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Chennai Province Inaugurates Bicentenary of Don Bosco's birth

By Louis Kumpiluvelil SDB
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Chennai, Aug. 16. The bicentenary celebrations of Don Bosco's birth was launched in Chennai Province on 14 August 2014 with a solemn Holy Eucharist at the Sacred Heart College auditorium, Tirupattur, cradle of the Salesians in South India, in the presence of Salesians, members of the Salesian Family, other religious congregations and young people.  Bishop Soundararaju Perianayagam SDB of Vellore presided over the Eucharist along with Bp. Lawrence Pius of Dharmapuri and Bp. Needhinathan of Chenglepet. Fr. Jayapalan Raphael SDB, Provincial of Chennai Province, welcomed the gathering.
Bishop Needhinathan, in his homily, appreciated the immense service the Salesians have rendered to the society, to the Church and to the young. He also reminded the congregation that it is a moment of kairos and invited the Salesians to take up the challenge of reaching out to the needy young in the 'existential peripheries' of today's society and read the signs of the times and re-vision their mission to suit the times. He exhorted them to remain faithful to their God-given trademark mission - ''youth work'' - which gives meaning to the Salesian mission.

The celebration is an invitation to be ''reborn in the spirit and charism of Don Bosco and deepen our Salesian commitment in every way, by falling once again 'passionately in love with Don Bosco,' and becoming 'genuine and ardent lovers of the young,' manifested in the thirst of Da mihi animas,'' said Fr. Jayapalan Raphael, Provincial of Chennai.

Bp. Lawrence Pius, in his turn, appreciated the Salesians for promoting the culture of joy among the young and for being able to read the signs of the times and reach out to the needy through creative ministries. He further highlighted their well-organized mission with its special concern for nurturing vocations in the church, always for the greater glory of God.

Bishop Sounderaraju released the CD of the bicentenary anthem composed by vice-provincial Fr. Deva Joe. To the delight of everyone in the audience, the students of St. Charles Matriculation School rendered the peppy, melodious anthem into a colourful dance. The bishop also released five books by Arumbu Publications on themes connected with the Salesian mission: ''Youth and Family'', jointly edited by Fr. John Pudumaidoss SDB, and Fr. Sahayadoss Fernando SDB, both Professors at the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome, ''Searching for Inspirations'' by Mr. Joe Putti from United Kingdom, ''Happiness Happens by Choice'' by Fr. Joe Andrew SDB, ''Theendividathe'' by Mr. Siluvai and ''365 Days with Don Bosco'', the first of a 12-part collection (one for every month) of daily Salesian readings with questions for reflection for each day of the bicentenary year prepared by Fr. Anthony Christy, Director of Deepagam.  The books were introduced and presented by Fr. John Kennedy, Editor of Arumbu Publications.

A colourful cultural programme followed that translated the bicentenary theme into a scintillating display of artistic and musical talents by boys and girls from the different Salesian institutions in Tirupattur and its vicinity. ''Don Bosco for All'', a dance programme by Dominic Savio boys presented the universal appeal of DB, while ''A Man with Two Hearts - a delightful skit, composed by the Novice Master Fr Jerome and performed by the novices, took the audience to 1815 the year of his birth.  A fusion dance ''Don Bosco my friend'' by Mary Immaculate convent, was a celebration in rhythm and movement of the man we call ''friend of the young'', while ''Don Bosco Today,'' a short play performed by the boys of Don Bosco Hr. Secondary School, was a direct invitation to everyone to be like DB, a friend to the young in today's world. The ''Centenary Joy'' a cultural expression of Salesian joy, performed by the Martru Nataka Iyakkam of Sacred Heart College, showed how the joyful approach played a key role in the Salesian system of education, while a Mime, displaying the young  people of today caught between good and evil, performed by DB Centre, Yellagiri, displayed virtue as the winner. Finally ''Run, Jump, Play but do not sin'', a musical presentation of the favourite catchphrase of Don Bosco, composed by Fr. Gandhi Kallarasan, brought the programme to a delightful close.

This Bicentenary celebrations which will conclude on 16th August 2015.
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