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Don Bosco in Siliguri

By Fr. Bikash Mondal, SDB
Bishop Clement Tirkey honours Don Bosco in Jalpaiguri Cathedral
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Kolkata, Jul. 5. On his way to Kolkata, Don Bosco (DB) reached Don Bosco More, Siliguri at 5.30 PM on 2nd July, 2011. He was ushered into the Shrine built in his honour, where he was to stay two days, with scheduled visits to MSMHC Convent, Salesian College Campus, DB School, Jalpaiguri Cathedral and Nazareth Bhavan.
With a legion of DB Past Pupils leading the way, the motorcade from Auxilium New Chumta reached DB More Siliguri at 5.00 PM, where a huge crowd received him showing placards with inscriptions such as ''We love you Don Bosco'', ''Viva Don Bosco''etc... Colourful umbrellas which were spread out were swinging in the air as the skins of the traditional drums almost gave way. On reaching the Shrine, DB School choir sang melodious songs in praise of him, just prior to a prayer session.

At 8.00 PM DB was taken to MSMHC Convent with a special flag dance by the novices, leading him to the prayer room, where the Eucharist was offered at 9.00 PM.

On 3rd July, dawn broke forth with a host of schedules for DB at Siliguri, where he had made his presence since 1962.  Early in the morning, DB was led back in procession to his home - the Shrine, where five Masses were offered throughout the day, in which a number of priests, religious and faithful from Jalpaiguri and Bagdogra dioceses participated.  
Bishop Clement Tirkey, the bishop of Jalpaiguri diocese presided over the Eucharist at 9.00 AM.  Introducing the Mass, Bishop Clement appreciated the work of the Salesians among the youth and their collective witness as religious in the diocese. Faithful even from far end of the dioceses as Kumargram came forward in unbroken lines throughout the day, to pay homage to DB.

In the meantime, at 9.30 AM DB could not be present in the school auditorium where Salesian Family Day was on, with over hundred participants, with representatives even as far as from Kolkata. Fr Thomas Ellicherail, the provincial in his introductory words spoke about the significance of the visit of DB on the Family Day and commented on the growth of the province over the years.  Later, Fr. Provincial presided over the Eucharist in the presence of DB with twenty other Salesian concelebrants.  The shrine was packed with pilgrims.

After Lunch, public homage continued in the form of songs and prayer sessions.  DB School choir paid homage to DB at 3.00 PM.  Notable among other happenings was the gathering of twenty Salesians even from Nepal, for an hour with the Founder, during which the Spiritual Testament of DB was read, Vows were renewed and the Blessing of DB was imparted. The vigil service with Eucharistic adoration continued throughout the night.

There was a different sort of tone on 4th July as the educational institutions were opened.  After the morning Eucharist, DB had an appointment at the newly born Salesian College Campus.  The staff and the students paid homage to him in the form of a prayer service at 8.00 AM.  DB then moved to the newly constructed primary school building and remained in the portico, while Fr. Provincial blessed the building in his name.

In the meantime, the students, parents and past pupils were waiting for DB in the school auditorium. On his arrival, accompanied by a special canopy, with the Scouts in their best attire, DB was greeted with flowers and songs. Later, the Night School children paid a special homage to DB in their own simple way.

At 3.45 PM DB left for the Cathedral in Jalpaiguri as he had another appointment over there. There was an enthusiastic crowd of over 3000 faithful, including priests and religious waiting with their pastor Bishop Clement Tirkey.  People paid homage to DB before the Eucharist and after as well.

Later in the evening, DB found sweet repose in Nazareth Bhavan. The Novitiate community is waiting on him throughout the night, with a Mass scheduled for 4.00 AM after which he will leave for Purnea-Katihar.

At the close of these two days, DB was overwhelmed by what he saw and heard:  services rendered in the educational field in the style based on his system even to the higher sectors, the poor and abandoned close to his heart being taken care, the faithful sought after in the villages through pastoral ministry, the presence of his own daughters in the campus as novices and his sons preparing to pronounce the vows!

All the members of the Salesian communities at DB and Nazareth Bhavan, along with the Sisters at MSMHC convent indeed played true hosts to the great Educator and Friend of the young - our Father and Founder!


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