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All India Don Bosco Principals' Conference underway in Mumbai


By Fr. Bernard Fernandes sdb
Minister Goyal being felicitated with a Don Bosco bi-centenary memento by Mumbai Provincial Fr. Godrey.
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Mumbai, Nov. 7. National Educational Conference of Don Bosco Schools (NECDBS) 2014 commenced on 6 November at Don Bosco International School Matunga, Mumbai. The chief guest at the inauguration ceremony was the Minister of State for Power and Energy Mr. Piyush Goyal,  who is also an alumnus of Don Bosco Matunga.
Inaugurating the meeting Minister Goyal lit the Indian lamp along with Mumbai Salesian Provincial Fr. Godfrey D'Souza,  Provincial in-charge of Education Fr. V. M. Thomas, Mumbai Vice Provincial Fr. Ajoy Fernandes, South Asia Coordinator for Education and Culture and AIDBES Secretary Fr. Maria Charles, and Mumbai Provincial Delegate for Education Fr. Crispino D'Souza.

Minister Goyal gave the key note address through a very personal and extremely emotional sharing. He shared several reminiscences of his days as a student of Don Bosco Matunga, and recalled three Principals who shaped his life - Fr. Peter Gatti, Fr. Boniface D'Souza and Br. Thomas Puthur - who, he said were guiding hands at critical moments in his life. He highlighted the positive features of Salesian education as, true secularism with no differentiation on the basis of creed or class, holistic development, imparting of value education, social responsibility and service. He affirmed that Don Bosco Schools have done the city and nation proud by the quality of education they have provided, and expressed his deepest gratitude to Don Bosco.

After Mr. Goyal released the NECDBS Souvenir, the students of Don Bosco Yerwada performed a cultural dance with a mix of the secular and the sacred, and St. Joseph's High School, Wadala enthralled the audience with a Bollywood fusion dance. Then the band from Don Bosco Lonavla provided a lively finale to the Inaugural Ceremony.

Giving an overview of the Conference Mumbai Provincial Delegate for Education Fr. Crispino D'Souza stressed on three elements of twenty-first century education - information, communication and technology. He highlighted the challenge before principals today as the ability to attract, engage and retain talent. He spoke also about the importance of divergent thinking.

Later in the evening the Archbishop of Mumbai Cardinal Oswald Gracias presided at the inaugural Holy Eucharist in the Shrine of Don Bosco's Madonna, Matunga. In his homily the Cardinal highlighted the role of the Church and of the Salesians in education, and noted that the Salesians were indeed pioneers in education.

The Cardinal stressed that the child is the centre of the educational process and is more important than results. He emphasized also on the importance of holistic education, the need for education to values, and the invaluable role of a mentor. He set before the Principals the following challenges: to remember that they were priests who make Christ and his Gospel present to the world, to strive for excellence without discriminating against the poor and without losing the focus and option for them, to continue to provide quality education and not to live on past laurels, and to make the students people with values.

The Cardinal urged the principals to remember that there's was a vocation to transform girls and boys in whom the kingdom of God was already present. He expressed the gratitude of the bishops of India to the Salesians for not losing the focus and priority of the gospel, and for being not just educators but also evangelisers.
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