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One More Salesian 'Doctor' in Rome


By Chris Valentino
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Kolkata, Mar. 21. (Rome, March 21) - Fr. John Britto Savarinathan of the Chennai Province (INM) successfully defended his Doctoral Thesis ''Youth Mentoring, Motivation and Religious Commitment: A Self-Determination Theory Perspective on Environments that facilitate internalization of religion among Catholics in Tamil Nadu, India.'' at the Universita' Pontificia Salesiana, Rome, on Wednesday, March 20. There were numerous friends, well-wishers, professors and students to witness the defense as well as to give him moral support.
This explorative, analytical four-chapter study through concurrent transformative strategy, combined quantitative and qualitative data, guided by two different theoretical frameworks - Mentoring and Self-Determination Theory. The primary focus of this monumental research was the dynamics and dimensions of the mentoring landscape as a prevalent and potential helping relationship, in facilitating religious motivation and commitment in Catholic youth in Tamil Nadu. The findings arrived at chalk a road map for effective pastoral interventions on behalf of and with youth in their religious development.

Fr Britto introduced his thesis saying, ''I am just like a sower who has tilled the soil. Of course, I had a tough time with the surveys, interviews, questionnaires, data-collection, etc. This has not been easy, but I am content that this empirical research study offers relevant scholarly contribution with regard to adaptability, applicability and the potential practicability of mentoring youngsters in their religious commitment.'' He further pointed out: ''My purpose was to understand what makes religiously committed youngsters to be what they are, and what is the role of the context or environment in nurturing youth so that God's grace can build upon nature and perfect their commitment to faith. I feel I've managed to contribute my mite in answering these questions.''

The Defense merited high praise and appreciation for Fr Britto's mastery over his subject-matter and the tome of data researched. Some of the student-scholars commented that ''it was a brilliant work'', and that ''there was so much of research gone into it''. A professor in attendance exclaimed, ''It is a fantastic theoretical framework, well-researched and significant. Now the real effort will be in its application as a pastoral practice, to facilitate internalization and a committed living of faith in daily life.''

The Doctoral Commission presided over by Prof. Gianfranco Coffele,  Vice-Rector of UPS, comprised of Prof. Jerome Vallabaraj, Prof. Antonio Dellagiuglia, and Prof. Giuseppe Roggia. The packed-to-capacity auditorium thundered with applauses as the defense concluded, and everyone's feelings were well surmised by a guest who was heard remarking, ''It was wonderful!''
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