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Recapturing the Spririt of the First Batch of Salesians who set foot in Shillong, India

By Michael Makri sdb
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Shillong, Jan. 31. Shillong: Every year the 31st of January is a solemn day for Salesian congregation as we commemorate the Feast of Don Bosco - the Father and Friend of the Youth. In Shillong, this year the day was made more solemn as the Province launched the three years preparation for the Centenary of the arrival of the first batch of Salesians to the North East India, which will take place in 2022.
The solemn function started with the hoisting of the 'Centenary Flag' by His Grace Most Rev. Archbishop Dominic Jala sdb, After the Centenary theme song was sang, the congregation which consisted of fifty two Salesian priests, more than two hundreds Salesian sisters, Salesian family members like the Co-operators, past pupils, the SYM members and other special invitees gathered in the Chapel of Don Bosco Technical School for the Holy Eucharistic celebration which was presided by His Grace, the Archbishop.

In his homily, he spoke about recapturing the Spirit of Don Bosco through capturing the spirit of the pioneers in their work  for youngsters and for preparing for the centenary.  The Archbishop narrated how the work of Don Bosco started with a simple 'Hail Mary,' a catechesis in a small place, which was the beginning of Don Bosco's mission. ''Don Bosco responded to the need of the Church in his time through that simple catechesis. Our pioneers did similar things in our land, they catechized in various ways that led to the growth of the church'', said the Archbishop.
''As the province is preparing for the centenary, there is a great need to response to today's need especially in the field of catechesis of those with whom we are in close contact. There is also a serious responsibility to train young people and lay people to be catechists. In our modern context, the use of Social media and other medium for catechesis in bringing Jesus to ordinary people should be made use'', he pointed out. Concluding his homily, the Archbishop said catechizes in the way invited by Pope Francis that is to be evangelizers of Joy. ''This is a Salesian charism, so we catechize with our witness of Joy, living our Christian life joyfully, we should be fearless like the first pioneers who came to our land hundred years ago. It was challenging yet their sacrifices has borne fruit in what the Church is today, ''he said.

''In the coming years what will be our contribution? The dynamism of the congregation should move on. We should become shepherd; missionaries who smell like their sheep'', advised the Archbishop. This was followed by the Renewal of the Promises made by 16 Salesian Co-operators.
After the Holy Eucharist, the congregation proceeded to the hall for the reflection dissemination of the Strenna of the Rector Major on the theme 'Holiness For You Too' by Reverend Father Edmund Gomes, the Rector of DBTS. Father Roland Kharkrang then released his book which was followed by lunch.

The afternoon session started with the Trinity Voices (A SYM Choir group) entertaining the SYM members with their songs. Father AL Jose, the Co-ordinator of the Province Centenary Committee spoke about the significance of the preparation for the Centenary Year, after which Father Anthony Kharkongor, the Province Delegate for Youth Ministry spoke about Salesian Youth Ministry. The day ended with group discussions on 'What Kind of Salesians are we for the youth of today' facilitated by Father Michael Makri, the Province Delegate for Social Communication.
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