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Kolkata Salesians felicitate Jubilarians- Be Witnesses to Truth

By Johny Nedungatt sdb
Kolkata, Oct. 20. The three day celebration of the diamond, golden and silver Jubilee of fifteen Salesians of the province came to a grand conclusion on 19 October 2016 with the Holy Mass and a felicitation programme where many Salesians,  members of the Salesian family and  relatives of the Jubilarians were present.  The final day of the jubilee was at Auxilium parish, Kolkata.
The jubilee programme commenced on 17 November when most of the jubilarians gathered at Nitika Don Bosco, Kolkata to spend some time in sharing, reflection and prayer.  Father Jose Thannickal, the director of Nitika started the animation on the right note when he picked up the concept of Sabbath from the Bible and led the group to a gradual discovery of the meaning of it for them at this jubilee time. The next hour was dedicated to a soul searching process to examine the operative forces in Salesian life: whether one is led by power to love or dominate and control,  guided by Father Johny Nedungatt.  The morning of the following day Father Jose helped the jubilarians to look into their lives and share with the group the journey they have been making until now.

Father Jose Pampady, celebrating the silver jubilee of his ordination, traveled from Bangladesh to be present for the three day programme said, ''It gave me time to take a brief look at my life.  Moments of prayer helped me to be aware how good God has been to me. Moments of sharing made me feel that others care and support me and listening to others made me realize how beautifully God manages our lives.''

The Jubilee Holy Mass presided over by Father Tom Polackal, celebrating 50 years of his priestly ministry, was on the third day. Addressing the assembly during the homily he recalled his journey to this moment. Referring to his personal spiritual journey he spoke of his discovering God as Father as the most beautiful experience of his life. It was as if, recalls Father Tom, Jesus led him by hand to the Father. Over the years, said Fr Tom, he was helped to discover, love and be fascinated by the marvelous Triune God.

Reflecting on the fifty years of his Salesian religious life, Father Francis Vadakken shared his lived experience as a pastor in a vast parish, a pioneer in social work and an educationist. Looking at today's scenario of religious life, he observed that religious can offer only witness and so many  are not sure what this witness is.  Without falling into the trap of pessimism springing forth from living religious life today, he spoke of the many who have modeled themselves on Jesus. This is what we celebrate today, said Fr Francis.

Father Joseph Pauria, the vice-provincial, introduced the felicitation programme after the Holy Mass.  Fr Jose Pampady, a silver Jubilarian of ordination shared  a personal note  when he said that it  is of utmost importance for him to be with Salesians and spend time with them.  Speaking on behalf of his sole batch mate, Father Ashis Das, silver Jubilarian of profession  said that he took everything as ''one day at a time'' and this kept him going.  Picking up a reflection he heard earlier in the programme he said, it is not how we reached here, but that we reached here''.  Living a healthy normal life on transplanted kidney he recalled how the provincial and the province stood by him as he struggled with his failed kidney and regular dialysis.

The fusion dance staged by the pre-novices, the Bhangra dance of the aspirants from Don Bosco Bandel, traditional cultural dance by the parish youth,  and ''This life I have given you'' a solo from the noted musician and singer, Dilip Mazumdar brought about an atmosphere of joyful celebration. Father Provincial took time in between these programmes to voice the feeling of the province towards the jubilarians.  He said, ''Jubilarians are the wealth of the congregation''. As a slide with a short biographical sketch of each celebrant came on the screen the provincial spoke about the specific contribution which each Jubilarian made to the young people of  the province. The words of Father George Thadathil thanking everyone involved in the celebration brought the programme to a closure.  A family meal ensued the felicitation.  

Ms Anjana Treesa Joseph who traveled with her Dad from the northern part of Kerala for the celebration of the jubilee of her uncle, Father George Thadathil said, ''It was really nice coming here, being a part of this celebration, knowing that my uncle is a valued member of this community. Getting to know your work here is a great experience. The celebration was excellently planned, marvelously executed, and the fruit was there to see. It was a great experience to be here.''



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