sinner has a future, and this book reveals how this is possible through Don Bosco's Educational System," remarked Father Macwana. Jasvantbhai Macwan, who painstakingly copy-edited the tome, said, "The life of Mickey Magone as this book describes, and the tremendous transformation in his personal life after meeting with Don Bosco is so inspirational, I wonder why he has not been declared a saint by the Church! The boy who was considered a gang-leader and a ruffian, reinvents himself as a do-gooder through a virtuous renewal of his life and this book will definitely prove relevant to everyone who reads it."


In the Q & A session that followed the launch, the author of Mickey Magone, Father Dinesh Vasava interacted with the 450 plus audience, sharing his personal life-experiences and youth-encounters as a Salesian of Don Bosco. Replying to a question on his own personal 'Mickey'-like encounters, he said, "Yes, of course, during my tenure here in Dakor, as a young Salesian, I have indeed encountered so many boys who were alike Mickey Magone, and moreover in my stint at Don Bosco Snehalaya at Vadodara in the interactions with these boys whom society rejects and neglects, I really discovered the greatness of Don Bosco's youth work."


When asked about his inspiration, Father Vasava reminisced about his childhood and latter years, responding, "Looking at my own childhood and experiences in the boarding and later when I decided to join the Salesians of Don Bosco, I can say that yes, Mickey Magone is an inspiration for change. I was inspired to write this book for the young and for Salesians in local Gujarati, since this can possibly affect the lives of so many youth and enable them to connect with each other, while responsibly committing themselves to societal transformation."


The young participants at SYMBIOS GuRaM were ebullient in their applause for the effort of the author, even as Father Macwana brought the occasion to a close reminding the participants that this is the moment for life-transformation and Mickey Magone can be their inspiration.


by Cleric Mukesh Garasiya


MUMBAI, DEC 13, 2017: Twenty girls and boys from Don Bosco Parish, Borivli, preparing to receive their First Holy Communion, visited Bosco Boys Home, a non formal technical school catering to the needs of school dropouts, economically marginalised and orphans with little opportunities in making a living, on December 10.


Teachers, Veena Prabhu and Sabina D'Silva, accompanied the youth on the visit. The group from the parish arrived at 11.30am. Father Lloyd Rodrigues, the vice rector welcomed them. Thereafter, Prabhu began the programme by asking a few children to come forward and to sing Christmas carols. She then played a video on the theme of love and hope.


All children were then divided into four groups namely; Love, Peace, Joy and Hope. The purpose of the visit was to encourage interaction among the children. Youth were asked the names of friends that they had made. Prizes were given to those who answered correctly. The parish group also brought some stationery for the boys. Towards the end, another video was shown on the story of Christmas. Prabhu reiterated the message presented in the video saying, "Great things have humble beginnings."  

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


BFather Rolvin D'Mello


MUMBAI, DEC 12, 2017: The Don Bosco Development Society (DBDS), Mumbai organised the graduation day ceremony of the vocational skill classes in which nearly 400 students obtained their certificates. Father Savio Silveira, Vice Provincial of province of Mumbai, was the chief guest and he presented the certificates to the students. 


The programme began with a short prayer service at the Bianchi hall in the Don Bosco International School building. Surekha Pednekar, coordinator –DBDS, welcomed the gathering. She shared information on various vocational courses like spoken english, basic computer, tally, beauty culture (hair and skin), mehendi and tailoring, which were conducted from June - November 2017.


In his address, Father Silveira expressed his joy on seeing so many students empowered through these skills. He also congratulated the DBDS team for their good work. The programme ended with a short entertainment and cultural show put up by the students. It also included a display of the skills learnt during the training period. 


"I am grateful to Don Bosco for teaching me computers and especially the accounting package of tally – absolutely free of cost. This will definitely help me in building my bright future," Komal Manjule, student of the computer course, said.

Monday, December 11, 2017


by Father Joaquim Fernandes 


MUMBAI, DEC 11, 2017: Father Tom Uzhunnalil, a Salesian from the Province of Bangalore abducted in Aden in March 2016 and released in September 2017 has been awarded the Mother Teresa Memorial Award 2017 for Social Justice by the Harmony Foundation on the December 10, in Mumbai.


This year's theme is ''Compassion across borders - a compassionate response to the refugee crisis.'' Father  Uzhunnalil has shown dedication and commitment to a place of great danger. Abraham Mathai, president of the Harmony Foundation, a Mumbai based organisation that commemorates the Saint of Calcutta with the award since 2007,  felicitated Father Uzhunnalil and presented him with a citation and the memento for his bravery and resilience in the face of adversity. 


Father Uzhunnalil worked in Yemen together with the Missionaries of Charity - the Congregation founded by Mother Teresa - and was abducted on March 4, 2016, while inside one of their centers, where four religious sisters died in the attack. His fellow priest Father M K George who worked with him in Yemen was present during the award ceremony. 


He was chosen ''for the inspiring example of compassionate humanity, and for having continued to work for the elders of the Missionaries of Charity in Yemen, despite having had the opportunity to leave the country. "We praise Father Tom's dedication and commitment for work in a location of great danger, where his colleagues were murdered in cold blood,'' said the foundation in a written statement. 


The Harmony Foundation, founded in 2005 to promote and spread ideas of peace, dialogue and community support without distinction of religion, caste, gender or ethnicity, has in the past awarded the prize to individuals and organisations committed to human rights, such as the Dalai Lama, Doctors Without Borders, and the very young Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai. This year the awards were given to Shigeru Ban, UNHCR, IsroAID, Bayat Foundation, Caritas International, Mercy Corps and Hellenic Resource Team along with a few more eminent personalities. 


Meanwhile, Father Uzhunnalil is still engaged in official activities in India, and in Kerala, his state of origin. In each of his scheduled events so far, the Salesian continues to surprise all for his clear and peaceful Christian testimony, and for his declared willingness to carry out God's plan for his life in the future.  He thanked the Harmony Foundation for having felicitated him. ''Thanks for all your constant prayers. There is goodness in everyone, it is only through love and forgiveness we witness peace and we need to forgive our enemies. I believe in a Living God who has called me to be a witness to Him.'' Father Uzhunnalil, said. 


''I met Mother Teresa in the year 1983 and I am inspired by her love for God, her humility and simplicity and very friendly approach to people. Not all of us can do great things but we can do great things with love,'' Father Uzhunnalil said, as he quoted Mother Theresa.


by Mehtab Shinde


PUNE, DEC 11, 2017: Don Bosco Junior College, Yerwada switched to clean energy generation using solar electrification and a 31 Kilowatt solar plant, to power fans, air conditioners, lights, water pumps and computers at the institution on December 5.


The solar plant designed, delivered and installed by ONP Solar, is based on GridTie technology, which doesn't use batteries. The plant has a capacity to light up 31 homes with one KW. The plant consists of 96 unit high standard Tier-1 international brand solar photovoltaic panels coupled with a 25KW GridTie Solar inverter.

Father Francis Fernandes, the administrator, said, "We used the best of technology from ONP Solar. Our aim was to use the best quality products, for a simple reason that we need to secure value for money in a short-term by reducing our electricity bills and also contributing positively towards the environment in the long-term."


In a city like Pune, where power tariffs are high, a project of this nature would be very cost effective. It would also reduce carbon footprints. "The city's power situation can be transformed if we begin using electricity generated through solar plants. Most important here at Don Bosco, we will be saving 40 tonnes of carbon emission, year on year," Father Michael Bansode, the Rector, said.

Father Bosco D'Mello, the Principal, added, "The students of our institution will get to see a live solar plant on any given day and learn the benefits of going green and clean. The whole idea of installing solar cells was to teach the concept of sustainable development to our students, which would in turn reduce the forms of pollution in the environment. Children have tender minds, if we teach them good, they will do good to society and it all starts from the place they receive their education."


The college has also applied for net-metering facility, this will help to export excess power generated during weekends and holidays, to a MSEB Grid. Through this process our clean energy generation will add great value and avoid wastage of clean energy.


The initiative is aimed at making the institute adopt environment-friendly systems and to reduce the use of power from the grid. Electricity generation is the institutions way of reducing global warming and achieving a 'zero energy' status in the next couple of months.


by Neil Fernandes


NASHIK, DEC 11, 2017: "In His time, He makes all things beautiful, in His time," was the main message of Father Tom Uzhunnalil when he visited Divyadaan, Nashik, on December 9. 


Father Uzhunnalil arrived at Divyadaan at 1:15pm, along with Father M K George from the Bangalore province of the Salesians of Don Bosco and Father Savio Silveira, vice provincial of the province of Mumbai, after a meeting with Bishop Lourdes Daniel of the Nasik diocese. 


At 2 pm, the Divyadaan brothers along with the Capuchins, the Salesian novices, Salesian sisters (FMA), FMA novices, priests from the neighbouring communities, parishioners, ADMA and a few other religious assembled for a felicitation programme and an interactive session with Father Uzhunnalil. 


The FYBPh brothers set the tone of the programme with a chorale, 'Christ Be Our Light.' Thereafter Father Robert Pen of the community, formally welcomed the guests. In his introductory talk, Father Pen compared Father Uzhunnalil to a martyr and called him "a martyr who has roared back to life." Father Pen, then, went on to felicitate the guests.


Father Uzhunnalil addressed the gathering, beginning with his testimony. Father thanked all those who prayed for his release, especially the people of other faiths. He then narrated the history of the mission at Yemen, and how the sisters survived solely on Divine Providence. He also recalled the events of the fateful day March 4, 2016; when after Eucharistic Adoration he heard gunshots, was taken prisoner and witnessed the death of the Missionary of Charity sisters. 


Father Uzhunnalil mentioned being transported to a safe house in the trunk of a car. He joked that it was quite comfortable. He further explained the daily routine of his life for the next 18 months in captivity, which included prayer, food and a lot of sleep. There were also times when he was made to act in videos that were doctored by the terrorists. "Nothing will happen without the knowledge of your Heavenly Father," these words from the Gospel gave him strength and he was never afraid of being killed. 


Father Uzhunnalil said his captors never ill-treated him, but took care of all his needs. He then spoke of how, on September 10, he received the news of his release and finally on September 12, he was transported to Oman and then to Rome. He ended by saying that God has a plan for us, which will be revealed in His time. His final message was, "Share the love of God in whichever way he calls you."


After this, Father George shared his experience in Yemen, where he was a parish priest. The Al-Qaeda had attacked his Church and killed the care-taker. They contacted Father George during the execution of the care-taker, Ali. Father George was terrified and knew that they would come for him. He was in shock, shivering and unable to speak, until he prayed to God, "Let Your will be done" and all the shivering ceased. He escaped from the parish but was always in fear until he reached the capital of Yemen. A few days later, he received news that his parish was taken over by the terrorists, but luckily the sisters working there were transported elsewhere. He, too, emphasised on surrendering oneself to God's will.


Thereafter, there was an interactive session, wherein the audience put forth a few questions to Father Uzhunnalil on the nature of his state while in captivity. Father Uzhunnalil responded with serenity to all the questions. When asked what God's plan was for him now, he simply replied, "To testify that our God is a living God." He also said the only thing that one can do, to help all those taken captive by terrorists, is pray. It helped him and he believes that it will help others, too. 


The two great missionaries testified about their faith in God's Providence and kindled a missionary fire in everyone's hearts especially all the youngsters in formation.