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Salesian South Asian Formation Commission meets at Chennai

By Castilino
Father Pathiaraj (INM) felicitating Father Chrys Saldanha during the final session of the SAFC, Chennai (August 28, 2015)
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Hyderabad, Aug. 31. Ongoing formation of Salesians, a holistic formation to youth pastoral and lay collaboration, and formation of formators were the key elements discussed and deepened during the South Asian Formation Commission (SAFC) meeting held at the Salesian Provincial House, Chennai from August 25 to 28, 2015. Besides the formation delegates from the Provinces and the SPCSA representatives, present for this annual programme were
Father Ivo Coelho, the General Councillor for Formation and Father Chrys Saldanha from the Department in Rome.  The  meeting was coordinated by Father Loddy Pires, the Regional Formation Delegate for South Asia.
The members felt that perhaps a confused idea - turned into conviction in very many confreres, especially young confreres - that mission is work is the cause of many an issue which hamper holistic growth, in our region. It was strongly felt that in South Asia, Salesians are better known for their work and activities rather than what we truly are. To overcome this, one of the means that the commission felt was a deepening of our conviction to feel the need to constantly grow and learn not merely academically but integrally, as consecrated people.

While discussing means of deepening our formation processes to facilitate a meaningful lay collaboration, rather than a mere lay involvement, a panel of three lay persons were invited and an enriching interaction with them helped the members gain some valuable insights. Rather than merely making use of their professional competence or services in our mission, we were asked to related with the lay people as equal stake holders in the mission. The day-long session was animated by Fr Antony Christy, the South Asian coordinator for Evangelisation and Catechesis.

A long session was spent in finding concrete ways of strengthening our formation ambiance in the pre novitiates. Another session (animated by Father Doss Kennedy, the Vice-Provincial of Trichy-INT) focussed on familiarizing ourselves with the formation to youth pastoral as laid out in the manual on Youth Ministry from Rome. Besides these, the statutes of the commission were updated along the lines of the SPCSA statutes. As tasks to be carried out the delegates agreed to update the data about the formation houses and processes in their respective provinces by the end of this calendar year.

Being the last official meeting attended by Father Chrys, the members thanked him for his yeomen services in the formation sector, especially for the South Asian region.  His availability, profound knowledge and expertise, gentle demeanour, and passion for work were highly appreciated.  The participants were greatly helped in this meeting by the kind hospitality of the confreres and staff of the Salesian Provincial House, Chennai.  
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