Reserved Area

Fr. Biju Michael
Regional Councillor for South Asia





The Regional's Blog

Project Europe : a 6 year balance sheet!

Project Europe, unlike other projects of the Salesian congregation, like the Project America, Project Africa, etc., had 3 major elements defined by the Rector Major.

1. The internal renewal of the Salesian Charism in Europe.

2. Restructuring our presences to make our mission more efficacious.

3. Sending missionaries to Europe.

With regard to the first aspect, efforts are still going on and as you can guess, it is not easy to judge the results. With regard to the second aspect, �restructuring�, several initiatives have taken place. The number of provinces has been reduced. Some houses or activities of houses have been closed down or handed over to lay administration. A few new activities, particularly in favour of the poor of Europe, such as the immigrants, the gypsies etc., have been initiated.
Hence, I would like to give you some news of the missionary efforts to help Europe. Around 75 confreres have been sent to Europe in the past 10 years. 26 of these have returned to their provinces of origin. There were also several, particularly from Vietnam and India, who offered themselves for a temporary period of time and these too have returned. Right now, there are 68 missionaries in Western Europe (8 from Africa, 23 from india, 20 from East Asia, 3 from the Americas and 10 from Eastern Europe).

In 10 years, 37 Indians had offered themselves for Project Europe. Eight of these have returned, one has died (Fr.Benjamin Puthota) and 5 temporary offerers too have returned back. Therefore, 23 missionaries are still serving in Western Europe.

The Provinces of Hyderabad (6), Tiruchy (6) and Chennai (7) have been the major contributors followed by Bombay (4), Guwhati (3), Panjim (3) and Bangalore (2). Nation-wise, there are 2 in Belgium, 5 in Hungary, 3 in Austria, 3 in Great Britain, 2 in Ireland, 1 in France, 7 in Italy and 1 in Siberia. There could be some margin of error in these numbers due to lack of information.

Besides those of our Salesian Provinces there has also been substantial contribution of other members of the Salesian Family to Project Europe. Currently there are quite many Indian FMAs working in different countries in Europe. The Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians (MSMHC) have 9 presences in Italy; the Sisters of Mary Immaculate (SMI) have 5 presences in Italy and Germany; the Sisters of Maria Auxiliatrix (SMA) have 2 presences in Italy; and the DB Secular Institute of the Disciples (founded by Fr. Joe D�Souza) has about 7 presences in Italy.

Last year as on 31st December 2012, India had 2442 confreres and 131 novices adding upto 2573. This represents an increase of 51 from the previous year. Undoubtedly, India is the fastest growing country in the Salesian World. It is true that we send missionaries to other continents as well and within our own region (Delhi province, Sri Lanka). Nevertheless, our contribution to Project Europe has been minimal: average of just about 2 per province in the last 10 years! Keeping in mind how much European missionaries have contributed to growth of Salesians in India, we could think a little more of helping the congregation in this old continent. Admittedly, it is not easy for Indians to work in Europe. But it is worth trying!