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Towards the Chapter: the Salesians in South Asia


By ANS - Rome
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Kolkata, Dec. 6. .  (ANS - Rome) - We continue the publication of reflections by Salesians in the various regions. Today it is the turn of Fr Thomas Anchukandam, Provincial of Bangalore, who attended the Pre-Chapter Commission as representative of South Asia.
What is the state of the Congregation in your region in relation to the needs of young people, of society and the Church?

It can be summed up in one word: strong.The Salesians are numerous, young and well qualified. Many of them have doctorates in various fields. There is a good relationship with the Church, especially in SocialCommunication and in Education. Among the people our standing is high, regardless of differences of belief, whether Hindus, Muslims or Christians of other denominations. We work with all and for alland the people are grateful.

An example of our commitment, one that is highly esteemed and appreciated, is Don Bosco Tech India. This is an activity that we carry out in collaboration with the government and in the last three years we have trained approximately 60,000 students, young people classified as BPL - below the poverty line - that otherwise would not have continued with the formal education. 80 % of them find jobs after their training.

Vocational training of young people is one of the strengths of the Salesians of the region and is also a powerful witness to others.

What specific contribution has this region to give the GC27?

From our region we want the Chapter to share our experience, from the circumstances in which we live, of working with people of different ethnic groups, castes and religions. Even in the Church we have three different rites - Latin, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara.

This is reflected in our communities. One of the themes of the chapter is fraternity and in South Asia we already have extensive experience. Many of our communities are like laboratories of brotherhood between people of very different origin.

We can also bring the experience of our work with young people which is recognized and appreciated by all. And, finally, we work in collaboration at the highest level with the government and with the large industrial companies in the field of technical vocational training. This is a model already tested and found successful, so much so that efforts are being made now to develop DB Tech Africa, inspired by our Indian model.

How do the Salesians of this region seek to be witnesses to the radicalism of the Gospel?

Our lives are open to all. Despite a caste culture, our job is not only appreciated, but it is often helped by members of other religions, even though there are not many Christians in our schools.

Living in a multi-religious environment we get a lot of diverse spiritual input. In our institutions there is almost always a feast, whether Christian, Hindu or Muslim, and almost all work together in organizing them. These are things that can only be understood by similar experiences in environments like ours. When, for example, you see Hindus working to prepare for Mass, or when you think of the crowd that attended the festivities for the relic of Don Bosco - where sometimes Christians numbered about fifty in a crowd of thousands who came to venerate the relic - you understand that there is something deeper that unites us, something divine, and that is the radicalism of the Gospel that we live in openness to all.
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