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National Educational Conference ends on a glorious note

Fr Maria Arokiam Kanaga addresses the National Educational Conferenceof Don Bosco Schools at Matunga, Mumbai
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Mumbai, Nov. 10. National Educational Conference of Don Bosco Schools (NECDBS) 2014 concluded on 9 November at Don Bosco International School Matunga, Mumbai  with an eventful day of animation sessions, discussions and cultural programmes. The meeting had begun on 6 November with the participation of 142 principals and delegates from all over India.
The final day of NECDBS 2014 commenced with morning prayers in the Crypt of the Shrine of Don Bosco's Madonna. The Eucharist, animated by Chennai  province, was presided by Fr Maria Arokiam Kanaga, Regional Councillor for South Asia. Don Bosco Matunga choir assisted in the liturgical singing.

Fr Arokiam in his homily reflected on the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica. He lamented the fact that our ''temples'' are not sanctuaries, and are not maintained well. He pointed out that Jesus chased the traders because they made the Temple a den of thieves, and cautioned the principals against making our 'temples of knowledge' dens of thieves and lucrative businesses. Our schools will remain/become temples of knowledge when we keep the centrality of God, he said.

At the first session Fr Fabio Attard, General Councillor for Youth Pastoral, addressed the delegates via video conference from Melbourne. He told the participants that the ''Salesian Youth Ministry Frame of Reference'' is a process that started from the grassroots of the Congregation and is a reflection brought forth by the whole Congregation. All need to be committed to it with pastoral zeal, and to pick up our Salesian heritage which is a gift and a responsibility, and a guiding light to all.

He noted that in a school the Principal has the fundamental role of Salesian animation. If the Principal is convinced, committed and lovingly available for the mission, the school will be Salesian. We need to receive the heritage in a proactive manner, and have the faith that God accompanies us, he said.

Fr Attard urged the delegates to put students and their well being at the centre, because they deserve the best. He cautioned them against getting trapped in an efficiency that puts people on the backburner. He encouraged the delegates to remain united because the strength of the Salesian identity lies in its communal aspect.

At the next session, Fr Maria Charles led the discussion on suggestions to take forward the Association of Don Bosco Schools. He presented the priorities that the Provinces had put forth. A lively and passionate sharing of ideas followed. The delegates then discussed the Adhyayan Assessment of Salesian schools, and its pros and cons.

A well renowned stage artist and film actor, Mr. Boman Irani also addressed the delegates. He recalled the challenges he faced as a child, and highlighted the role of priests who understood him and his issues of dyslexia, dyscalculia and a speech defect, and nurtured and encouraged him. When many gave up on him, he said, he decided to be the best in whatever he did. He confessed that he had come to say ''thanks'' for all that he had received from the priests.

Addressing the delegates Fr Arokiam said that he appreciated their efforts in the schools. He stated that the General Council had decided to keep stressing the GC 27 theme of Gospel radicality, which is returning to the roots. He raised several fundamental questions on the theme and its key aspects, and presented them to the delegates for their meditation and reflection.

At the closing ceremony after lunch, the students of some of the Salesian schools in Mumbai city put up a scintillating performance of music and dance.  The ceremony began with the Don Bosco Matunga band comprising budding musicians performing three pieces. The students of Don Bosco, Borivili put up a fusion of folk dances from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Next followed a brilliant rendition of the song ''My God is so Big'' by the young boys from Dominic Savio, Andheri. The concluding item was a fusion dance by the boys from Don Bosco, Naigaon. The ceremony concluded with Fr Bernard Fernandes proposing a meaningful and heart-felt vote of thanks.

The Conference closed with the delegates expressing their appreciation and congratulations to the Salesian Province of Mumbai, the collaborator and sponsors for a job well done. The baton has been passed on to the Salesian Province of Guwahati, the hosts and the venue for NECDBS 2016.



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