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Breathing Life into Don Bosco’s Vision for South Asia: SPCSA Meet in Mumbai

By Father John Parankimalil, SDB
The 'Dreamers' for South Asia
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Mumbai, Feb. 14.

The Salesian Provincial Conference South Asia (SPCSA) convened its highly anticipated Assembly and Council at Don Bosco Provincial House, Matunga, Mumbai, from February 8th to 11th, 2024. This significant event brought together esteemed Provincials from India's 11 provinces and the Vice Province of Sri Lanka, Provincial Delegates, Network and Dimension Heads, with specially invited members totalling 42 participants.

The proceedings commenced with the solemnity of the Holy Eucharist presided over by Father Biju Michael, the Regional of South Asia and President of SPCSA. Drawing inspiration from the legacies of Solomon and Don Bosco, Father Biju emphasized the importance of purity of heart in consecrated life and ministry, highlighting Don Bosco's unwavering commitment to the salvation of souls.

The formal inauguration was led by Father Vinod Mascarenhas, secretary of INB, accompanied by prayer moments featuring an uplifting performance by the youth of the local oratory of Matunga. The event commenced with a traditional Maharashtrian dance, 'Legim,' symbolizing a warm welcome to the esteemed members of the assembly.

Father Savio Silveira, the INB provincial, extended a heartfelt welcome to the participants, underscoring the significance of Mumbai as the 'city of dreams' and its historical ties to the Salesian mission. He invoked the spirit of Don Bosco's dream while urging attendees to breathe life into Don Bosco's vision for South Asia. The assembly felicitated Mrs Grace John, affectionately known as 'Grace Mummy,' for her remarkable 25-year service to Shelter DB, Wadala, exemplifying the spirit of compassion and dedication to marginalized youth. Father Lester Fernandes, the Rector of Shelter DB, Wadala, commended Grace for her tireless efforts in caring for street children in Mumbai, highlighting her invaluable role as a maternal figure to the most vulnerable youngsters.

Father Biju Michael, acknowledging the unwavering commitment of Grace, emphasized the shared Salesian charism among laypeople, lauding her as the embodiment of maternal care akin to 'Mamma Margaret' within the Salesian community. A touching video showcased Grace's ministry, evoking emotions among attendees. Father Biju Michael presented a citation from the Rector Major to Grace John, who expressed gratitude to God, Don Bosco, and the Salesians, reaffirming her dedication to serving marginalized youth. Her selfless service and compassionate spirit serve as a beacon of hope and inspiration, reflecting the ethos of the Salesian mission.

In his keynote address, Father Biju Michael encapsulated the vision and aspirations of SPCSA, emphasizing growth, transformation, and the paramount importance of youth-centric ministry. He articulated forecasts for the upcoming decade, stressing the need for digital transformations while focusing on timeless values and foundations.

At the second session, the esteemed veterans, Fathers Joaquim Dsouza and Maria Kanaga provided a comprehensive overview of the statutes of SPCSA. Father Joaquim eloquently highlighted the convergence of significant events in the Church, Congregation, and Country, presenting challenges and opportunities for growth. These events include the ongoing Synod on Synodality within the Church, the commemoration of 200 years since Don Bosco's visionary dream at the tender age of nine, the imminent General Chapter, and the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Republic of India and its Constitution.

Father Joaquim emphasized the imperative to dream ambitiously and boldly in response to these events, invoking trust in the maternal guidance of Our Lady and the apostolic zeal of Don Bosco. His words resonated with a call to embrace newfound ardour and courage as the Salesian community navigates through this era of transformative change.

The assembly sessions spanned diverse topics, including structural overviews, annual reports from various networks, and in-depth discussions on future perspectives and concerns. Father Savio Silveira facilitated a thought-provoking session on 'Future Perspectives & Other Matters of Concern,' wherein members deliberated on vital themes such as strengthening Salesian identity, fostering lay collaboration, and upholding constitutional rights and values.

The concluding remarks of Father Biju underscored the collective passion and commitment demonstrated throughout the assembly. He emphasized the importance of showcasing achievements, implementing General Chapter deliberations, and fostering a culture of mutual support and encouragement within the Salesian community. Father Biju expressed his gratitude to all the participants and organizers for their tireless efforts in making the SPCSA Assembly & Council a resounding success. The assembly adjourned with a renewed sense of purpose and solidarity, poised to embark on the next phase of the Salesian mission in South Asia.



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