Saturday, February 25, 2017

BIS #5067 YOUTH MINISTRY: "WERE NOT OUR HEARTS BURNING"

by Father Leon Rodrigues 

 

MUMBAI, FEB 25, 2017: The Salesian Province of Bombay (INB) – Local Youth Ministry Delegates had an in depth two-day seminar cum workshop animated by Father Fabio Attard, the General Councillor for Youth Ministry, at Don Bosco Provincial House, Matunga from February 22-23. The 'Salesian Youth Ministry: Frame of Reference' was presented not so much as a book to be read academically but as a journey to be lived.


The seminar began on a reflective note with Father Attard inviting each participant to chalk down his three priorities in life. "Our ministry with the young is Divinely inspired, and our Salesian charism is our gift to the Church and world," he affirmed. He further challenged the  participants' understanding of Don Bosco when he reminded them that Don Bosco was not a 'mere collection of stories' but rather, a 'paradigm of the experience of faith and life'.

 

Over the two days, the Councillor for Youth Ministry invited the local youth delegates to a greater understanding of the Preventive System. "The Preventive System in not a mere focus on preventing bad things from happening, but rather, promoting good things to come alive." The Preventive system, he explained was 'a being with', a process of becoming, which transforms both the educator and the student. 

 

He stressed that the Salesian way is the 'way of the Gospel'. It might appear (to others) that we are 'wasting our time' with the young. It is like the Emmaus journey in which our Lord Jesus comes into the midst of his troubled disciples to help them understand and delve into greater meaning.

 

The entire seminar was a moment for the participating Salesians to revisit the world of the young,  their Salesian constitutions and the Gospel of Jesus. Father Attard, with his rich Salesian experience, deep intuition, personal stories and challenging questions led all to redefine their journey towards 'pastoral charity' and 'pedagogical intelligence'. The participants too shared their own stories, concerns and plans for a renewed and relevant youth ministry in the province.

 

In typical Salesian style, all the prayerful moments, fellowship and playful times on the turf ground were added experiences that enabled the group to refresh and renew their personal lives and ministry with the young. They could easily re-echo the words of the (Emmaus) disciples after Jesus left them: "Were not our hearts burning when he spoke to us" (Luke 24:32).

Friday, February 24, 2017

BIS #5066 REACHING OUT A HELPING HAND

by Avril Baptista 

 

 

MUMBAI, FEB 24, 2017: Around 30 parishioners of Saint  Dominic Savio parish, Wadala East, accompanied by their parish priest Father Savio Dsouza went for an outreach program to Jeeva Jyoti Care Centre at Karjat, a home for destitute women.

 

Being the 'Year of the Family', the Women's cell desired to do something for destitute women. Father Dsouza, suggested Jeevan Jyoti – a home run by the sisters' of the order of Ursulines of Mary Immaculate (UMI).

The members of the cell went around door- to- door collecting money for the cause which amounted to Rupees 85,000. It was agreed that it would better serve the purpose by visiting the home; to understand the needs and requirements of the women and sisters and the challenges they face.

Besides the members of the women's cell, those interested were invited to join. Upon reaching the destination, the Holy Eucharist was celebrated by Father Dsouza. The children from the home sang a welcome song and some of the women performed a song and dance.  

 

Besides the money that would help provide provisions for the year, the group had carried little knick-knacks for the children and the women. The parishioner's interacted with the women and the sisters, played games and danced to liven the atmosphere. Everyone had a simple but delicious lunch together.

 

Before leaving, Father Dsouza and some members of the women's cell reflected on the day's events and shared their thoughts. They returned back richer from the experience and grateful for the gift of family.

BIS #5065 SOCIAL BUSINESS SUMMIT 2017

by BIS Correspondent

 

MUMBAI, FEB 24, 2017: Don Bosco Institute of Technology -MMS organised the 'Social Business Summit 2017' on February 20, at its Kurla campus on the theme 'Digital Entrepreneurship for Social Change'. The annual event brings together corporates, non-governmental organisations and government agencies to facilitate networking and empowerment. 

The chief guest Anupam Nidhi, head of corporate sustainability, Reliance group stated the importance of going digital and the way it would help bring about change in society. She mentioned the initiatives taken by the Reliance Group to use digitization for the welfare of the society. 

The other key note speakers at the event were Jayanth Nataraj, co-founder, Sampurn(e)arth; Raj Shekhar , business consultant and coach, Realyze Consulting; Sanjeev Kamat, general manager (IT), TJSB Sahakari Bank Ltd; M S Rao, founder and managing director, Vema Solar Pvt Ltd, Jayashree Rao, national head, rural water solutions at Ion Exchange India; Subramanian MV, former president, rural and inclusive banking, Axis Bank; Madhumita Ghosh, business transformation leader, big data and advanced analytics: digital practice global business services at IBM and Manoj Sathe, vice president, NSDL. 

 

The speakers spoke on encouraging digital entrepreneurs to think about sustainable business models and also technology that could be used for social change. They made a mention of the steps taken by their organisations towards bringing about social change. 


The institute also hosted an inter-collegiate competition for B-schools during the summit on the topic 'Technology used for social change', which aimed at persuading students to think of technologically driven sustainable business models for the betterment of  society. 

 

St. Francis Insitute of Management and Research won the first prize, followed by K J Somaiya at second place and Symbiosis at the third spot.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

BIS #5064 SALESIAN FAMILY OUTREACH PROGRAMME

by Maria Rodrigues 

 

AHMEDNAGAR, FEB 23, 2017: The Salesian Cooperators of the Mumbai province set out for their annual Outreach Programme to the Missions of Ahmednagar on February 17. They were joined by the members of the ADMA group together with the Provincial Delegate Father Vivian D'Souza and Father Bento D'Souza. 

 

The group left Matunga by bus on the eve of February 17 and after a long drive, their first stop was at Bosco Gramin Vikas Kendra, Kedgaon (BGVK) at 4:00 am. The early hour did not deter Father George D'Abreo, director of the centre from welcoming the guests. 


The visitors were ready by 7:30 am for Holy Mass, celebrated by Father Vivian and concelebrated by Father Bento. After breakfast Father D'Abreo explained the scope of the institution and its works through a PowerPoint presentation, detailing the various projects and schemes carried out by the centre. 

 

The Institute reaches out to the rural poor, village women and youth, making them aware of the different government schemes available and also working on mega projects like watershed development - as the area faces major water scarcity - and Self Help Groups for rural women and youth. 

 

There was a guided tour around the other three Salesian houses at Nagar: St. Anne's Parish, St. John's, Bhingar and Don Bosco, Savedi. The group was impressed with the work, the mission and village apostolate carried out by the Salesians at these places. 

 

They even met the Cooperators of the region. The Salesians arranged a guided tour of the farm at BGVK and a visit to the nearby village where the visitors met families and interacted with them.


On February 19, the group experienced parish life, with the Holy Eucharist celebrated in Marathi at St. Anne's. After a small local snack, they visited the village at Pimpalgaon - around 110 km away - that has a horticulture unit where oranges and pomegranates are grown.  It is one of the extremely successful and popular projects of BGVK.

 

The fruits of the hard labour of Father D'Abreo and his predecessors, especially Brother Alex was evident at the site. Along the way, the guests met villagers and distributed biscuits and other items they had brought. 

 

They also learnt about the various ways in which the local families have benefitted from the expertise of BGVK. While the elders work in the orchards, the children study Engineering, Hotel Management and other courses  at Don Bosco Institutions. 

 

The villagers treated the guests to a local feast, after which they left for Mumbai, grateful to Father Vivian D'Souza, Jacinta D'Souza, the provincial coordinator and the others who provided them with an enriching Outreach experience.

BIS #5063 PROMOTING THE JOY OF LOVE IN OUR FAMILIES - MESSAGE OF THE 29TH CCBI PLENARY ASSEMBLY TO THE CHURCH IN INDIA

by Oswald Cardinal Gracias, President, Conference of Catholic Bishops of India




INDIA, FEB 23, 2017: We, two Cardinals, 136 Archbishops and Bishops, representing the 132 dioceses of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI), gathered at the Pastoral Centre, Bhopal, for our Plenary Assembly from 31st January to 8th February 2017 to deliberate, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, on the theme "Promoting the Joy of Love in our Families". The choice of this theme was prompted by the epoch-making Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia (Joy of Love), which was the outcome of the 2014 and 2015 Synods on the Family. The Apostolic Exhortation reviews the current situation of families in the light of the Church's perennial teaching on marriage and family, especially with regard to unity and indissolubility of marriage (cf. Mt 19:3-6; Eph 5: 22-31) with a view to building up stable, fruitful and joyful families, and offering help to those who do not fully meet the Christian ideal of marriage and the family. Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, always remains as a model of our ministry to the family. Indeed, the family is God's precious gift to human society and to the Church. 

The theme of the family as the "Domestic Church" has been the subject of frequent reflection by the Bishops of India. Aware that "the welfare of the family is decisive for the future of the world and of the Church" (AL 31), the 29th Plenary Assembly (2017) took up this theme for reflection anew.

At our current Plenary Assembly, we were fortunate to have His Eminence Lorenzo Cardinal Baldisseri, the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, Rome, who enlightened us on the historical background and the thrust of Amoris Laetitia. We were enriched by the frank and faith-filled sharing of some Catholic couples from various parts of our country - a couple who had been present at the 2015 Synod; a father of a mentally challenged child; a single parent, and others who spoke with utter sincerity and openness about their marital journey with all its ups and downs, joys and sorrows. We were edified by their deep faith in God, their prayer life nourished by the Word of God and participation in the Holy Eucharist, and their dedication to ministry in the Church as lay people. We realise that these couples who spoke to us are just a few of the many Catholic families which, despite many difficulties, remain faithful to the Church's teaching on marriage, and make possible for their children a truly Christian upbringing. Such families are nurseries of vocations for the priesthood and religious life. Seeing this, we are filled with joy in the Spirit, and would like to thank our families for the service they render to the Church and to society.

At the same time, we are aware that there are some shadows. More than 300 million people in our country are subject to poverty and deprivation, especially in the rural areas, with little access to basic health services, educational facilities and employment opportunities. Many of them are afflicted by evils such as domestic violence and alcoholism. Among the poor, women and children are the ones who suffer the most. A large number of families have not been sufficiently catechised. Migration too has had a strong impact on marriage and family life. The media, with all its beneficial effects, have often exercised a deleterious influence on family life.

Part of the problem is that ordained ministers are not adequately equipped to help families cope with the complex problems they face (cf. AL 202). Priests also need to know how to harness, for the pastoral care of families, the many Family Movements and Associations with which the Church is blessed.

As pastors responsible for our faithful, we took into serious account the varied and diverse situations regarding marriage and family across various regions of our country. We have sketched out a Plan of Action which will be made specific and implemented in stages by each diocese, according to its needs and resources. As Bishops, primarily responsible for the family apostolate, we wish to state:

1. The content of our pastoral plan for families will always include the "culture of life" (cf. Gen 1:28, 3:20; Evangelium Vitae 87). 

2. We will focus, in the first place, on adequate Preparation for Marriage, updating, wherever necessary, the present Marriage Preparation Courses. We want to emphasise especially Christian Family Education programmes in our schools and colleges, with a view to helping young people discover the dignity and beauty of marriage (cf. AL 205-216), without minimising the call to priestly and religious life.

3. Priests and religious will keep in touch with families through regular family visits and devise structures for accompanying couples, especially in the first years of marriage (cf. AL 217-238). We will enlist the help of experienced married couples, Parish Family Cells, SCC (BEC) networks and the Family Movements and Associations in our dioceses. Wherever needed and feasible, we will establish Family Service Centres with counselling facilities to help couples facing difficulties.

4. In particular, with a careful process of discernment, we will reach out to those who, for several reasons, feel estranged from the Church (divorced, divorced and civilly remarried, cohabiting partners, etc.). We keep in mind the words of Pope Francis: "what is urgently needed today is a ministry to care for those whose marital relationship has broken down" (AL 238). We want all to feel the maternal love of the Church in such a way that they experience the merciful embrace of the Father from which no one is excluded. 

5. We will ensure that our priests, religious, catechists and pastoral workers receive better training for family ministry. In particular, we will insist that seminarians "receive a more extensive, interdisciplinary, and not merely doctrinal formation in the areas of engagement and marriage" (AL 203) and will have exposure to family situations under the guidance of their formators. 

6. We realise that there are certain families that need special care: families living in dire poverty, families with spouses of two different religious traditions, single parent families, families with differently abled children, grieving and bereaved families, migrant families, families with sick and elderly members (cf. AL 247-253). We pledge to support and accompany these families in whatever way possible.

7. Responding to the call of Pope Francis, we will show a respectful attitude to those who have not been provided with adequate pastoral care such as transgenders, people with different orientations, etc. 

Dear families in Christ, Pope Francis so well says: "The Joy of Love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church" (AL 1). We ourselves experienced this joy while deliberating on the family in the light of the Holy Spirit. You are God's precious gift to the Church. We are grateful to Pope Francis for so courageously highlighting the need of a merciful approach to families, especially to those living in difficult situations. 

Along with other Christian families and those of other faiths, you are called to journey together to become witnesses of God's tender love and mercy in this world, which has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ.

May Mary, the Queen of the Families and St Joseph, her chaste spouse, intercede for our families to enable them to live in justice, peace, love and joy in the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 14:17).

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

BIS #5062 TEACHING STREET BOYS TO VALUE THEMSELVES

by Cleric Nevelle Coutinho

 

MUMBAI, FEB 22, 2017: Shelter Don Bosco organised the monthly Mela for street boys on the theme 'My Value' on February 20 at their institute in Wadala. 


Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS)  students, Shruti and Gaurav, held a session for the boys on how valuable they are and how they can care for themselves better by avoiding addictions and instilling healthy habits.

 

Around 76 young men from the age group of 12 to 30 years participated in the mela. The sessions covered topics like health, money, Swachchha Bharat Abhiyan and nasha mukti.  


The street children were divided into four groups and each group had to perform a short play on the above themes. After the street play, the staff members organised games and a dance session for them.

 

As it was also Municipal Election day, Father Gregory D'Almeida, Rector of Shelter Don Bosco told the boys the importance of elections, voting and choosing the right leaders.

 

The staff and management conducted a session on choosing the right values, inspiring some of the boys, who have opted to go to Maria Ashiana , Lonavla- a home for street drug addicts- to begin a new life.

BIS #5061 YOUTH DAY AT DOMINIC SAVIO CHURCH, WADALA

by Avril Baptista

 

MUMBAI, FEB 22, 2017: Dominic Savio parish, Wadala held its Youth Day on Saturday 19 and youth from different areas of the parish participated in it.


The programme began with a solemn Mass. The Savion Youth group guided by Father Brian Moras and Father Shekar Mariadas, helped organise the event. The ice-breaker games helped everyone get to know each other as some of the youngsters were participating for the first time in a youth event in the parish.

 

Father Cleophas Braganza of Don Bosco Youth Services (DBYS), Matunga led an interactive session on the Pope Francis's letter- Amoris Latetia, stressing the importance of Prayer and Church in the life of a Family and how even the youngsters can contribute to it. 

 

Father McEnroe Lopes, Vocation Promoter- DBYS , gave a brief summary on the summer camps to be held and the Youth Pasch experience during the Holy Week. 

 

The youth were made aware by way of a power point presentation of the work done and the programmes held for the youth throughout the year. The  scope of work available and the need for more youth to join, was also discussed. The movie prepared by the youth for the diocesan competition on the Parish Works of Mercy was also screened. 

 

The session ended with the Youth filling out commitment forms, choosing areas of interest and the work they would like to assist with.

Friday, February 17, 2017

BIS #5060 THE PEACE RUN

by Shalini Crasta 

 

MUMBAI, FEB 17, 2017: Students from 16 different Mumbai-based schools participated in 'The Peace Run', a brainchild of Principal, Father Godfrey D'sa, to commemorate the Centenary Year of St. Joseph's High School, Wadala which was held on February 11.

 

Youth from various institutions joined forces for the cause of Peace in their neighbourhoods, the city, the state, the country and the world. The aim was to convey to people that even the future generation, along with the present generation, wants peace and harmony between all mankind.


The run was flagged, by Chief Guest Mir Ranjan Negi, a former India hockey goalkeeper and coach of the Indian team, at 6.30 am from Five Gardens in Matunga. The runners then proceeded to Dr Antonio D'Silva School (Dadar), from there to Victory School (Mahim), the next stop was Shivaji Park from Cadel Road, then on to Vaidya Gardens, Dadar (E), to Shishuvan School via Bhaudaji Road, via four roads to SIWS School (Matunga) and from there to the final destination at St. Joseph's High School, Wadala.


The students ran with great enthusiasm and vigour. The organisers charted the course around seven holding points akin to pit stops. Students from three schools each would run from one holding point to the next. They would then hand over the torch to the other runners. Some former and present students alongside senior staff kept up the tempo by playing live music.  

 

At the closing ceremony Father D'Sa addressed the gathering and thanked the chief guest for his presence. Father D'Sa also thanked the Pinkathon team who accompanied the students from the starting point through to the end. Negi then lauded the organisers for ideating such a noble event. He joined Father Rosario Vaz and 10 students from St. Joseph's school to release 12 doves as a mark of peace.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

BIS #5059 WAGING WAR AGAINST THE COMMON ENEMY

by Curie Colcao

 

KUWAIT, FEB 16, 2017: Around 80 catechists from St. Therese of the Child Jesus parish in Kuwait attended a Spiritual Recollection on February 11.


Father Blany Pinto, the parish priest, welcomed the participants. Francis Sam, the assistant coordinator of the catechism ministry of the North Arabian Vicariate, enumerated the rules of conduct for the recollection and also explained the sequence of activities planned for the rest of the day.

 

Father Francisco Pereira, the Catechetical Director of the Vicariate of North Arabia, conducted the recollection, beginning with a prayer and eased the attendees into the theme of the programme, which was 'Prayer'.

 

Father Pereira showed them the movie - 'WAR ROOM'. He then led them into reflecting on the real enemy, which seeks to destroy families. The film invited the participants to form the right strategy to wage war against the enemy.

 

Many participants were touched deeply, due to the relatable nature of the movie's theme. After the film, participants were asked to break into groups to share their thoughts regarding the movie and it's powerful message. All were then asked to enter a room fashioned like a War Room, to complete their spiritual retreat.

 

"It was really impactful as it transported me to a place of complete spiritual healing. Father explained how to effectively use the power of prayer as a weapon to bring God closer to us and in the lives of the ones we love," catechist Poonam Rodrigues, said.

 

Sam then enlightened the catechists on the life and deeds of St. Teresa of Avila. He highlighted the salient points on Prayer put forward by St. Theresa and exhorted all to read her life story and be inspired by her teachings on how to pray.

 

Catechist Premila Lewis felt that Father Pereira and Sam helped bring out the broader dimensions of prayer with its meaning, value and importance. The experience brought out a deeper desire to pray and to develop a strategy to use it as a powerful weapon against our common enemy - the devil.

 

Father Pereira then proceeded to provide the attendees with activities to make a lasting impression, which was followed by the celebration of the Holy Eucharist and distribution of memorabilia.

BIS #5058 FREE HEALTH CHECK-UPS FOR THE POOR

by Father Rolvin D'Mello

 

CHINCHWAD, FEB 16, 2017: One hundred and seven women and children from the Phulenagar slum in Chinchwad availed of a free Health Camp organised by Don Bosco Development Society (DBDS) and supported by AXA Business Services on February 12.

 

The camp was held in collaboration with doctors and their team from Lokmanya Medical College. The beneficiaries were from poor and needy families of the slums who could not afford private health care services. Doctor Amruta Bakshi and Doctor Vijyalaxmi Sawant along with other junior doctors, interns and a qualified team examined the people during the camp.

 

Rheumatoid arthritis, anemia, skin ailments, menstrual irregularities, respiratory illnesses like cough, cold, migraine, gastric problems, worms in children, calcium deficiency, joints pain were identified, examined and treated. Some patients were even referred to Lokmanya hospital for further treatment.

 

The beneficiaries were extremely grateful to Don Bosco, AXA and Lokmanya Medical College for the opportunity given to them. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

BIS #5057 SUNDAY SCHOOL ON THE PLAYGROUND


by Avril Baptista

 

MUMBAI, FEB 15, 2017: While everyone lazed away their Sunday Morning, the turf ground of Don Bosco International School in Matunga, was abuzz with excitement as Dominic Savio Parish, Wadala celebrated their annual Sports Day for the Sunday School children on February 12.

 

About 86 children from standard one to nine participated in the event that began with the march past, with flag bearers leading the way. Father Savio D'Souza, parish priest of Dominic Savio took the salute and declared the sports meet open.

 

From sack race to book balancing, the children participated in a plethora of fun games. The grounds reverberated with the sound of cheers and claps from the crowd.

The highlight of the day was the Mini Football matches. Father D'Souza, Father Brian Moras, the assistant parish priest and youth director and Father Shekar Mariadas not only refereed but also participated in the games.

 

The event ended with a prize distribution ceremony. The chief guest for the closing ceremony, Father Bernard Fernandes, principal of Don Bosco School, Matunga reminded the youth, "It is not only the winning that counts but the participation that matters.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

BIS #5056 TO MARY WITH LOVE

by Swetha Celestine Barboza

 

KUWAIT, FEB 14, 2017: William Wordsworth once wrote, the Virgin Mary is 'our tainted nature's solitary boast'. In 2017, Mary will receive special attention in the Vicariate of Northern Arabia because Bishop Bishop Camillo Ballin has declared it as a 'Marian Year'.

 

This is to mark the centenary year of the famed Marian apparitions reported in 1917 by three shepherd children, Lúcia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto at the Cova da Iria, in Fátima, Portugal.

The parish has planned numerous initiatives to enhance knowledge and to help the laity grow in our love for our Lady. Nearly 120 faithful attended the first Marian-centered event, planned by the Salmiya Parish Youth (SPY) of Saint Therese of Child Jesus Church, Kuwait on February 9. The youth organised Marian Knight - an evening with Mother Mary.

The event featured quizzes, hymns, puzzles and riddles about Mother Mary. The organisers of the event started the evening with a prayer led by Levi Almeida followed by a medley of hymns dedicated to Mother Mary.


Shayne Nair hosted the event. "It gave me immense pleasure to see the number of people who had come in the name of Mother Mary. I was glad that we could organise such a wonderful event that could give people more knowledge about Mother Mary. My team of volunteers did a brilliant job of keeping the participants on their feet," he said.

The judges for the event were Kenneth Remedios, Michelle Remedios and Clarence Pires. A total of 18 games were conducted. 

Father Xavier D'Souza, who is the Youth Director for the Vicariate of Kuwait, lauded the youth for their effort. "Splendid and tremendous work by the SPY that united people young and old to reflect and learn about our dear Mother Mary," he said.

The participants showed immense interest in all the activities conducted. The event ended with participants singing hymns to Mother Mary.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

BIS #5055 FEAST OF LIGHT

by Ashley Alleluya

 

KUWAIT, FEB 8, 2017: The Faith and Light community in Kuwait celebrated its 40th anniversary with a programme entitled the 'Feast of Light' on February 3. 

 

The community, formed over 40 years ago in France, devotes much of its time towards enhancing the lives of persons with special-needs, their families and friends, through prayer, retreat camps, pilgrimages, activities and community service.  

 

The community has been an active group within the Church, uniting different families of Christian faith. Communities from Alleluya (Kuwait city), Ruha (Abbasiya), Ray of Light (Salmiya), gathered together to make the celebration a special one.

 

The festivities began with the spiritual guides of each of the Faith and Light communities in Kuwait offering a special Holy Mass, concelebrated by Father Peter Mathew, Father Johnson Nedumpurath and Father Raymond Mtanios, at Saint Therese Church in Salmiya.

 

The Gospel reading seemed specially addressed to the community members, proclaiming the importance of being the salt and light of the Church. Father Mathew then gave a homily in which he stressed the value of the special-needs person and their importance in our lives as the true salt.

"Everything God created, He saw that it was good. Children are a gift from God.  He has chosen to give you, parents this special gift too, " Father Mathew said. The Holy Eucharist ended with the children of the community singing two songs close to the hearts of the Faith and Light families, 'You're loved by God' and 'Maranatha' to loud cheers and applause. 

 

After the Eucharistic celebration the communities came together to celebrate with food, dance and music. The children were serenaded by Nibin and Adil, two talented singers and musicians. Singing favourites such as 'Romans 16:19 says' and 'The Lord is my tower', they had everyone in the hall on their feet, shouting out the lyrics and dancing. 

BIS #5054 AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER AT DON BOSCO MATUNGA

by Ashwini Gupte

 

MUMBAI, FEB 8, 2017: The platinum years of Don Bosco High School, Matunga were encapsulated through a journey down memory lane as the school celebrated its Annual Thanksgiving with the musical 'Don Bosco Lives On' on February 4 and 5.

 

In a marked difference from previous editions of the event, this year a simple LED screen was used as a backdrop as opposed to the pomp and splendour of elaborate sets that have been used for musicals staged in Matunga in the past.

 

However the grandeur of the event was unveiled and captured through a sublime experience – conceptualised by the director, Avit Dias. Former rectors, principals, retired and current staff, sports coaches, house helps, transport coordinators, even the children's dabbawalas -- all of whom have played their part in the lives of students -- shared fond memories, on screen and by speaking live on stage.

 

Generations of alumni -- ranging from doctors, engineers, actors, sportsmen, radio jockeys, ministers to youth yet discovering their footing in life - spoke of the timeless and enriching love affair with their alma mater that had helped in their formation. They gave thanks to the founder, Saint John Bosco, Father Aurelius Maschio and worthy pioneers and their teachers. 


Interspersed with these touching reminiscences, the students sang and danced to the most popular songs from musicals staged in the past, accompanied by the ex-students, the original singers from those very musicals.

 

A customary felicitation of the school's young achievers, retiring staff and silver jubilarians was also held. Deserving candidates received scholarships and the outgoing assistant head mistress, Beatrice Pinto, head teacher- Winifred Fernandes and LB Vishwakarma were commended for their dedication and selfless service.

 

The special jubilee event also paid tribute to former principals, whose foresight and innovative practices have helped the school reach the lofty position it is at today. The chief guest, an alumnus and renowned radiologist Doctor Bhavin Jhankaria and guest of honour, Gene D'Silva, founder and secretary, Jeevan Dhara graced the occasion. 


The proceeds of the school 'Care and Share' Christmas Panorama programme which amounted to six lakhs rupees was presented to D'Silva for the needy children and youth under his care through his NGO, Jeevan Dhara.

 

Principal, Father Bernard Fernandes and his team were commended for the novel concept, its execution and the stellar performances of the students. Don Bosco indeed lives on through his marvellous legacy!

BIS #5053 CELEBRATING DON BOSCO

by Father Kiran Salve

 

WALVANDA, FEB 8, 2017: Bosco Samajik Vikas Sanstha (BSVS), Walvanda celebrated the feast of Saint John Bosco for the Special Education Programme (SEP) children of Jawhar and Mokhada zone on January 27. 

 

The main objective was to make the students, who numbered over 100, aware of Don Bosco- the founder of the Salesians and his work among the needy youth. BSVS also used the opportunity to give the youth a platform to showcase their talents.

 

As a pre-cursor to the event, animators of various SEP schools conducted competitions like drawing, essay writing, elocution and dance at their school level. The qualifying students came to BSVS to celebrate the feast, accompanied by their school in-charge. 


The day began  a prayer service conducted by Walvanda students. Father Anaclete D'Mello in his inaugural message told the students to excel in life.  "What matters is not the external but the internal," he said.  

 

After the prayer service, the elocution completion- with 32 participants - was conducted. Various games were organised thereafter. 

The dance competition followed and the day ended with the prize distribution ceremony. 

 

The objective of getting the children to BSVS, many having visited the campus for the first time, others who travelled for over 60 kms to get there, seemed accomplished with the joy on the faces of the youth.

Monday, February 6, 2017

BIS #5052 THE JOURNEY TO PRIESTHOOD

by Karen Laurie

 

MUMBAI, FEB 6, 2017: When the Bollywood movie Ghulam, starring Aamir Khan and Rani Mukherjee released in 1998, it changed one man's course of life. Father Ajay Shelke SDB (33) had just appeared for his standard 10 exams, while at a Salesian boarding in Ahmednagar. He was invited by a priest to pursue further studies at the Don Bosco Junior college in Lonavla.

 

Ajay Shelke found the proposition alluring; not the studies, but what was on offer in Aamir Khan's famous song,  'Aati Kya Khandala…Lonavla Mein Chikki Khayenge' (Will you come to Khandala? We'll eat chikki in Lonavla). He thought to himself, "I have never gone beyond my village in Ahmednagar. If I go to Lonavla, at least I will get to see Aamir Khan and Rani Mukherjee."


So he reached Lonavla, excitedly, but what he saw next threw him into a tizzy. "I never saw the actors, but I saw lots of children playing on tiles on the ground. And I saw huge grounds, and I became crazy. Then the actors and actress' craze went, and my focus was only on games. Every year, I said, "Let me experience one year, let me experience one year, and that experience brought me to priesthood. Today, as a priest, I am very happy that God has called me to the Don Bosco way," Father Shelke said.

 

While Don Bosco institutions are synonymous with sport, Father Mylin Noronha SDB (29) confesses, "I was always bad at sports; I still am bad at sports." But the plethora of other activities on offer was most appealing. "I was tone deaf before I joined Don Bosco Lonavla. I learnt to play the piano, guitar, saxophone, trumpet and drums. I was even part of the band and by the end, I was in-charge of the band," Father Noronha said. 

 

"I never paid much attention to art work before, but we were given responsibility for sets, backdrops, altar décor, so we started observing, improvising to the point that I can't call myself an artist today, but I can confidently do artwork."


Father Noronha attributes his growth to the personal attention he received throughout his formation, from the senior priests he was entrusted to. "Outside, in the secular world, it would not happen. The follow-up we received has made a difference. Priests and brothers in-charge saw the potential in us, and trained us thoroughly," he said.


"It took a long time for me to train myself to get accustomed to youth; as I have not gone to a regular college, and have not lived their lifestyle. But when we see the youth coming to us, sharing their problems at home, their problems with friends, treating us like friends, pulling our legs, laughing and joking with us, that's when we are grateful to Don Bosco for the kind of training we receive," Father Noronha added.

 

When in class 10, he was asked by a Salesian vocation promoter to tick three careers from a wide variety of options, he picked 'priest' as his third and last choice. The vocation promoter followed up, and the then rebellious teenager, Mylin Noronha decided to join the Don Bosco boarding. "I went merely to get freedom from my family, and I ended up taking a vow of priesthood," he smiles.


Father Noronha and his companion for 13 years, Father Shaun D'Lima SDB (29) have a lot in common. Father D'Lima also left home in Mumbai as a rebellious youngster, seeking the adventures of a Salesian boarding life, and he was not disappointed. 


"In class seven, I had attended a Salesian camp, and I loved the hikes, walks, games. So I wanted to join," Father D'Lima said. He completed class 11 and 12 at the Lonavla boarding. Two years of novitiate followed, where he was introduced to the life of the Salesians. He then completed a Bachelor in Philosophy degree at the Salesian Institute of Philosophy in Nashik. In his three years of practical training called 'Regency', he lived and worked like the Salesians at the institute he was placed at. Four years of theology at the Papal seminary in Pune completed his formation studies. 

 

While his journey to priesthood may seem long to many, to him, it was a memorable adventure. At the end of each year, when he had to take a decision if he wanted to continue or return home, he would say to himself, "Let me experience this for one more year."


"Once I was almost out of seminary life as I was very naughty. My father was called. But when he saw me pleading with the superior there that I didn't want to go (home), that day, I saw my father cry. I have never seen him cry. He asked the priest to give me a second chance. And to see my father support me at something that I really wanted, created great feelings in me. I didn't want that adventure to go. I was enjoying seminary life and the opportunities we get there. I didn't want to get back to the mundane family life, " Father D'Lima said.


Not all priests walk into the unknown. While in class three, Father Vishal Lopes SDB (29), on seeing a bishop in his village, ran to his mother and whispered in her ear, "Please tell the bishop, I want to be a priest." His mum replied, "You say it yourself," and before she could finish, he was tugging at the bishop's cassock, saying, "I want to be a priest."

 

Father Lopes pursued his childhood desire, and after class 12, joined the Salesians. He was the 68th priest to be ordained from his parish, Holy Spirit in Nandakhal, Vasai. "Many said to me you will never complete your priestly studies. From school and college days, I was a notorious fellow. I was always suspended. And now teachers are awestruck—how did you become a priest?" Father Lopes said.

 

"One thing that has kept me faithful is the prayers of my parents. In my village, priesthood is a privilege. At my Ordination, many were wishing my parents more than me, that they are the parents of a priest. So I would like to call parents to start praying for their sons and daughters to join religious life."

 

Father Ajay D'Monte SDB (30), like Father Lopes, is the son of a farmer from Vasai. "My father is a very poor farmer. He had taken a loan. And at the same time, I felt called to join the Salesians. But my father didn't tell me even once that I was needed to help him out. He let me go. And I enjoyed my studies and my life with the Salesians," Father D'Monte said.


"I always felt that coming from a poor family, I did not do justice to my family. Maybe I could have helped them out more. My friends have made big bungalows. We are still the same. But today, my dad is the proud father of a priest."

 

"My villagers gave me the biggest felicitation after my ordination. I am the first priest in my village - Agashi. My father says, "Naam kamaya" (You earned a name). If I had to work outside, I could have built a big house for them, but my parents are not regretting. Even among their friends, they are proud, as their colleagues feel their son is a priest; what about our son?"

 

Today, Father D'Monte may be content, but during his years of formation, he had his moments of trepidation. He recalls an incident during his assignment to care for village kids.  Sprawled on the floor, he was cutting a newspaper with them, when he got a call from an old classmate. The friend spoke about his high paying job in America. 

 

When he hung up, Father D'Monte felt weighed down with a big question: "What am I doing with my life? I must decide." He looked at the children around him, "That's when I had the strongest feeling and I said to myself, 'I will give my life to these kids'. The love that I received from them touched and transformed me. They became so attached to me, they cried when I was leaving."

 

Now, there was no looking back. Just before his Ordination, Father D'Monte asked his mother, like Don Bosco asked his Mama Margaret, "What kind of a priest do you want me to be?" She said, "Be holy."


The Salesians of the Mumbai province have been blessed with these five new priests, who received the Sacrament of Holy Orders (Priesthood) in December 2016. They all joined young, and grew strong, in academics, activities, sports and above all in loving kindness, to the point of dedicating their lives to the service of others. 


If you feel called to live this adventure, contact Father McEnroe Lopes SDB, the Salesian Vocation Promoter on 75060 42114 or maclop83@gmail.com

BIS #5051 SPECIAL EUCHARIST FOR STUDENTS

by Father Cleophas Braganza

MUMBAI, FEB 6, 2017: Almost 200 students with their parents attended a special Eucharistic celebration at 12 noon on February 5 at the Shrine of Don Bosco's Madonna-Matunga, to invoke God's blessings on those preparing for their board examinations. 

Father Savio Silveira, vice-provincial of the Salesians of the Mumbai province and the manager of Don Bosco International School, celebrated Holy Mass together with Father John Samala, ex-principal of many Don Bosco schools and Father Cleophas Braganza.

Father Silveira invited the participants to give thanks for the many blessings they have received, for their parents and teachers who have educated them and helped them grow, and for the wonderful experiences they shared with their classmates and friends in school and college. 

At the homily, he reminded the students that besides aiming for academic success, as Christians they are called to be the salt and light wherever they are; that signifies being persons of integrity, standing up for truth and justice, bringing happiness, peace and harmony in their neighbourhoods, educational institutions and workplaces.

After Holy Communion, while the parents and priests raised their hands in blessing, the students recited a prayer invoking God's grace so that they may prepare well for their exams and for life.

The children's choir of Our Lady of Lourdes parish, Sion animated the singing and youth volunteers together with Don Bosco Youth Services staff, helped organise the event.