1 | DIMAPUR LINKS
DIMAPUR LINKS | 2
‘PUBLISH OR PERISH!’
CONTENTS Editorial................................................ 01 Family Catechesis II............................ 02 Flashbacks of my life: Fr. P.O............. 06 SYM Conducts Capacity Building..... 17 First ever Bodo Catholic Meet............ 18 SYM presents SES for BCTE freshers............ 18 SCHE organises Rongmei YF............. 19 SCHE hosts World Communications Day......................................................... 19 Pope on Sushma Swaraj...................... 20
Editor Fr. Jonas Kerketta sdb Sub - Editor Fr. Joseph Thuruthel sdb Design & Lay Out Fr. Christudoss sdb Publisher Fr. Provincial Don Bosco Provincial House PB. 40, Dimapur -797112, Nagaland Circulation Manager Fr. Benny Karinattu sdb Editorial Team Fr. R. K. G. Nicholas sdb Fr. Christudoss sdb Fr. Paul Panii sdb Fr. Tete Blasius sdb Printing DON BOSCO IGACT Vennala, Kochi, Kerala Editorial Office Bosco Communications Provincial House, Dimapur, Nagaland +91 -9436062842 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This journalistic jargon may sound jarring! Yet it is true that an idea, however important, dies with its owner unless it is publicized. For three years Christ announced the Good News of salvation, using effectively the medium of storytelling: “Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing” (Mt.13:34). He told His followers to share their news too: “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Mt. 5:1416). He commanded the disciples to preach His gospel to all nations (Mt. 28:19; Mk. 16:15). The disciples proclaimed it everywhere (Mk. 16:20). St. Paul said, “Woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16). He preached orally and through his letters. St. Francis De Sales, patron of the Catholic communicators, hand-copied Church’s teachings as slips and pushed them under house doors. In just four years he converted over 70,000 Calvinists to Catholicism! Don Bosco extensively utilized print media. By 1875 he had 10 rotary presses. His writings numbered 1174, his published works filling 37 large volumes. “In these times”, he often said, “Don Bosco wants to be in the vanguard of progress” (B M XIX/81). Fr. Louis Mathias, leader of the Salesian pioneers to North-east India in 1922, founded magazines like Catholic Action, The Good Shepherd, and the Clergy Monthly. As Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore he launched another newsletter, Madras-Mylapore, aiming “to make our parishes and institutions better known in the archdiocese, so that all of us will be better instructed and can derive inspiration from the good activities of other people”. Gandhiji, the Father of the Nation, utilized his three English weeklies - Indian Opinion (1903-1915), Young India (1919- 1931), and Harijan (1933-1942 and 1946-January 1948), to mobilize public opinion for attaining freedom. Though initially he was shy of the new medium, radio, after his first successful 20 minutes broadcast in the AIR he said, "This is a miraculous power. I see 'shakti', the miraculous power of God". Many generations of Salesians in North-east India have effectively used various media in their ministry. Rev. Fr. Jose Kuruvachira, IND Provincial, in his August 2019 circular has beautifully presented communication media as powerful means of evangelization and catechesis. It is worthwhile accepting his clarion call to utilize these God-given means – traditional, print, electronic, digital and social media to announce Christ’s Gospel and its values to our people. Moreover, as educators let us guide youth towards intelligent use of the social media. Thus, as Pope Francis’ message for the World Communications Day 2019 invites, we can lead people “from the social network communities to the human community”. - Jonas Kerketta sdb
1 | DIMAPUR LINKS
FAMILY CATECHESIS IN TRIBAL CONTEXT(II) 7. Tribal Values
“In particular they hold the family to be the vital source of strength, a close- knit community with a powerful sense of solidarity. Asian peoples are known for their spirit of religious tolerance and peaceful co-existence. Without denying the existence of bitter tensions and violent conflicts, it can still be said that Asia has often demonstrated a remarkable capacity for accommodation and a natural openness to the mutual enrichment of people in the midst of plurality of religions and cultures.”
There are many wonderful values the tribal people hold that give them true identity of their nature. In them there is a great sense of equality, simplicity, solidarity, honesty, hard work, helpfulness, generosity, cheerfulness, hospitality and so on. They live together in 7.1. Tribal Values as basis to Gospel Values community. They work together. They share The Church has been always aware what they possess. They celebrate together. of the goodness that is inherent in the tribal They take pride on what they are and cultures. Gospel values that Jesus taught are what they possess. Pope John Paul II enumer- already in their culture. They have to discover and reaffirm them in their Christian lives. ating their values says: “The people of Asia take pride in religious and cultural values, such as love of silence, and contemplation, simplicity, harmony, detachment, non-violence, the spirit of hard work, discipline, frugal living, the thirst for learning and philosophical enquiry. They hold dear the values of respect for life, compassion for all beings, closeness to nature, filial piety towards parents, elders and ancestors and a highly developed sense of community.” The tribal people live in groups (tribes) and units (clans). Unity is their strength. They feel for each other. They enjoy freedom of mind and action. They possess highest sense of tolerance. DIMAPUR LINKS | 2
“The family occupies a very important place in Asian cultures and family values like filial respect, love and care for the aged, and the sick, love of children and harmony are held in high esteem in all Asian cultures.” The Church builds the gospel values on the tribal values. But some tribal values need to be corrected and refined. “In the process of encountering the world’s different cultures, the Church not only transmits her truth and values and renews cultures from within, but she also takes from the various cultures the positive elements already found in them.” AUGUST 2019
7.2. Weakness of Tribal People
shared with others. Tribal people share everything that they have. Faith therefore becomes Tribesmen place little value on the a matter of sharing. It is the greatest treasure surplus accumulation, on the use of capital they can share with those who do not possess. and on market trading. Most tribal people can and do work diligently when necessary, “The Church’s faith in Jesus is a gift but typically they do not find much pleasure received and a gift to be shared; it is the greatin the sweat of labour, in the righteousness of est gift which the Church can offer to Asia. abnegation or in the vision of future power. Sharing the truth of Jesus Christ with others is the solemn duty of all who have received The tribal people being mostly cul- the gift of faith.” tivators are engaged in the fields from early dawn to dusk. There is great demand for ad- 9. Methods of Catechesis among the Tribals ditional hands. Hence the parents withdraw Christian missionaries must teach their children from schools and put them on and preach the Word of God everywhere and to work. at all time. They must use means and meth8. The Importance of Family Catechesis ods that are intelligible by the people. The importance of family catechesis stems from the fact, that the family is the smallest, the most intimate and stable community of the persons in the society and in the Church. The family has the mission of not only transmitting life, but also of educating children. They must give them especially religious education to the children. Parents are the first and the best catechists of their children, family life lived in faith becomes an ideal place for the proclamation of God’s word and the witness of faith. Vatican II asserts that parents should by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children. Thus the Christian family is not only the locus for nurturing children in the faith but also a primary agent in the sanctification and transformation of society. Family catechesis is the most powerful and dynamic forces of evangelization.
Faith is a great gift that has to be
9.1. Stories, Parables and Symbols Tribal people are fond of stories and parables. Symbols too are used to describe the supernatural. Church tells us that stories, parables and symbols must be made use to teach eternal truth and gospel values. “The synod recommended that subsequent catechesis should follow ‘an evocative pedagogy, using stories, parables and symbols so characteristic of Asian mythology in teaching’.” 9.2. Personal Contact Personal contact is vital in the life of a tribal man or woman. A relationship is kept up with personal contact. So also if Christian faith has to be sustained in a tribal person pastors, sisters and catechists have to visit them, talk to them and encourage them. Those who are engaged in the work of evangelization must take the trouble of learning
3 | DIMAPUR LINKS
the language and speak to people in their own 9.5. Drawings and Pictures dialect. This will touch their hearts and lead Along with instruction visual images them to conversion. Also they will be able to are necessary to facilitate learning. It must be understand the truths and mysteries better. symbolic presentation of the content of each “The ministry of Jesus himself shows lesson and must afford a connection of the clearly the value of personal contact, which abstract concepts with everyday phenomena. requires the evangelizer to take the situation Its aim must be to enlighten the minds, to inof the listener’s level of maturity and in an ap- spirit the feelings and to urge the enthusiasm propriate form and language.” of the pupils into action. 9.3. Correct Use of Images
9.6. Dramatization of the Bible scenes
So far we have been receiving images of Jesus that has been created and made in Europe. Church encourages local images of Jesus that can speak to them and that will give the true picture of Jesus for them. At the same time they should not deviate from Sacred Scripture and Tradition.
Dramatization is an excellent aid in teaching. The Church from earliest times has approved the dramatic way of presenting her mysteries to the minds of the faithful. Dramatization is an instrument both for recreation and review. It is an episode or story taken from scripture, history or actual life. If properly done in the social and cultural set “The Synod Fathers stressed many up, it can have tremendous effect in the lives times the need to evangelize in a way that ap- of the people. peals to the sensibilities of Asian peoples, and they suggested images of Jesus, which would 9.7. Music and Song be intelligible to Asian minds and cultures Religious educators have to see that and at the same time faithful to Sacred Scrip- cultural music of the tribal people becomes ture and Tradition.” an integral part of the learning and cele9.4. Proclamation of the Word of God brating. People learn many things through musical games and stories told in song. The Christian community is called upon Church tells us: to preach always and everywhere. But people have to read the word, understand it and live “In mission lands there are people it. Preaching and witness must go hand in who have their own musical tradition and hand. this plays a great part in the religious and social life. For this reason their music should be “The more the Christian communi- held in proper esteem and a suitable place is ty is rooted in the experience of God, which to be given to it, not only in forming their reflows from a living faith, the more credibly it ligious sense but also in adapting worship to will be able to proclaim to others the fulfill- their native genius.” ment of God’s kingdom in Jesus Christ.” 9.8. Dance But who must preach the gospel? Dance is characterized by rhythm, It must be a genuine Christian who beat, some patterning relating to music. Swayhas found God must give this God to others. ing, jumping, skipping, hopping and stepping Tribal people will not listen to the loud and are all part of dance. Every tribal group has logical preaching if the preacher is ungodly. dances that are peculiar to their culture. Cultural dances must be integrated into liturgy “A genuinely religious person readily and social or religious celebrations. wins respect and following in Asia. Prayer, fasting and various forms of asceticism are 10. Suggestions for priests and religious for held in high regard. Renunciation, detach- better family catechesis in the tribal areas ment, humility, simplicity and silence are considered great values by the followers of all 1. It is the duty of priests to preach and adreligion.” minister the sacraments. They must therefore DIMAPUR LINKS | 4
preach but family catechesis must become the center of their activities. Good example and a life of witness is a must in the work of evangelization.
portance of family catechesis.
10. Involve parents in preparing children for the first confession and first communion. Parents must be encouraged to teach religion “By their life of prayer, zealous service to their own children. and exemplary conduct, the clergy witness powerfully to the gospel in the communities 11. Priests and religious must take part in the which they shepherd in the name of Christ.” cultural feasts and celebrations of the tribal people. To love the tribal people means to 2. People who have embraced religious life love their culture and vice versa. Through and taken upon themselves to live poverty, celebrations we come to know them closely chastity and and befriend them. Through culture we must build Christian community that is their own. obedience must give true example of their consecrated life. 12. Conclusion “The search for God, a life of fraternal communion and service to others and the three chief characteristics of the consecrated life which can offer an appealing Christian testimony to the peoples of Asia today.”
Family catechesis is realistic and concrete. It has to do with everyday affairs. It starts from reality and ends in reality. Wim Saris says that family catechesis is catechesis to adults who in turn pass on the faith to the children. If parents and grown-ups know 3. They must visit Christian families regular- their faith and practice them; then the youngly. During these visits they must talk to them, er generation will follow them. listen to them, pray with them and for them. These visits will strengthen the faith of the Parents must create religious atmoparents and children. sphere in their respective families through family prayer. Parents must live their Chris4. School authorities must visit their Chris- tian faith and give true witness to Christian tian students’ home regularly. School children values. Parents must verbally communicate must be able to see in headmasters, headmis- Christian faith to their children. If parents are tresses and teachers spiritual element in them true to their faith and live their Gospel values, and not just an efficient educator. children too will learn to be true Christians. 5. Every parish must make a study of the sit- Fr. Nazarius Lakra SDB, uation of Christian families to know the faith level of the faithful. This will give us new viIND Vice Provincial sion and help us to set our priorities. 6. Priests, religious, teachers, parents and catechists must visit Christian families in groups or in teams and animate them. 7. Marriage preparation and counseling for married couples should be given due importance. Parents must be told clearly and emphatically that it their duty to teach religion to their children. 8. Prayer meetings for the families in groups must be stressed. Sometimes a few families must come together to pray in one house. They must take turn to pray in different houses. 9. Seminars for parents and catechists must be arranged to make them aware of the imAUGUST 2019
5 | DIMAPUR LINKS
FLASHBACKS INTO MY LIFE: FR. P. O. SEBASTIAN
much and insisted that he return home at the earliest which he did to the great relief of my As grey hairs adorn a scanty borderline anxious mother. around the head and one’s name once relegat- Early Years ed to the bottom, gallops on to the top of the front page of the province directory and as a Prior to my school days I hardly remember mark of deference to advancing years, one is anything except that I had a jolly good time asked to submit a chronological audit of self. with family members and close relatives This is a privilege I am asked to share with whose visits we used to relish for the deliothers. cacies they provided us at their arrival. One thing, however, I dread to remember is the My Genealogy chiming of the church bells at 5.00 a.m. when I was born in the early hours of 18th Febru- it is still dark in our part of Kerala and the ary 1942 to Ouseph, my dad and Thanda, my quite movement of my mother who used to mom. I was the fifth of six siblings, three boys come at that very moment to drop some waand three girls. Since World War II was rag- ter on our fully closed eyes from a ‘kindi’ -- a ing in all its fury in those years which was felt brass water utensil offered to the guests for also in Kerala, my father was away on army refreshing their face at their arrival-- to reduty and returned home only in 1944. One mind us that it is time for Mass in the parish. can imagine the joy I felt at seeing my father This used to be a dreadful experience for me for the first time. Hardly had my father re- and my brother for some time in the mornturned, my eldest brother, Jacob was recruited ing, which made us jump out of bed; nonein the army which my mother resented very the-less tolerated as part of a daily regime of Introduction
DIMAPUR LINKS | 6
discipline. Then we dressed up hastily and followed our saintly mother to church. Later my brother and I took the initiative on our own and I must say that we liked the idea of going to Mass on a daily basis and on certain days we used to re-enact the Mass at home by ourselves. I used to be the main celebrant (priest) and my brother played the role of the server and the bell ringer on these solemn occasions. It was done at home in our room rather quietly lest we draw the attention of our elders. In our Church the priest conducted the liturgy in Syro-Malabar rite. The prayers were said in Syriac and the initial part of the celebration done behind huge curtains hung up between the celebrant and the faithful with columns of incense smoke belching out heavenwards were all a mystery to us as well as the turning of the pages of the missal by the priest from right to left; none of which we understood yet we replicated them all at home as best as we could with much relish. Although we understood neither the language, nor the gestures which the priest used during the Mass nor anything for that matter, yet we were overawed by a deep sense of the mystery -- the sacred and the divine for which later I found expression in my theology days as ‘mysterium tremendum et fascinans’. However during my theology days I, perhaps others as well, used to mouth this concept without ever experiencing that awe-inspiring feeling within myself as I felt at my growing-up years during our Syro-Malabar liturgical celebrations. In fact I used to have another-worldly experience at every Syro-Malabar liturgical celebration and all the more at the chanting of the office of the dead. I was not so much touched by any of the Latin rite liturgical celebration even though at Bandel we had nice solemn liturgical celebrations and enthralling music sung after several rehearsals with Fr. Charles Nizñansky at the organ and we, the boys, enthusiastically singing in four voices on all Sundays and solemn feast days. Another thing that thoroughly enchanted and spiritually absorbed me was the singing of the canticle of Daniel (ch.3, 57 – 88) in Malayalam on Sundays and on solemn Feast days by an ascetic-looking elderly man in our parish church. When I went home for holidays I looked for that person in order to hear him sing that melodious canticle and refresh AUGUST 2019
myself but to my great sorrow I was told that he is no more. Going to church in the morning became our daily chores till I finished my education at Perambra which was only up to class V, and while I was in the last grade in the parish school, the headmaster, a devout Catholic, used to speak to us enthusiastically about the Catholic missions of Assam and about some Don Bosco Fathers coming to recruit candidates for the same and encouraging some of us to volunteer. The headmaster who was teaching me in class V had an eye on me as I was rather good at studies and second in the class for which I was made the bell ringer at class breaks and during which I used to go round from section to section ringing the bell as if I had the authority to tell the teachers to stop their classes and let the children refresh themselves. All this while I had my eyes on the boy, Domenicus (the first in class) who was sitting on my right as. Although I was not very familiar with Don Bosco, I had a faint idea of a Don Bosco lottery which was quite well known at that time in Kerala. However, the idea of being a missionary and winning over those unfortunate pagans to Christ in the wilds of Assam, a land of wild elephants roaming freely all over, thrilled me. My High School Days in Kerala Going to High School is a serious matter and so one day my dad took me to the High School at Kodakara, known as ‘The National High School’ a distance of two kilometers from my place and I was enrolled in class VI. I had to walk daily four kilometers to and fro. Though we were on the national high way, and there was a bus running on steam along that route, to use it to school was beyond my means even though my elder sister who was studying in the same school was permitted frequently on the excuse that she is a grown-up girl and rather fat. But I had to trudge along the national highway the four kilometers daily to school with a few of my companions. This made the daily going to Mass rather difficult. However, en-route to school I used to spend few moments daily at the road-side chapel of St. Antony.
7 | DIMAPUR LINKS
Towards the end of October came the news that a Don Bosco Father was coming shortly and all those desirous of going to the missions to be ready to meet him in the parish. Six of my companions from the three neighbouring villages gave their names of whom four were chosen. When I broached the idea to my parents, my mother was scared at my volunteering for the missions of Assam, a land rumoured to be full of wild elephants and tigers and so my mother was determined that I did not join the group that year with the intent to dissuade me later as well. The four of them left for the so-called ‘Assam Missions’ in March 1956. News came that they reached Calcutta and settled down at Bandel, the shrine of Our Lady of Bandel, and not in Assam and that they were all safe.
with a broad smile and with a friendly gesture gathered us all into a group and then ushered us into the waiting train and with that I bid a tearful goodbye to my father at the railway station.
Although we were not able to communicate much with Fr. Joseph Marchesi due to our inability to speak English and with one another for we were still strangers, yet we had a comfortable journey as we had a spokesman amidst us in the person of Apollo, a new recruit like us. Since he knew a few more words of English than we he became the sole interlocutor between us and Fr. Marchesi during our long train journey. It reminded me of that famous saying, ‘ In terra caecorum, monoculus rex’ (in the land of the blind, the one-eyed is king).Surely, Fr. Marchesi had arranged everything well to make our journey into the My Missionary Vocation so-called unknown safe and pleasant. Finally My studies continued at Kodakara and in the we arrived at our destination, Bandel on 29th following year I was promoted to class seven. March 1957. I was feeling a little uneasy as I had to go to school all alone without any of my Catholic The Future Missionaries at Bandel friends as they had left for the missions. In the At Bandel we were met by Fr. Mathew following year when the news came that anBaroi sdb, the late Bishop of Krishnagar, and other Don Bosco Father was coming to recruit fresh vocations and they too would be going two Lay Brothers: Bros. Joseph and Franto Calcutta (Kolkata), Bandel, my mother was cis Surin and an amusing character like Fr. still unwilling saying that it is too far and told Philip Giraudo who with a broad smile and my father that I become a priest in Kerala like a smattering of Malayalam made us feel inso many others. But finally I prevailed over stantly at home. Our batch in Bandel consistmy mother’s fears and gave my name to the ed of a motley crowd of 42 boys from various visiting priest Fr. Patrick Sheehy sdb who had parts of India. come to recruit us. Hardly a year passed at Bandel, a number of There were two of us who gave the names but us including three of my former classmates of only I was selected and I was told to be ready my native place who had come to Bandel in to leave on 26th March from Cochin railway the previous year returned home for one reastation by 12.30 pm. My mother was all up- son or other. Some of them were not able to set but did not intervene to prevent my going adjust to the food. In the language of Fr. Philbut was reconciled to the idea that I become ip Giraudo, our counselor of studies, ‘they left a missionary priest, partly because she did for long holidays’. One who remained from not want to go against my father’s wish. On that group and became priest was Fr. Paul 26th morning 1957 I left home with my father Kuttikaden who is currently working in Gulooking rather sad. At Cochin as we had our wahati province. lunch in a hotel, we saw many other boys with bags and baggage crowding the station and On the whole, we had a jolly good time with amidst their chatter we guessed they like me, lots of party songs and games in the evewere all going to become priests and at their nings and frequent games during the day. We strongly felt the presence of our Bl. Mother sight my father looked rather relaxed. Mary there with our frequent visits to the The Cochin Express came steaming in and miraculous statue of Our Lady of Bandel by an hour prior to it a European priest named climbing up the winding staircases as though Fr. Joseph Marchesi landed up at the station in a pilgrimage to the topmost façade of the DIMAPUR LINKS | 8
Church where she is solemnly installed. She also looked awe-inspiring for we are told that the crown of Our Lady was of gold and it is remotely connected to Fr. Charles’ room and anyone who dared to touch it would invite instant gunshot!
del where we managed to write our Higher Secondary examination which was done in earnest with the intention of making to the novitiate.
For some, food was a problem both in quantity and quality but to me it wasn’t as I was most of the time a humble table boy at superiors’ table especially when benefactors and co-operators were around. One thing that made me particularly happy was the possibility of various types of games we could engage in. Our intellectual pursuits and spiritual practices kept us thoroughly engaged all through the year. After a little over two years of happy stay, we were allowed to make a home visit for a month and then proceed to Sonada in Darjeeling in pursuit of Hr. Secondary studies. Accordingly we reached Salesian College, Sonada on 16th May 1959.
We were off to Sunnyside, Upper Shillong for our novitiate on 1st of April 1963. There we met among others a very amiable and ascetic looking elderly priest, Fr. Joseph Bacchiarello, our Novice Master. We were 21 in our batch; three left before vestition and the rest, five coadjutors and 13 clerics striving to transform ourselves to be worthy sons of Don Bosco. I was, like all others, quite earnest to know what is required to be a Salesian and took seriously to the study of the Rules and Regulations so much so that when there was a competition, I got the first prize.
The Joy of being a Salesian of Don Bosco
In the novitiate we had no grotto and when the Novice Master expressed his desire to have a grotto built, a sine qua non symbol of Life in Sonada Salesian piety; we took it as a privilege and Life was smooth in Sonada despite its unpre- contributed to its realization both in cash dictable weather of rain, cold and sunshine. and labour. The present grotto is a testimony The chilly weather did not affect me much to the devotion of our Novice Master and of though some were afflicted badly by painful the novices of that year to the Blessed Virgin chilblains. Many took these chilblains hero- Mary. ically as winter penance. Bath in winter was very interesting; the weekly hot water sup- What’s in a name! ply was scarce and so some of us had to have recourse to partial bath in cold water which You may be wondering who the author of this meant washing one leg first and drying it memorial is. I waited this far to tell you about up and then attempting the other. But many two changes that took place in my life: one of us were kept really warm by the furious nominal and the other, vocational. You may games and the weekly brisk walks down the not be surprised to know that I am called Sehills which made life at Sonada rather adven- bastian but many others were (surprised)! turous. I was told that my parents and relatives had The first thing I used to do every day upon planned to name me Antony, after our parish waking was to look out at the sky through the patron. After all somebody in the family must hazy windows. A somewhat clear sky made be named after the patron saint of the Parme happy as it assured the possibility of out- ish as per the traditional belief of the times. door games for that day. I liked all kinds of After my mother returned home late night in games except the Arabian flag. Those years haste after the first day of celebration of St. I did not bother much about my studies as Sebastian’s feast of my village before the conI knew that I would get along rather easily clusion of the much awaited fireworks of 17th without much effort. The desire to be first in February 1942 and before the dawn of second the class as in my primary school days got day of the two-day festivity, I was born. My parents and acquaintances considered it a dishort-circuited with games. vine intervention and named me Devassy, the When we reached standard XI, the final year local Malayalam version of Sebastian. of what is known as Higher Secondary, the Chinese war forced us to dash down to Ban- I was called Devassy till I reached my novitiate when my late Novice Master, Rev. Fr. AUGUST 2019
9 | DIMAPUR LINKS
Joseph Bacchiarello deemed it appropriate to anglicize it to Sebastian. But my parents, relatives and village people including the parish priest who sent me to the seminary were confused when a certain cleric Sebastian landed up in a shining cassock for holidays at his home parish in 1964. Soon they discovered that it was their original Devassy, now called Sebastian, and that he is a cleric too. Finally they got reconciled to the new nomenclature. From then on for a considerable length of time I had to respond to everyone who called me either Devassy or Sebastian. After all, what’s in a name! The event of Religious Vestition The joy of vestition knew no bounds; I remember one of my companions M. C. Mathew jumping around in the playground with tugged-up cassock to remind him of the new reality. What a joy to see ourselves as young clerics on the way to... and the joy of hearing wherever we went the reverential greetings of the people, ‘Khublei brother’. The Novice Master quietly remarked that he would be happy if 10 of us would reach the final goal of priesthood. Oh, how sad it is to think that three of us may not reach priesthood! Soon John Dhan left and the rest! In the year 1973, nine of us ascended the altar one from Assam and eight from Kerala. P.D. Pathrose who was to be the tenth was held up! Two or three things which I specially remember in that beautiful year of novitiate are: (1). The affectionate care I experienced from the Novice Master. He used to send me quite often for some errands to St. Paul’s minor seminary at Upper Shillong with the instruction that I go by bus lest I wear out the sole of my shoes, an euphemism of veiled concern. (2). My tonsillitis problem which had to be treated at Welsh Mission Hospital for which the Novice Master personally took the initiative to provide me with a pair of pyjamas and jacket and had them stocked up quietly in my locker. Such a concern of his I could not even imagine. Yet when the time came for going to hospital, he called me and told me that it is not good to go for this kind of operation so early in life which might cause some complications later in life and that I might not be able to become a priest. It was convincing but the real reason I came to know much later was DIMAPUR LINKS | 10
that he wanted to save me from the clutches of the nurses, who have already trapped one K.A. Francis, who had preceded me to the same hospital for the same sickness, and (3). I remember the strict rule of washing everybody’s plate if one happened to break or damage one’s plate or cup. Accordingly, one day when I approached the prefect, Fr. Devale, with a contrite face to inform him of the unfortunate incident of breaking my cup, he surprised me with a comment: ‘oh, oh, poor Bro. Dungdung, he is at it again’ and that way I escaped the punishment of washing the plates of all the novices on that day. I was quietly bemused to realize that my English pronunciation was so indistinct; for, the prefect took for granted that it was Bro. Thomas Dungdung who broke the cup. By the way, it was common knowledge that Bro. Dungdung was epileptic and used to break lots of plates and also that he would often fall down from tree tops while plucking fruits. Then came the long waited day of our Religious profession; accordingly we made our first religious profession in the hands of Rev. Fr. Anthony Alessi, our Provincial on 4th April 1964 and moved on to Salesian College, Sonada, in a hurry to be on time for our degree studies. Life as Collegians Daily classes, especially philosophy lectures in Latin, absorbed much of our brain power and eagerly looking forward to some physical relaxation which we had during games. The thought of games absorbed much of my energy and imagination. Study and religious life did not appear such a priority even after the novitiate! Thank God, lively games as Don Bosco wanted kept me thoroughly engaged and kept me safe from otherwise troublesome adolescent and adult concerns which generally afflict many a youth. Games, after all, do have a very formative and educative role in one’s intellectual, physical and even spiritual growth. Besides, one has to be very attentive, unlike in class, to safeguard one’s body parts especially during games such as American war, hockey and squareball where balls fly past all over the place like bullets especially when Fr. Robert Kerketta (late Bishop of Tezpur) and Bro. Maurice take up rival positions. Of course during any AUGUST 2019
such match on feast days, there used to be a hapless-looking Rector, Fr. Logroi, anxiously following up with prayers. That was life in the colds of Sonada, leaving no space for weaklings! Of course oral examinations in Latin were also a cause of some anxiety and concern for some; but good and sympathetic superiors were there.
metamorphosis from students to staff. I was told to go to Savio Juniorate in Shillong and I set out in the beginning of November 1967. What I remember is a hectic time doing all kinds of things and totally immersed and falling asleep even while walking to assist the boys in the late hours of the night. I felt immensely happy, teaching, assisting and correcting Latin home-works daily, putting off the light of the teachers’ room at ten in the night to escape the watchful eye of the Rector--after all we are well convinced of what that famous theologian and Ecclesiastic, Lacordaire said: ’Duty well done spells Sanctity’.
The narrow-gauge train slithering up to Darjeeling and then down to Siliguri like a lazy python belching out continuously lot of smoke enthralled us all and we often rather than travelling by it, ran along it for fun, reaching the destination before its arrival. But one bitter sight etched deep in my mind Fr. Cassaroti, the provincial, told me of his of which I feel sad even to recall is the good- future plan to send me to Rome for theolowill gesture of our beloved Rector, Fr. Logroi. gy after my regency. But an year later I was told that Rome changed its policy of acceptOn a day when we were all set to go for holi- ing young clerics before ordination. Around days from Sonada, the Rector, Rev.Fr. Logroi, that time there was some trouble at our Uniwent ahead to Darjeeling to request the guard versità Pontificia Salesiana (UPS) caused to get the train stopped at the Salesian college by some students including two of our own gate, as an exception, so that we, the students, from Guwahati against the Holy See’s strong who were moving out with much luggage intervention against a professor at UPS. I was might do it conveniently. After getting the not at all perturbed by that news for I was not guard, a friendly guy, agree to it, Fr. Logroi thinking in that line at that time but engaged got inside the next passenger compartment fully in my present tasks at Juniorate. I had, in of the same train. fact, developed much interest in Economics which I was teaching at that time and had half To the surprise of Fr. Logroi the train was not a mind to do a M.A., if I was given a chance. stopping at the Salesian College gate and so he jumped out of the moving train to tell the A tragedy of a life time guard to stop the train; but Fr. Logroi being an amateur in this sort of things fell out onto While I was studying philosophy at Sonada, I the road. What an awful sight! Fr. Logroi was got the news that my mother was sick and the rolling on the road all bruised and bleeding Superiors allowed me to go home to see my and still shouting to the guard to stop. Lat- ailing mother. She was so delighted to see me er the guard confessed that a little after Fr. in cassock that she nearly recovered. Logroi’s instruction, the train inspector got inside and was travelling by it and so the As time went by and I was in my regency at Juguard was afraid to stop at this unauthorized niorate, my father used to share bits of inforplace. Little consolation to us at his belated mation about my mother’s condition which confession after seeing our Rector so badly was diagnosed as cancer and undergoing rebruised with blood and slush from head to quired treatment. I continued as usual to be foot. Nonetheless we, the holiday makers, happily engaged in my hectic activities as a ran down to the next station Kurseong while cleric in Juniorate. The fact that my mother’s Bro. Varkey brought down the luggage to health condition was fast deteriorating was Kurseong before the train arrived. What a sad not made known to me by my father with the best of intentions lest I be distracted from thing: a noble gesture badly executed! my pursuit to priesthood. Though I was conAs Brother in Regency cerned with my mother’s sickness yet I stayed tranquil with prayers until that day when my The jolly good time of three years went very eldest brother broke the terrible news of my fast. We were reminded of the seriousness mother’s death on 17/12/1969 by a telegram, of life to come as Brothers in regency, a real the quickest means available at that time. AUGUST 2019
11 | DIMAPUR LINKS
I felt so devastated at my mother’s death that I questioned my own existence. Everything appeared meaningless to me now because the enthusiasm I had in doing things as best as I could thus far, was partly motivated by mother’s encouragement and my effort to make her happy. I went home with a broken heart and returned within a few days to Juniorate. One day as I was reading a short poem from my personal diary which was partly my own composition of those gloomy days, I was met by Fr. Cassaroti, the provincial and after looking at what I was reading and guessing my facial expression, he comforted me with such empathy that I felt much relieved and slowly and steadily returned to normal.
lege I had to go to Madras city to get permission from the Customs officials to take charge of a big consignment of second-hand clothes coming from abroad for free distribution among the poor. On my return one of my classmates and a close confidant from the same province asked me to show him my passport and when I told him that I did not have any, he was not convinced and was even annoyed as if I was trying to hide from him the real truth and it even cooled off our friendship quite a bit. Truth has no evidence most of the time and one has to put up with the consequences. Of course in those years unlike in the present times a passport meant going abroad immediately. Probably he, like some others, was thinking that I am quietA year passed and it was time to make the per- ly preparing to go abroad for my theological petual profession which took place at Sunny- studies! side on 31st January 1970 with the thought of proceeding for theology. For the three years At the end of two years of my theology Fr. and a half of my regency I kept myself busy M. C. Thomas, the then vice provincial of within the confines of Savio Juniorate except Guwahati province and current Archbishfor a quick trip to Kerala at the death of my op emeritus, asked me to attend a five-day mother and another trip accompanying some South Asia Youth Animators’ Seminar. I went 42 aspirants for their home holidays. As my with another companion from Madras provregency was drawing to a close and before ince, Jose Arimpoor a long time enthusiast proceeding for theology to Bangalore, I was in youth work. In the following year two of given a short leisure trip by my Rector, Rev. us with due permission organized at Kristu Fr. Mathew Pulingathil to see at least a little Jyoti College an ‘All India Youth Animators bit of our Salesian mission of Assam. Accord- Seminar’ for the Salesain family, both priests ingly Fr. Rector himself arranged a trip for and nuns, a first of its kind, with five particme by air to some places of Assam. Enthusi- ipants each from every province of India. Fr. astically I undertook the trip, landing first at Jose Arimpoor continued enthusiastically his Lilabari airport and then at Tezpur and final- tryst with youth, but even though I loved the ly at Guwahati and back to Juniorate. It was youth, yet my heart was not there -- may be a real eye opener for me to see a little bit of to the disappointment of Fr. M. C. Thomas, Assam and some of our Salesian centres for who perhaps thought that I could be a youth the first time. I remain ever grateful to my animator in the province! Rector, Fr. Mathew Pulingathil, for such an In the same year, Fr. Orestes Paviotti who was opportunity. teaching me at Kristu Jyothi College and inTheology and Priesthood tending to proceed to the undivided province of Assam for the Provincial Chapter informed On reaching Bangalore railway station, Fr. me that he would request my provincial to Paul Puthenangady, late professor of theology send me for Scripture studies in Rome. By and liturgy at Kristu Jyoti who came to wel- that time, I had information from my Provincome us at the station asked me one question cial that I would be going to study moral thewhich puzzled me for some time. He asked ology after my priesthood. I had already deme, ‘so you are coming here for theology’. Al- veloped a liking for it while studying at Kristu though I did not understand the meaning of Jyothi and so while I thanked Fr. Paviotti for the question still I replied in the affirmative. his effort on my behalf I told him of my preBut my mind was churning on that issue for ferred choice. In those days moral theology quite some time. was given great importance and there were daily classes in moral theology and weekly Once as secretary of SSG at Kristu Jyoti Col- consultations on moral issues among priests DIMAPUR LINKS | 12
in active ministry under the title, ‘casus conscientiae’ which sought solutions on current moral issues which I liked immensely. It was a serious attempt in the tradition of the Catholic Church to provide solutions on vexing moral issues and thus restore tranquillity to the erroneous or perplexed consciences. At present many don’t seem to believe in such complexity but only certainty!
ral courses. In the meantime Fr. Provincial, Rev. Fr. Mathew Pulingathil, had told me to reach the province as soon as the course at Bangalore got over so that I might have six months of pastoral experience which is required according to the new directives of Rome for further ecclesiastical studies. So on 20th March, immediately after the course at Kristu Jyothi, I took the train to Madras and then took the Chennai- Calcutta flight and After my third year of theology and as a dea- reached Punanamai (Mao) in Manipur to con I opted to work with Fr. Schlooz in the fulfil the six months requirement of pastoral leper colony of Vyasarpady. In all honesty I experience before leaving for Rome. must admit that I had a two-month scary but enriching pastoral experience in administer- In the meantime Fr. Provincial had transing the sacraments and especially Holy Com- ferred Fr.Scaria from Punanamai to the novimunion on their tongues whose faces, feet tiate in order to accommodate me there and and hands were so badly mangled by leprosy! I was supposed to leave Punanamai for Rome While some of the more fortunate ones who at the end of September. But my companion had been less afflicted and were able-bodied P.D. Pathrose who was to be ordained by that were afflicted by a different malaise called la- time, I was told by Fr. Provincial, opted out ziness and so while working with them I was and so no replacement could be found for morally and psychologically shocked at their me immediately and so I had to stay on at quick, quarrelsome temper ending with an Punanamai. effortless lifting up of their saris or dhotis at their opponents at the slightest of provoca- The story of P.D.Pathrose, my novitiate comtion. I am of firm opinion that Fr. Schlooz is panion, was bit of a puzzle for many of us. By opting out from priesthood, he not only a saint to have worked among such people. scuttled Fr. Provincial’s plans but also denied Finally on 19th December 1973 I was or- a well-deserved joy to our novice Master, Fr. dained a priest, the day I was longing for Joseph Bacchiarello, who expected ten of and intently preparing for the past 16 years. his novices to be priests. Nine of us reached Of course one big void I felt on that day was priesthood, and the tenth was to be Pathrose! the absence of my beloved mother whose joy would have known no bounds if she was alive. Missionary Experience in Mao There is a famous saying ‘Man proposes, God disposes’! However, my father was there and Besides the two-months of experience at Don he was overjoyed amidst his hectic prepara- Bosco School, Kohima, during my second tions for my ordination. I was ordained with year of theological studies at Bangalore as a some Salesians of the northern part of Kerala helper to Fr. John Med in the absence of Fr. at the Trichur Cathedral by Rt. Rev. Bishop Ittyachen who was in Rome for the General Chapter, I was always in the formation housJoseph Kundukulam. es and so the life in the mission proved to be Being the first priest of my parish after a gap challenging and fascinating. Mao (Punanaof 40 years, it was a great day of joy for the mei) parish was geographically vast in those entire parish and at my Golden Jubilee cele- years and there were only two priests to tour bration of religious profession in my parish the whole area and administer the sacraments. in 2014, some priests observed that they were Since I was told that I had only a short time highly enthused to be priests after my exam- in Mao; I told the parish priest, Fr. Tharakan ple. Currently there are 20 priests from the Mathew that I should tour the villages more parish working in different parts of the world. often than him, so that he could spend more time at the centre. Accordingly I began my A short Stint as Missionary long tours which lasted 18 to 22 days every month except in July when the rains are in After nearly a month of celebration, we re- full force and people are busy working in the turned to Kristu Jyothi to resume our pasto- fields. AUGUST 2019
13 | DIMAPUR LINKS
I had some very interesting experiences while visiting the villages. On reaching Maram Khullen, a large village, I wanted to pay my homage to the ‘king’ and if possible to win over him either as a convert or at least as a friend of the mission. As I entered his house in the morning after Holy Mass with a broad smile, one cock and some hens flew over my head from the attic of the house to the ground all in great commotion and in the process dropping some hot stuff over my head. I assure you; my broad smile simply vanished from my face even though the king was very sympathetic and provided a royal breakfast with some roasted meat from his fire place and potatoes with some warm concoction. Luckily I had a cap on my head and ever since I decided to wear a cap. Am I bald due to the shock or the drop? Kajang is a dangerous distant village in Maram area which we reached after clearing the overhead thorny shrubs and wild grass as we move ahead. Fr. Tharakan had given them six goats as a profitable employment scheme. After few months the catechist reported that they were eaten by tigers from the jungle. I went to this village of 12 houses to catechize and to verify. In the evening I went for bath in a temporary enclosure made of leaves some distance away. As I poured some water over my head, I heard a loud growl apparently that of a tiger. That was the end of my bath for that day. When I reached back I reported to Fr. Tharakan that the goats might have been eaten either by the tiger or the villagers. One day I reached Okhlong from Willong and after a bath I felt quite fresh from the day-long walk and secure from the dreaded leeches. I sat down in all tranquility to hear confessions after the instruction with the holy rosary in my hand. As I was hearing confessions I felt a little, chilly itch on my right ear lobe and so I tried gently to scratch; but to my surprise as I squeezed, I felt something thin and long hanging on my ear and what followed was an impromptu loud shout from me! The next thing I noticed was the woman who was in the confessional running out and the rosary missing from my hand. On gaining my composure, I noticed an eerie silence in the chapel and both the confessions and the recitation of the holy rosary abruptly ended. I told the catechist to continue the recitation of the rosary. DIMAPUR LINKS | 14
After the rosary I explained to the faithful, who were still praying in the chapel, the reason of my spontaneous shout lest others might misjudge the woman who ran out of the confessional. The catechists and others searched in and around the chapel for my lost rosary but to no avail. You can imagine by now the horror I have for leeches!! I was not very fond of meat especially if they are cooked without curry powder which would camouflage the original colour of the meat. But in most of those remote villages even salt was not available in those days-in fact on one Easter week I bought some salt from Maram bazaar and parceled it out among the villagers. On an Easter Sunday out of great appreciation for my visit to them on foot from so far, they prepared among other things a plateful of various types of meat consisting of pork, chicken and dog. The girls brought it with such aplomb to my room for me to eat. Not knowing what to do and not wanting to displease the villagers who were so affectionate to offer their very best and wanting to show them that I did eat some of their meaty delicacies, I took some pieces of meat and threw them down the floor as soon as the girls had left my room. There was such a commotion and fight among the dogs that had positioned themselves well in advance below the floor that the elders who were relishing their meals in the adjacent house with the catechist rushed to protect me from the furious dogs, who they thought, were attacking the Father. At the end they were relieved and happy that I was not only safe from the dogs but also (thought) that I ate up their choice meat preparation. On another occasion, I visited Purul Akutpa and lodged myself in Mr. Peter’s house. He was a Catholic and headmaster of the village school. The army every time used to invite me to their camp for meals as many used to be from the South. After refusing them many times, during one visit I obliged them and went to them for supper and returned to Peter’s house. At around midnight I got up with a blotted stomach and suffocating. So I called up the catechist in the adjacent room. He looked very much alarmed at my condition and woke up some others and proceeded to give some massage and some herbal liquid to drink and at my insistence they returned to the room to sleep but I felt as if my stomAUGUST 2019
ach was bursting. So I thought it best to prepare myself to meet the lord and accordingly I made a fervent act of contrition and with much difficulty I took out my private diary and wrote, “mortuus sum cum cibo veneno” ( I died of food poisoning!) only for Fr. Scaria to know the cause of my death and not to implicate anybody. After that I continued my struggle for breadth. But to my great surprise on my waking the next day I found myself to be alive. After the Mass and a scanty breakfast we took to the road once again for the next village. The above Latin sentence, I must admit, is not Ciceronian Latin but a practical method to share secrecy. Once I was returning from Oinam, a hotbed of underground activity, and I could hear gunshots a little behind and to my surprise a group of soldiers on horseback raced up towards us from below and on seeing me the leader got down from his horseback and introduced himself as captain Kumar with an initial disdain but later with some familiarity. During the short conversation he observed, “Christian missionaries like you are seen everywhere even in these remote and difficult terrains and rendering all sorts of service to these people but how is it that you haven’t done anything to tame them?” Being eager to reach the next village before dark, I told the army captain quite abruptly, “Sir, if your head is still on your shoulders, you owe it to the Christian missionaries for these are the descendants of the once famous head hunters”. Was he impressed? I don’t know but with that we parted ways.
From Mission Mao to Hotel Europa In May 1976 I left Mao for Poona (Pune), staying for a short time at Don Bosco known as Hotel Europa and then at Holy Cross Seminary and then at Papal Seminary while doing six months of studies of French and German to begin with and two years of M.Th. in Poona. When it was about to get over, I was told to specialize in moral theology in order to meet another priority of teaching at Sacred Heart Th. College which was about to reopen at Mawlai and to readjust my courses of studies. So I concluded my M.Th. at Poona with a dissertation entitled, “The Nature of Conscience and its Right to Freedom”. But at the same time, I told the provincial that such shortcuts would be insufficient to teach in the theologate and so he told me to do immediately what is required at the Gregorian University of Rome. Accordingly as soon as I finished the defence of my dissertation at Papal Athenaeum in Poona, I took off to Rome to commence my next two-year license course in moral theology at the Gregorianum.
At the Gregorianum the Dean of theology, Dr. Colin told me to do the doctorate straight away instead of a two-year licence programme again. I told him that I had to do a licence in moral theology as I had to teach it. So I asked him for permission to do some courses in other universities of my choice. This was readily granted and so I attended courses in ‘Academia Alfonsiana’ with noted moralists like Bernard Häring and in Lateran University under Manuel Zalba of manualistic tradition, and of course at Gregorianum These are but a few reminiscences I had with the world renowned moralist Fr. Josef among many in a short span of my stay as Fuchs and a host of professors of my choice. a missionary at Mao. Finally Fr. Provincial When I finished two years there, I returned found a replacement for me in the person of to Shillong. Fr. Chacko Edamala. Here I must remind the readers that those were the days of post Vati- Armed with two licenses I ventured out to can II renewal and experimentation: a period teach in Sacred Heart Theological College of grass-root theology, theology from below in 1980 where I was assigned both systemand theology from above, cycle priests and atic theology and moral theology. Upon my working priests, etc. But I was already warned arrival at Shillong I was happy to meet my by Fr. Paviotti during my theology days that I former provincial as my Rector in the theolomust be careful not to be easily carried away gate. While teaching in Shillong, I was also by newfangled ideas. That apart, next I was Registrar and a little later also headmaster asked to go to the Papal Athenaeum at Poona of Sacred Heart Boys’ High School, replac(Pune) and specialize in Indian theology as ing Fr. Thomas Mattam who had met with a serious accident. I was quite happy as things an urgent priority. were going on smoothly to my liking and without ever having the need to ask for anyAUGUST 2019
15 | DIMAPUR LINKS
thing. However during these five years I felt On the day of my doctoral defence after four that I was not doing justice to my teaching as years of work, my director told those attendI should. ed my defence that I was â€˜more Roman than the Popeâ€™ and the defence ended that way and At that time there were two currents of I returned to India with a doctorate. thought. On the one hand the Provincial Fr. Mathai Kochuparambil was more than I started my second stint of teaching at Saconvinced that two licences were more than cred Heart Theological College in 1990 and I enough and also wanted the professors to en- was able to devote more time to teaching and gage in many other activities besides teaching to inter-related intellectual activities, mostly theology. On the other hand, pressure from sedentary and time consuming such as writthe university following the requirements of ing pastoral letters for Bishops, various types Sapientia Christiana (1979) to have at least of disciplinary interventions on behalf of the one doctor in every subject as requirement provinces which were done mostly in anofor granting Baccalaureate (B.Th) to students nymity and secrecy. I felt time flying but quite of theology. happy and content. In 1996 when I was asked to be the president of the faculty, I showed I left for Rome to do my doctorate in moral my first dissent and I wrote to the major sutheology after five years of teaching at Sacred periors in Rome explaining my reason for the Heart Th. College. At Gregorian I chose as refusal - a copy of my letter can be found in moderator Dr. Jacques Dupuis, a French pro- the files of Most Rev. Msgr. Luc Van Looy, the fessor who was teaching earlier at Vidyajyo- then vicar of the Rector Major and a facilitati, Delhi and considered to be a progressive tor of the academic interests of Sacred Heart and controversial theologian. So in Rome I Th. College with Rome. requested him to be the director of my thesis. He readily accepted. But when I presentAfter seven years as president of Sacred ed him the synopsis of my thesis which dealt Heart Th. College and feeling the pressure of with mandatory nature of priestly celibacy, he advancing age aggravated by frequent high was hesitant wondering whether I would be blood pressure, I thought of returning to my able to defend it in the current polemics that province. I had my regrets in leaving Sacred was raging in the Church and he himself, as I Heart Th. College for I loved teaching espehave already known, was an ardent supporter cially moral theology where I gained much of optional celibacy. I told him that he could confidence in matters of Christian morality. accept or reject my thesis on the basis of the I tried to be up-to-date in all aspects of my evidence and so he accepted with a condition subject and gain some expertise and be a rethat I would not write for two years till a thor- liable source of reference not out of vanity ough research on the topic was done. On that but out of responsibility towards the Church understanding I started my hunt for libraries and the congregation which had invested so and among them was the British library and much time and money towards my studies. its conglomerates at London. Towards the end of my term as president, I The Salesian confreres of London and the received a phone call from Fr. Philip Barjo, British library extended to me all facilities as the Provincial informing me that Fr. Luc Van a Salesian and a research scholar. The British Looy, the Vicar of the Rector Major wanted library would provide me any book for free me to go to Rome and take up teaching at the from any of the six major libraries of Lon- faculty of Canon Law as the Dean of Canon don within 24 hours of request. The British law at UPS had expired. I told Fr. Provincial confreres were exceptionally kind and cour- that I would consider the proposal and a little teous. On Saturday evenings, of course, the later I refused the offer on the same health confreres used to have their community day ground. However, I agreed to the request of wherein their community spirit would soar the Guwahati provincial to be a visiting prohigh with much bonhomie. One or two times fessor till a regular moral theology professor I joined them but later I used to spend longer could be found. time on Saturdays at the library and return only at supper time. DIMAPUR LINKS | 16
My return to my Province When the province of Dimapur was started in 1981, I voluntarily opted for Dimapur with the intention of returning someday to the province where I already had a brief but pleasant missionary and pastoral stint. So in 2003 when I was planning to lay down my office as president I had already mooted the idea to Fr. M. P. Thomas, the provincial, who was more than eager that I return to the province. Finally as things turned out I was asked to be the warden of Don Bosco College hostel, Maram. Although it was a good place climatically and I enjoyed interacting with college students and especially with the hostel boys, my heart condition made my movements difficult in the hilly terrain especially climbing up and down which I often did with some sorbitrate tablets under the tongue. Ultimately I had to undergo a bypass surgery in 2008. While on recovery I was asked to be the Rector in the same place which also was not very helpful in spite of the good will of every one. The doctor who was treating me and also the provincial advised me that hills were not the best option for me at that time of recovery from a heart surgery. After three years at Maram I have been transferred to the plains of Imphal, Don Bosco Chingmeirong, where I am still to this day. I found this transfer quite providential as medical facilities are easily accessible here. I conclude by saying that I am ever grateful to everyone and above all to God. Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam. - Fr. Sebastian Pallissery, SDB, DBHSS, Chingmeirong â€“ Imphal
SYM CONDUCTS CAPACITY BUILDING On 26 June 2019, 65 students of class 12 (B) of Don Bosco Hr. Sec School, Dimapur, attended the Capacity Building programme conducted by the Salesian Youth Ministry (SYM) commission of Dimapur Province at Don Bosco Institute for Development & Leadership (DBIDL). Fr./Dr. A. J. Sebastian dealt with (1) Time Management, (2) Study Habits and (3) Career Guidance. After a break at 10.15 am Mr. Kaisii Stephen interacted with the students on the topic of Team Management through different motivational games and group discussions, helping them to discover their inner self. After the lunch break Mr. Victor Pameih animated the students on Personality Development. He insisted on cultivating positive thoughts will bring changes in life and mould oneâ€™s personality. The last session was conducted by Dr./Fr. Peter Salew on the life of Don Bosco and his teaching. - Ms. Inalika Regina Youth Animator, SYM, Dimapur
17 | DIMAPUR LINKS
FIRST EVER BODO CATHOLIC MEET HOSTED AT SCHE
The First ever Bodo Catholic Meet was held at Salesian College of Higher Education. Dimapur. Around 120 people attended. The chief guest for the occasion was Rev. Fr. Jeremias Moshahary from Don Bosco Higher Secondary School, Imphal. The guest of honor was Rev. Fr. C. D. Mathai sdb, SCHE Dean of studies.
A solemn Eucharistic celebration was presided over by Fr. Moshary sdb. This was followed by a felicitation programme consisting of colourful Bodo cultural items. The two invitees gave motivational talks. They were also felicitated with Bodo mufflars. - Cleric John Basumatary sdb, BCTE Dimapur
SYM PRESENTS SALESIAN EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM TO BCTE FRESHERS
On 25 July 2019 the Salesian Youth Ministry (SYM) Team of Dimapur Province conducted an animation programme for the 80 freshers of Bosco College of Teacher Education (BCTE), Dimapur. Fr. (Dr.) Peter Salew sdb presented the Educational System of Don Bosco, highlighting its essential elements. Mr. Stephen dealt on Goal Setting and Mr. Victor on Traditional and Modern constructive classrooms. The resource persons effectively used PowerPoint programmes, audio-visuals, the ice breaker activities, action songs, party games and a great DIMAPUR LINKS | 18
dose of humour in presenting their respective themes of animation. The Vice Principal, Fr. (Dr.) Nicholas Guangdiat sdb, while introducing the resource persons made amply clear that the Educational System of Don Bosco known as the 'Preventive System' based on Reason-Religion-Kindness, is practiced in 132 nations across the world. - Miss Inalika Regina, Youth Animator, Dimapur AUGUST 2019
SCHE ORGANIZES RONGMEI YOUTH FEST
The Salesian College of Higher Education (SCHE) organized “Rongmei Youth Fest” at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Diphupar on 28 July 28019. The programme was conducted under the theme ‘Khatna Suna Kariumei’ (Together as one). The programme aimed at uniting the Rongmei Youth of Dimapur. The events of the programme included: (a) Holy Mass by the Chief guest Dr./ Fr. Nicholas Guangdiat sdb, Vice- Principal of Bosco College of Teacher Education, (b) Various competitions (Choir,
duet and prayer dance), (c) Motivational talks, (d) chance games and entertainment. The chief guest in his talk underscored the uniqueness of Christian and Catholic faith. He stressed on the values of assembling and working together in faith. He encouraged and motivated over 100 youth turned up for the occasion. - DL Correspondent,
SCHE HOSTS WORLD COMMUNICATIONS DAY Salesian College of Higher Education, Dimapur, hosted the 53rd World Communications Day celebration on 28 July 2019 under the theme “From Social Network Communities to the Human Community”. Based on the Scripture quote from Ephesians 4:25, “We are members one of another” Pope Francis’ message for the occasion urges all to rediscover the positive potential of the internet, by invoking the images of media-network, the community and the human body made up of different members working together. He invites all to reflect on the foundation and importance of our being-in-relation and to rediscover the desire of the human person who does not want to be left isolated and alone. “The community as a network of solidarity”, says the Pope “requires mutual listening and dialogue, based on the responsible use of language”. In his homily Fr. Jonas Kerketta sdb referred to the immense possibilities offered by today’s social media for building better AUGUST 2019
individuals, families and societies. On the other he also pointed out the harms that can be caused by wrong and unbridled use of the same media. He referred to abuses like cyber-bullying, cyber-hacking, cyber-morphing, dissemination of fake news, etc. He highlighted the importance of the Pope’s message for freeing people from being entrapped by the ‘net’ and also for helping them to form living human communities in the real world. During the offertory procession symbolic gifts were offered like the Radio set, TV monitor, laptop and smartphone besides the Eucharistic bread and wine, with accompanying prayer for each of the gifts. The Brothers of Salesian College and of Bosco B.Ed. College, as well as the Novices of St. Ursula Novitiate actively helped the congregation to participate meaningfully in the day’s celebrations. - Fr. Anthony Christudoss sdb, SCHE, Dimapur
19 | DIMAPUR LINKS
POPE FOUND SUSHMA SWARAJ VERY SPIRITUAL: CARDINAL GRACIAS
Pope Francis had found Sushma Swaraj, India’s former foreign minister who died on 6 August 2019, “a very spiritual person,” according to Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the head of the Catholic Church in India. The cardinal, who is the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and archbishop of Mumbai, mourned Swaraj’s death saying the nation has lost a great Indian. “She was a very able administrator, a versatile leader and was effective in every assignment given to her,” the cardinal wrote in his condolence message. The cardinal recalled Swaraj meeting Pope Francis when she had led an Indian delegation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the Vatican. “She met Pope Francis on the occasion and the Holy Father later remarked that the Indian Foreign Minister is a very spiritual person,” said the cardinal, who is a member of the Pope’s advisory council. The prelate said he had met Swaraj in 2003 when she was the health minister in the Vajpayee government. “From the interaction I had with her, I sensed that she brought a human touch to all decisions of the ministry,” he
DIMAPUR LINKS | 20
added. According to the Indian Church leader, Swaraj was “our best ambassador” as the foreign minister since she could project “the great image of the country in international circles.” He also said that “all Indians abroad who were in any difficulty found in her a sympathetic minister who went out of her way to help them.” The cardinal recalled with gratitude Swaraj’s interest and assistance for the release of Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil who was kept in captivity in Yemen for over a year. According to Cardinal Gracias, Swaraj led the government delegation for Mother Teresa’s canonization as she had “a special devotion” to the founder of the Missionaries of Charity. Swaraj died at All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi late night on 6 August 2019 after suffering a massive heart attack. She was 66. Swaraj’s husband Kaushal Swaraj and daughter saluted the mortal remains, wrapped in a tricolor, as they were kept on a hearse decorated with flowers at the office of the Bharatiya Janata Party, before its final journey to Lodhi Road crematorium. India on 7 August 2019 bid an emotional farewell to Swaraj, as her mortal remains were cremated with full state honors in the presence of top political leaders and hundreds of her grieving admirers. Swaraj’s daughter Bansuri performed the last rites. - Courtesy: Matters India, 8 August 2019
21 | DIMAPUR LINKS
DIMAPUR LINKS | 22