Message A YEAR OF GRACE WITH MANIFOLD FRUITS
ugust 16, 2015 was a very significant day for us to profoundly thank God for the gift of Don Bosco, to the Church, to the Salesian Congregation and to the entire world. During the Bicentenary Celebration of his Birth, we recalled to our mind Don Bosco's life and mission – a man of God, blessed abundantly with gifts of nature and grace, deeply human, and open to the signs of the times. At the conclusion of the Bicentenary celebrations, Rector Major invites us to renew and recommit ourselves to the charism and spirituality we have received from Don Bosco. In his letter of 25 July, 2015, Rector Major highlighted the fruits of the Bicentenary Celebrations: “In harmony with what Pope Francis wrote in his message for the opening of the Year of Consecrated Life, a first aim was 'to look to the past with gratitude,' and in the external aspect of the hundreds of celebrations of all kinds that have taken place, we have been able to acknowledge and give thanks for this gift of God that Don Bosco is for the Church and the world. The fruits of the Bicentenary are really life-giving because the yearlong celebration enabled every member of the congregation to know in depth the mission and vision of Don Bosco.” Pope Francis proposes to us as religious, this programme: “Being full of joy shows everyone that following Christ and putting his Gospel into practice fills your heart with happiness. Infect those who are near you with this joy.” Many times we have recalled that we are not social workers nor are our works places for social service no matter how great the good we may be doing in them and through them. We are above all believers, persons consecrated by God in our religious state. We are called to be men who are living by Faith and make the Primacy of God a reality in our lives without ever forgetting that above all else we ought to be “seekers of God” and witnesses to His Love for the young. Don Bosco lived his whole life with deep faith, filled with God, and for this reason gave his life to the last breath for and always for the sake of his boys. He lived radically caught up in God's storyline.
Fr. VM Thomas SDB Provincial, Guwahati
Pope Francis in the message says: “Wake up the world, illuminate it with your prophetic and counter cultural witness!” Our Salesian way of illuminating the world in a prophetic and counter cultural way is with this radical approach in all of us and in all our presences. We remind ourselves that the path of our fidelity is the preferential option for the poorest young people. Don Bosco left a legacy. His ideals and his spirit are all still with us. Don Bosco, the humble country priest, whose life and ministry as a Pastor and brilliant educator, made a tremendous impact in the lives of the marginalized youth and poor people of his time two centuries ago, continues to inspire and benefit millions of young people over the years. In the field of education and spirituality, Don Bosco remains very relevant today, as Pastor and Educator. His spiritual message, “God's will is your holiness” and his educative method based on “Reason, Religion and Loving Kindness” appeal to the young and the old. This legacy must live on. I firmly believe that the fruit of the bicentenary celebrations should be “rebirth” of Don Bosco's spirituality in all of us. It is a time to look into the future with much more hope, optimism and courage. And above all it is a challenge to reinvest ourselves for the young people who are the real source of our inspiration as we believe they are a transformative force, creative, resourceful and enthusiastic agents for building up a new world. This commemoration is not just a glorification of a person; it is much more than that. Don Bosco has left us a legacy of union with God, goodness and kindness especially through his pedagogical style. The bicentenary should lead us to love, know and imitate Don Bosco and make ourselves relevant for today's society by our renewed commitment to God and to the youth of today through our creative fidelity.
Concludes Birth Bicentenary of Don Bosco n January 31, 2012, the feast of St. John Bosco, Fr. Pascual Chavez, Rector Major of the Salesian Congregation, sent a letter to Salesians setting out for them a journey of preparation for the bicentennial celebration of Don Bosco's birth: “We are approaching the bicentennial of Don Bosco's birth, which will be celebrated on August 16, 2015. It is a very special event for us, for all the Salesian Family, and for the whole Salesian Movement, which requires an intense and profound process of preparation, so that it may prove fruitful for all of us, for the Church, for the young, and for society.” In this letter he proposed three phases of study, one each year, for knowing Don Bosco more deeply. "In this way we can rediscover the origin of our charism, the purpose of our mission, the future of our Congregation." (AGC 394) The same course was suggested to the Salesian Family by means of the traditional Strenna, an annual message by the Rector Major providing impetus for growth in the Salesian family. “It's not a nostalgic look back at the past, nor a parochial event, but an opportunity to renew our commitment to reach young people and accompany them in their challenges.” With these words, Fr Pascual Chávez, then Rector Major of the Salesians, revealed to reporters during an international press conference, the significance of the Bicentenary Year
of the Birth of Don Bosco (1815-2015), which will open on 16 August 2014. The Press Conference held in Rome in the morning, 6 February, at the Foreign Press Association in Italy Fr. Chávez emphasizes the relevance of Don Bosco in our time, he said that “he knew how to read the social reality of his time, he recognised poor young people as the first recipients of his efforts and he gave them the best gift had to offer – education.” The then Rector Major outlined the three major challenges facing young people today and showed how the responses of Don Bosco are still relevant today. The best way to respond to young people's lack of selfconfidence is by involving them in activities. Fear of the future can be overcome through education and professional training. The generation gap between the world of adults and youth can be met only by being present with the young and sharing life with them. The Year of the Bicentenary of the Birth of Don Bosco (16 August 2014 – 16 August 2015) is a year of celebration to remember a man whose teaching, after 200 years, is still as relevant as the subject of the education of young. It comes after three years of preparation that led the whole Salesian Family to rediscover the history (2011-2012), pedagogy (20122013) and spirituality (2013-2014) of the priest, educator and saint from Turin.
Continuing in the spirit of the Congregation, the Province of Guwahati concluded the Bicentenary Celebrations of Don Bosco’s Birth on 7th to 9th August. The Youth Rally, Exhibition and various competitions were held with great enthusiasm on 7th August 2015 at Don Bosco School, Panbazar, St. Mary’s Guwahati and Don Bosco Institute, Kharghuli
NEWSLINE, GUWAHATI PROVINCE
Bicentenary PEACE RALLY
More than 3,000 students and young people turned out for the Peace Rally on August 7th on the streets of Guwahati, as part of the celebration of Bicentennial of the Birth of Don Bosco.
The Peace Rally attracted various members of the Salesian Family – young people, parents, children and religious, singing and cheering, carrying signs about Don Bosco and the value he teaches.
Speaking on the occasion, Fr. Sebastian Kuricheril, the principal of Don Bosco School, Panbazar and the Joint Organising Secretary of the Bicentenary Celebration said that this event “can be read as a sign of the sensibility there is today towards justice and peace, especially in a society that sometimes 'shakes up' the day to day living of the people. There's a lot of different ways of thinking, but not the attention due the society, and it's obvious that this brings with it consequences that are not positive,” he said. “The idea behind this march wasn't to come out against anything or anybody, instead it was to reaffirm a value that we consider very important,” he added.
Finally, the Provincial Fr. VM Thomas encouraged everyone to participate in the various activities that will take place to commemorate and celebrate the bicentennial of Don Bosco's birth. He also invited those gathered to get to know better the saint. “There are people who go through this world leaving their mark and they leave their mark in society where it can be felt the most and that's education. Don Bosco was one of them… I think Don Bosco is alive today because he is not the private property of the Salesian Congregation or the Salesian Family, he is a gift from God to the Church and a gift from God to humanity,” he said.
He also added that looking at the faces of thousands of young people that the Salesians served encourages one to work even harder inspite of all adversaries and protests. “When we experience these gifts and learn to love them, they are enriching for everyone, both for those who have experienced the Salesian charism from childhood as well as those who are experiencing it now… I invite you to draw close to the person of Don Bosco and you will be always be enriched by it,” Fr. VM Thomas concluded.
23 schools of the Salesian family took part in the various competitions held soon after the rally. The well prepared Quiz on Don Bosco enthralled every participant. Other competitions that was organized to celebrate the 200 years of Don Bosco’s Birth were Painting, Collage, Talent show, Classical Dance, Speech and Singing. The competitions concluded with the Prize distributions. Fr. VM Thomas the Provincial, Fr. Johnson Parackal, the Organising Secretary, Fr. Sabastian Kuricheril, the Joint Organising Secretary and Treasurer, the members of the Salesian family and young people gathered at the Mama Magareth Hall for the Prize distribution.
Events and Competitions
RESULTS of the VARIOUS COMPETITIONS 1. CHOIR SINGING COMPETITION First – Don Bosco School, Panbazar Second – Don Bosco School, Haflong Third – Little Flower School, Hatigaon 2. PAINTING COMPETITION First – Debaruna Bhattacharjee (St. Mary’s Guwahati) Second – Bhubneswar Goyary (Don Bosco School, Kokrajhar) Third – Kangana Kalita (Don Bosco School, Panbazar) 3. CLASSICAL DANCE COMPETITION First – St. Mary's School, Maligaon Second – Don Bosco School, Panbazar Third – Don Bosco School, Kokrajhar 4. QUIZ COMPETITION First – Don Bosco School, Haflong Second – Don Bosco Centre, Sirajuli Third – St. Mary's School, Guwahati 5. TALENT HUNT COMPETITION First – Gyan D. Bhuyan (Don Bosco School, Panbazar) Steven Thaoser (Don Bosco School, Haflong) Second – Syed Jaffrey Jaffar (Don Bosco School, Panbazar) Third – Holy Child School 6. COLLAGE COMPETITION First – St. Mary's School, Guwahati Second – St. Mary's School, Maligaon Third – Little Flower School, Hatigaon 7. SPEECH COMPETITION First – Sweta Deb (Holy Child School, Guwahati) Second – Atreyee Dutta (Little Flower School, Hatigaon) Third – Bikashita Medhi (St. Mary's School, Maligaon)
NEWSLINE, GUWAHATI PROVINCE
8. EXHIBITION First – St. Mary's School, Guwahati Second – Don Bosco School, Haflong Third – Child Friendly Guwahati (CFG)
Concluding Bicentennial Mass of St. John Bosco's Birth
Guwahati Archbishop John Moolachira celebrated the Mass of Thanksgiving at the Don Bosco School Auditorium, Guwahati. “The purpose of the life of St. John Bosco was to encounter Christ and help young people to encounter Christ,” the Archbishop said in his homily. The Archbishop also spoke of the humble roots and great impact that St. John Bosco had in his times and in today's world. “Don Bosco was a very poor child, in a rural area of Italy, without any possibility of studies, with a widowed mother. Now he's a great saint, a spiritual father of a big family in the Church, because he encountered Christ and learned the purpose of his life,” the Archbishop said. Like the founder, the Salesians of Don Bosco today should
reflect “a happy message of Christ,” the Archbishop said, adding, “…Be always happy. The best witness of our faith is happiness.” After the Holy Mass, Provincial Fr. VM Thomas thanked Archbishop John for inspiring the Salesian family members to “rediscover our father, Don Bosco.” Fr. Thomas added, “Don Bosco asks us to continue to be witnesses by our lives to holiness and peace, especially to the young and the poor.” Describing the Salesian world today, he said, “Jesus is the center of our lives, holding us together. We are branches around Jesus the vine.” Today the Salesians of Don Bosco constitute the second largest order in the Roman Catholic Church, with nearly 30,000 Salesian missionaries, including priests, brothers, sisters and novices, serving in 132 countries around the world “making life better for the world's poorest and neediest children and families,” Fr. Thomas added. After Mass, members of the Salesians of Don Bosco family along with all those present for the Holy Mass gathered around for a fellowship tea.
ike a family coming together to celebrate the gift of St. John Bosco, members of the Salesians family – including priests, brothers, sisters, lay collaborators and students came together on August 9 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Don Bosco and to conclude the yearlong celebration.
Union Minister Piyush Goyal praises
Don Bosco’s System of Education
n 8th August about a thousand teachers participated in the Bicentenary Educational Seminar. Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister, Power, Coal & Renewable Energy, Govt. of India was the Chief Guest on the occasion. The honourable Minister shared experience of his school days and draws lesson from it. Speaking at the Don Bosco Bicentenary Educational Seminar to conclude the Bicentenary Celebration of the Birth of Don Bosco of the Guwahati Province at the Machkhowa Pragjyoti ITA Centre for Performing Arts Union Minister for Power, Coal and Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal on Saturday 8th August laid stress on introducing moral education and civics in the country's educational curriculum. Besides promoting the message of love and feeling of oneness, India should be made the best place to live in and also a super power, he said.
NEWSLINE, GUWAHATI PROVINCE
Also underscoring the need to work unitedly for making the people of the country free from deprivation, poverty and illiteracy, he said that there
cannot be any limit for a society to give education to all its members. In this context, he asserted that the country should remember every teacher who worked for enlightening the people with honour. Let these teachers be treated as next only to God, he said. The Union Minister further said. “We should also inculcate the habit of thrift and ignite the spirit of inquisitiveness among the children. Let all of us pledge to contribute to create a better tomorrow for our children and the country as well.” Regretting the absence of moral education and civics in the country's educational curriculum, he said that if the value system, tolerance and fondness for cleanliness are inculcated among the children, things would stand quite apart from what they are today. A clean environment leads to a clean mind, he said. However, he lamented that the issue of introducing moral education is inviting a lot of opposition from various quarters. But good education should have moral education in its curriculum. “Moreover, since
by and large our people these days lack the elementary knowledge of civic science, civics should also be made a part of our curriculum,” he said.
besides freedom from poverty and illiteracy. They also inspired brotherhood among the countrymen, said the minister.
The Union Minister also maintained that the teachers should practice what they intend to preach and to make India a superpower, they should ignite the zeal among their students to excel in whatever field they (students) desire to engage themselves professionally.
He remembers with gratitude the great contributions of the Salesians fathers and sisters and fondly remembers the former headmasters and principals who guided him in his school days. “I came as an alumnus of the education system of Don Bosco, a system that makes individuals self reliance, a system that provide opportunities for young people for a better tomorrow,” he said. Fr. VM Thomas, Provincial while welcoming the union minister said that he was taken up by the kind gesture of Mr. Piyush Goyal who did Don Bosco proud by his presence at the concluding programme. “You have done us proud, we salute you,” Fr. Thomas said.
But, he said, the country needs to make all-round efforts to provide equal opportunities to all. Good education starts with equal opportunity to all and sundry. Besides, quality of education also counts, he said. An alumnus of the Don Bosco High School, Matunga, Mumbai, Goyal said as an educationist, Don Bosco not only brought changes in education, he had also laid stress on equal opportunities to all. The Indian freedom fighters also dreamt of equality,
Soulful rendition by the Shillong Chamber Choir
NEWSLINE, GUWAHATI PROVINCE
t 6.30 pm on August 8 about 1800 strong audience consisting of senior bureaucrats, eminent citizens, social activists was enthralled by Shillong Chamber Choir, in Don Bosco School Auditorium. The audience at the Don Bosco School, Panbazar auditorium were literally spellbound on the hot and sultry evening by an amazing soulful rendition of song and music by one of India's most acclaimed musical bands â€“ the Shillong Chamber Choir led by its founder Padmashree Neil Nongkynrih.
A galaxy of distinguished guests graced the powerpacked musical evening that included Pradyut Bordoloi, Spokesperson, Government of Assam as well as a former state minister, Dr. Dhruba Jyoti Saikia, Vice Chancellor, Cotton College State University, Dr. Jayanta Madhab, eminent economist, Patricia Mukhim, Editor, The Shillong Times, Justice Ujjal Bhuyan, Hon'ble Judge, Gauhati High Court, Manish Thakur, IAS, Commissioner and Secretary,
Government of Assam, KV Eapen, IAS, Chairman, ASEB, PP Verma, IAS (retd.), former Chief Secretary, Government of Assam, Amitabh Sinha, DCP (Central Guwahati Police District), Fr. VM Thomas, SDB, Salesian Provincial, Guwahati Province, Sr. Elizabeth George, Provincial, FMA, Guwahati Province amongst others. In his welcome address, Fr. VM Thomas, welcomed the dignitaries and also spoke about the life of Don Bosco the saint. A huge cake was also cut to commemorate the occasion, after which followed the lighting of the ceremonial lamp and floral tributes to Don Bosco. Soon afterwards, the Shillong Chamber Choir took centre stage and lead singer William Basaiawmoit started off by beautifully humming the prayer Our Father in Heaven. This was followed by musical bombardment of songs being dished out to the audience who enjoyed it to the core. The musicfrenzied audience yelled and cheered to each and every song they sang and were greeted with a
thunderous round of applause as the auditorium was abuzz with cacophony. The Hindi Bollywood songs, carefully selected both from the bygone era as well as the modern era made the audience go into a ‘musical trance’ as the lead vocalists William Basaiawmoit and Ibarisha Lyngdoh hummed along the entire evening. Some of hummable Hindi Bollywood numbers were Dil Tadap Tadap Ke, Baar Baar Dekho, Yeh Dosti, Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh, Dil Hai Chota Sa, Vande Mataram, etc. A few popular English numbers also gave a different feel towards the entire musical evening, and were also instant hits with the audience. What was most appealing with their performances was the swaying of their hips in tandem with their humming of the melodious numbers – more of a subtle synchronizing act of song, music and dance. The cultural evening finally ended with a formal vote of thanks by school Principal Fr. Sebastian Mathew which preceded the felicitation of the choir group by Fr. Johnson Parackal, Executive Director, DBI, Kharghuli.
Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal inaugurates DBSTI
NEWSLINE, GUWAHATI PROVINCE
nion Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, an alumnus of Don Bosco High School, Dibrugarh, on 16th August 2015 inaugurated the Don Bosco SocioTechnical Institute at Tezpur in Assam's Sonitpur district as part of the concluding programme of the Bicentenary Celebration of the Birth of Don Bosco of Guwahati Province. The concluding programme of the province brought together 500 youth leaders from the Salesian parishes and centres.
Present at the inaugural function were Vicechancellor of Tezpur University, Dr. Mihir Kanti Choudhury and the Vice-chancellor of Cotton College State University Dr. Dhruba Jyoti Saikia and Tezpur MP Mr. RP Sharma. The Institute was blessed by Rt. Rev. Michael Akasius, the Bishop o f Te z p u r w h i l e A r c h b i s h o p T h o m a s Menamparampil SDB, the bishop in-charge of Jowai Diocese was the main celebrant at the Holy Mass. He spoke of the contributions of Don Bosco and the Salesians in North East India. Bishop Akasius Toppo of Tezpur was also present at the Holy Mass accompanied by Fr. VM Thomas, Provincial of Guwahati, the members of the Provincial council, Fr. Cletus Sabastian, the Director of the new centre, a large number of priests, sisters, religious and lay people. While addressing the gathering the union minister lauded the Don Bosco society for the hard work put into transforming the society. â€œCongratulations to Don Bosco Society for establishing this institute in Tezpur. The Northeast is a land of possibilities, potential and
energy. It is not merely a land of problems. This institute will help the youth to be vibrant,â€? the union minister said. He also praised the activities of the Salesians in areas pertaining to education and youth care. He encouraged them to augment the government initiatives in skilling India.
Skills development has become a grave necessity today as educated unemployment is on the rise. The newly inaugurated institute will provide short-term skills training in such sectors as Security, Food & Beverages, Housekeeping, Nursing assistant, Basics in Computer, Spoken English and a host of other domains. The training is supported by the central government and the government of Assam thereby enabling the institute to offer these services free of cost. The institute will also undertake conflict-resolution activities as one of its major tasks. Assam and the northeast have been plagued by numerous inter-tribal and ethnic and religious conflicts. There is the persistent problem of insurgency and unrest. This institute intends to become a leaven of change in society by imparting peace and conflict resolution skills in educational institutions of Assam and encourage students to become peace volunteers, spreading awareness of peace and harmonious co-existence. In all this new initiative of the Don Bosco society in Tezpur is meant to transform the lives of youth of the region in days to come. - Fr. Cletus Sabastian
The Hon'ble member of parliament Shri R.P Sharma who was also a past pupil of Don Bosco spoke about the valued he imbibed as a young person from the Don Bosco School he studied that has now helped him to reach where he is. Several other dignitaries who spoke commended the work that Don Bosco Fathers and Brothers and Sisters have been doing for the uplift of youth and improving the education scenario in the northeast.
Bongaigaon Bishop Blesses Don Bosco Centre, Bongaigaon
he Don Bosco Centre, Bongaigaon was inaugurated on 1st August, 2015 at 11:00 am at Chapaguri. The event mark one of the closing events of Bicentenary celebration of the Birth of Don Bosco in the Salesian province of Guwahati.
NEWSLINE, GUWAHATI PROVINCE
Rt. Rev. Bishop Thomas Pulloppillil DD blessed and invoked God’s blessings on the new centre. The C h i e f G u e s t , S h r i . M a n i s h T h a k u r, I A S Commissioner & Secretary of Higher Education, Govt. of Assam inaugurated the new centre. The guests of honor Rev. Fr. V.M. Thomas SDB, Salesian Provincial of the province of Guwahati, Dr. (Fr.) Stephen Mavely SDB, Vice Chancellor of Assam Don Bosco University, Fr. K.J. Thomas SDB, Director of BRO, Mr. Ratneshwar Basumatary F.C.S. & C.A. of B.T.C and other esteemed guests were present at the august gathering.
There were numerous items prepared by different institutions to mark the occasion with distinct memories of the new initiative, a first of its kind in the districts of Bongaigaon and Chirang. Mr. Jonak Basumatary, one of the lay leaders of the Diocese of Bongaigaon thanked the Bishop of Bongaigaon and the Salesian provincial of Guwahati, Rev. Fr. V.M. Thomas SDB for establishing a centre and dedicating for the growth and development of the youth of the region. The chief guest in his speech recounted the wonders the missionaries have done in North-East India
especially in the most remote and difficult areas of the region. He shared his willingness to collaborate with the missionaries in the future. He said that if the government shared its works and schemes with the missionaries probably North-East would have been a different place today. Fr. V.M. Thomas in his speech dedicated the new centre to the all round development of the youth of the region. He said that the new centre would soon take a professional venture in both academic and skill development of the Youth. He remarked that it was his dream to do something for the youth of the region and indeed the reality marked the day. Dr. (Fr.) Stephen Mavely SDB vouched that the new centre would enhance the skills and capabilities of the young people of the region. Mr. Ratneswar Basumatary thanked the people involved in establishing the centre. He said that he was waiting to see an establishment of such kind to begin for the benefit of the people of the region. He said; “I am extremely glad to see things turning into reality.” Indeed, it was a red letter day for the districts of Bongaigaon and Chirang to have such a centre as much as for the Salesians Province of Guwahati to commemorate the new initiative as a distinct sketch to portrait the closing Bicentenary celebration of Don Bosco's Birth. - Br. Edward Kujur
Pope sends letter marking bicentenary of Don Bosco's birth
In the letter, dated June 24th, the feast day of St John Bosco, Pope Francis recalls his recent meeting with members of the Salesian family in the Basilica dedicated to Our Lady Help of Christians in Turin, where the 19th century saint is buried. Over the two centuries since Don Bosco was working with street children and disadvantaged youth in the northern Italian city, the Pope said Europe and the world has changed significantly, yet the aspirations of young people have not. While they are searching for an encounter with God and with their neighbours, the Pope said, they face the same challenges of â€œdiscouragement, spiritual anemia and marginalizationâ€?. Speaking of the legacy of Don Bosco, Pope Francis said he taught us not to stand on the sidelines but rather to work on the frontline in offering inclusive education, firmly grounded in faith and spirituality. This broad and demanding vision, he said, can be summarized by the phrase 'educate through evangelisation and evangelise through education'.
At the heart of Don Bosco's vision, the Pope continued, is love in action, reaching out to those most in need. This tireless missionary impulse, he said, has helped to develop a vast movement of poor people serving the poor, crossing boundaries of language, race, culture and religion. This work has always been characterised by a spirit of joy and celebration, he noted, offering young people ample space for sports and games, theatre and musical activities. Today, Pope Francis said, the Salesian family continues to reach out across new boundaries, using new means of communication to develop education projects in places marked by migration, injustice, ideological colonisation and the idolatry of money. The Pope appealed to Salesian men and women today to listen to young people and to speak to them in a language they can understand. Educators, he said, must help them navigate the social networks which so profoundly shape young peoples' views of religion and human life. Finally he urged them to encourage young people to engage in voluntary work, contrasting the ideology that markets and productivity take precedence over human dignity and the value of work. en.radiovaticana.va/news/
o mark the bicentenary of the birth of St John Bosco, Pope Francis has sent a letter to the head of the order, Don Angel Fernandez Artime. In the message, the Pope describes the Italian saint as a 'youth pastor' who developed a model of education and spiritual growth for young people, especially those on the margins of modern societies.
Vatican Ambassador lauds contribution of the Salesians to NE
NEWSLINE, GUWAHATI PROVINCE
is Excellency Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, the Vatican Ambassador to India on his way to Shillong was warmly received by the Salesians at the LGB International Airport, Guwahati on 23rd June. At the airport the visiting dignitary was presented with a plaque by the Salesian Provincial of Guwahati and the President of the Conference of Religious of India Rev Fr. VM Thomas. Most Rev. Dominic Jala, the Archbishop of Shillong was also present at the airport to receive the ambassador.
At a function held at the Don Bosco headquarter, Panbazar on 24th June, the visiting Ambassador presented the statue of the educator saint and friend of the young St. John Bosco to the Salesian Provincial of Guwahati as gesture of appreciation for the significant contribution of the Don Bosco family to the North East Region. He offered floral tributes to the statue of Don Bosco. “It is indeed a matter of great honour and pride for the Salesian family to be recognized by the Church especially during the bicentenary year of the birth of Don Bosco.” Fr. VM Thomas said on receiving the
statue from Archbishop Salvatore. “I deemed it a privilege that the Papal delegate himself presented the statue. This kind gesture speaks volume of the Church's recognition of our contribution to the people of North East,” Fr. Thomas said. The Nuncio was overwhelm at the reception he received from the Don Bosco family members and thank them for the contributions to the society. He told those who were gathered at the reception that when he was a kid he had great desire to become a Salesian. The Vatican Ambassador recalled the visit of the relic of Don Bosco to India. He said that the relic brought about a new spirit and vigour in the Salesian work. “Today the Salesians have contributed significantly to the region especially in the field of education and youth empowerment. The Salesians are being remembered with much love for their humanitarian services which have impacted almost every nook and corner of this region,” Archbishop Salvatore said. Archbishop Salvatore conveyed the greetings of Pope Francis who addressed the youth in Turin, the birth place of Don Bosco. -Fr. Zachary Varickasseril
Assam Don Bosco University Organises Digital India Week
Introducing the program, Pro Vice Chancellor Fr. Joseph Nellanattu highlighted the importance ADBU gives “to bridge the digital divide especially by making Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) accessible through easy to learn Spoken Tutorials promoted by IIT Bombay.” “Digital IT is power to share and collaborate,” said Chief Guest Mr Dinesh Pegu Managing Director Assam Electronics Development Corporation (AMTRON) speaking on the Government's point of view. Mr. Anwar Shirpurwala, Executive Director, Manufacturers Association for Information Technology (MAIT) spoke on collaborating with the Digital India Mission. He called on students to come forward and be part of the Research Unit of Digital India Action Group. Mr. Vjiay Prasad, Asst Professor, at ADBU Department of Computer Science & Engineering & IT gave a presentation on practical learning aspects of Spoken Tutorial in helping students learn several Open Source Software. One of the organizers of the program technology evangelist Mr. Lanu Ignatius is closely associated with Don Bosco Schools and Digital India mission in Northeast. Director DBIM Fr. Johnson Parackal welcomed the participants. - Fr. C M Paul
DBIM New Academic Year The new academic year of the Don Bosco Institute of Management (DBIM) was inaugurated by Mr..Subramaniam Ramadorai, Chairman National Skill Development Agency and National Skill Development Corporation and the special advisor on skill development programme to the Prime Minister of India on 6th July 2015 at its campus in Kharghuli. Mr. Ranjit Borthakur, Chairman FICCI and Advisor to the Chief Minister of Assam was also present at the inaugural function. Prior to Inaugurating the New MBA Session 2015, Mr. Ramadorai visited the computer labs and the classroom of students undergoing skill training programme at the institute. Mr. Ramadorai in his inaugural address remarked that the present generation has ample opportunities in every sphere of life to excel themselves and they should make the best use of it. He emphasized the importance of skill development in all disciplines. “Make use of the opportunities that is being offered at this institute for the future is in your hand,” Mr. Ramadorai said. He advised the young students to undertake research in their respective area of specialization and make effective use of the available resources. Welcoming the Guests, Fr. Johnson Parackal, the Executive Director and the Rector of DBIM expressed his happiness at the presence of Mr. Ramadorai and Mr. Borthakur for the Inaugural Function of the New MBA Session 2015. The management students presented a freedom dance and a song. - Fr. Ignatius Gari
Heeding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call to hold digital India Week, Assam Don Bosco University (ADBU), though in summer vacation, organized a program at its constituent institution Don Bosco Institute of Management at Kharguli, Guwahati, 4th July. Some 200 students, besides MBA students, other groups of young people from northeast undergoing various computer courses participated at the hour-long program consisting of speeches and digital presentations.
Don Bosco Boko organises Scout Camp Don Bosco School, Boko organised a four-day interschool camp for scouts and guides from July 2-6, 2015, as part of the year-long celebrations for the bicentenary of the birth of Saint John Bosco. A total of 420 students belonging to 14 schools from Assam and Meghalaya participated in the camp. With the eco-friendly theme, â€œGrow Green and Keep Clean,â€? the camp began with a colourful inaugural programme. Fr. Johnson Parackal, SDB Executive Director, Don Bosco Institute (DBI), Kharghuli, Guwahati, while inaugurating the camp challenged the participants to make use of every opportunity offered to them in the camp to skill themselves in order to become useful and productive citizens of the country. Captain S. Varma from Army Unit, Boko, who graced the occasion as Guest of Honour, invited the young participants to consider the possibility of joining the defence forces as one of their viable career options in life. The camp, organised under the able supervision of Fr. Saju Kariyil, sdb, Headmaster, Don Bosco School, Boko and Fr. Vincent Xalxo, sdb, Rector, Don Bosco School, Boko, brought together under one umbrella a number of Scout Masters and Guide Captains from Assam and Meghalaya who stayed with the young participants in order to train the students in the different skills of Scouts and Guides.
NEWSLINE, GUWAHATI PROVINCE
The Army Unit from Boko played an active role in the camp by demonstrating the various procedures associated with pitching of tents and exhibiting the different tools that the army uses for its operations. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) from Guwahati familiarised the participants with the various forms of responses and skills that can be employed in saving human lives during moments of disasters of various types.
With meticulous planning and exact execution of various activities such as moments of prayer, games, campfires, hiking and classes, the camp was a roaring success. The camp ended on July 6 and the participants returned to their respective schools with much learning and deep nostalgic feelings of camaraderie and fellowship that they had experienced during the last four days.
Bicentenary Competition held at Boko Inter school painting, singing and speech competitions were held at Don Bosco School, Boko under the aegis of the school authorities as part of the concluding Bicentenary Birth celebration of Don Bosco on 14th August. The programme began with the lighting of the traditional lamp. The students, teachers and judges were welcomed by the Principal of the school, Fr. Shaju Kariyil. Later the participating teams presented excellent performances leaving the audience spell bound. As many as 15 schools took part in the various competitions. Circle Officer of Boko Mr. Siddharth Goswami was the Chief Guest at the inaugural programme. He encouraged the students to develop various talents that will help them in their future. Lieut. Colonel Dipankar Singh was the Guest of Honour at the programme. At the prize distribution ceremony Rev Fr. Vincent Xalxo, Rector of the centre was also present.
Peace Rally at Boko Eighteen schools of Boko region took part in the Peace Rally organized as part of the concluding Bicentenary Programme of Don Bosco School, Boko on 19th August. Mr. Thankeswar Rabha, Chief Executive Member of the Rabha Hasong Antonymous District Council, an alumnus was the Chief Guest for the occasion. He said that peace is the need of the hour and encouraged the students to be agents of peace in the world today. The students took active part in the rally displaying placards with messages of peace. - Fr. Saju Kariyil
Don Bosco Haflong celebrates DB's Birth
The following day saw the culmination of the festive mood that started on 16th August 2014. A model exhibition conducted at the School Auditorium was followed by cultural programme that defined the spirit of the Bosconians. Mr. Debojit Thaosen Chief Executive Member of Dima Hasao Autonomous Council, an alumnus of the School was the Chief Guest. While speaking at the occasion he said that he was fortunate to get the opportunity to study in the
school and he remembered fondly the love that he received from the teachers. â€œI wish all of you to give your best to your studies and apply what you learn in your practical life,â€? the CEM said. The staff and students of Don Bosco Schools Harangajao, Mahur, Asalu and Laisiong added life and colour to the celebration through their participation at the Don Bosco Exhibition. The programme was not only entertaining but was also a platform to showcase the talents of the Bosconians. Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Marngar SDB, The Principal in his address encouraged the students to take part in the various competitions as this will help them to understand better the spirit of Don Bosco, the father and friend of the youth. - Fr. Emmanuel Marngar
The Bicentenary Celebrations of the birth of St. John Bosco was celebrated with great joy by the staff and the students of Don Bosco Higher Secondary School, Haflong. The celebration kicked off with an enthusiastic rally on the 27th August with students holding colourful banners and shouting slogans 'Long Live Don Bosco'.
“IN COMMUNION WITH THE LORD” Maligaon Parish Day 2015 The Mary Help of Christians Parish, Maligaon celebrated its Parish Day on 6th September 2015 with great pomp and gaiety. The theme of this year's parish day was “In Communion with the Lord.” Guwahati Archbishop Most. Rev. John Moolachira DD, was warmly welcomed with the traditional Adivasi dance by the women's group of the parish. The Archbishop was the main celebrant at the Holy Mass. Fr. Benjamin Daimary SDB, the Parish Priest, on behalf of the Parish, welcomed the Archbishop and all the
faithful. After the Holy Mass the Rector Rev. Fr. Benny Alex, thanked the Archbishop for coming and celebrating the Holy Mass. The Archbishop in his sermon said that working together as a family is a must in order to grow, develop and reach out to the people. “Working together brings rapid growth, development and welfare of the people,” Archbishop John said. There were over 400 faithful to celebrate the joyful occasion. It was a meaningful and memorable day for the parish. - Fr. Benjamin Daimary
NEWSLINE, GUWAHATI PROVINCE
Bicentenary Painting Competition
To conclude the Bicentenary celebration of Don Bosco's birth, the students of Holy Family School, Rongjeng took part in the Don Bosco Painting competition held at the school campus on August 1. The Principal, Fr. Louis Bhengra said that such contests are an excellent way of expressing hidden wishes, desires and dreams in the form of art. It is also an opportunity for the students to come to know and love Don Bosco more and more. “Students proved that they not only excel in academics, but also shine in exhibiting their skills by their creative presentation.” Fr. Charles Sangma, the Rector while giving away the prizes said. - Fr. Louis Bhengra
Assam CM presented with Don Bosco Statue Guwahati Provincial Fr. V.M. Thomas and the Vice-Chancellor of Assam Don Bosco University, Fr. Stephen Mavelly met with the Chief Minister of Assam Shri Tarun Gogoi at his residence at Kainadhara Hillock, 23 July to invite him for the concluding ceremony of the birth Centenary of Don Bosco, 16 August. The Chief Minister was presented with the replica of the statue of Don Bosco by Fr. VM Thomas. The Chief Minister lauded the contributions of the Salesians of Don Bosco to the North East and in particular to Assam.
Disaster Management Training at Holy Family Rongjeng A day's training programme for students on Disaster Management was held at the school campus on August 6th. The programme was conducted by the State Disaster Management Cell of the Public Health Department in collaboration with the Williamnagar District Administration. The programme was part of a State Government initiative to make Meghalaya 'Disaster Resilient'. It was also organized to make students be prepared for any eventualities. The State Disaster Management Cell briefed the participants about the nature of different emergencies. Further, the participants were briefed on how to respond to fire accidents, mass casualty emergencies and earthquake. â€œGenerating awareness on disaster management among students right from their school days is important,â€? Fr. Charles Sangma, the Rector said while inaugurating the programme. He also said that natural calamities are unpredictable but response to it should be swift while the possibilities of man-made disasters should be identified beforehand and safety measures should be adopted.
- Fr. Mathias Marak
Remembering Fr. Anthony Thekkel (1966-2015)
r. Anthony Thekkel who passed away on the 18th June was buried in the Salesian cemetery at Manutty, Kerala. Rev Fr. Sebastian Thekkel, of the Kolkatta province the elder brother of Fr. Anthony celebrated the funeral Mass. Fr. VM Thomas and other confreres from the province were also present at the funeral Mass and the burial. His family members, friends and students attended the funeral. Below is the funeral oration of Fr. VM Thomas, the provincial. On 21st May 2015, Fr. Anthony Thekkel, a known case of stage 4 pulmonary sarcoidosis with end-stage lung disease, was admitted in the ICU at Rajagiri Hospital, Aluva, Kerala, with chronic respiratory failure. He was stabilised with antibiotics, systemic steroids and other supportive medicine. He was discharged on 28th May but had to continue on oxygen support and extreme care. Fr. Thekkel had to be rushed again to the hospital on 10th June. On 18th morning, Fr. Francis, Rector of Don Bosco Aluva anointed Fr. Thekkel and had to be rushed again to Rajagiri hospital in the afternoon where he passed away at 4.20 pm.
NEWSLINE, GUWAHATI PROVINCE
Fr. Anthony Thekkel was born on 18th August 1966 to Thomas Thekkel and Eliamma Thomas at Meenkuzhy in the diocese of Kanjirappally, Kerala. Following the example of his elder brother, Fr. Sebastian Thekkel of the Salesian Province of Kolkata and answering the call of the Lord Jesus, to follow him for closely in the Salesian religious life, Anthony joined Savio Juniorate, Shillong in 1985 to begin his seminary formation. He did his novitiate at Sunnyside, Shillong and made his profession on 1st April 1989. His perpetual profession was at Shillong on 24th May 1995. After four years of theological studies at Sacred Heart College, Shillong, he was ordained a priest on 7th January, 1999 at his home parish of Meenkuzhy.
His first assignment as a new priest was as the assistant parish priest of Amkachi, in the Karbi Anglong district of Assam, a ministry that he carried out with commitment for three years. In January 2002, he became the headmaster of Don Bosco School, Tangla for one year. His next appointment was as headmaster and administrator of Don Bosco, Seling, Mizoram. In fact, Mizoram became the field
of ministry of Fr. Anthony for the next six and a half years, in various capacities such as Assistant Parish Priest, Headmaster, and Rector at Don Bosco, Lawngtlai. Once again he found himself in the plains of Assam in 2010, as Rector and principal of Don Bosco Higher Secondary School, Kokrajhar. Here he first experienced problems affecting his lungs. Consequently, on 13th November 2011, Fr. Thekkel was appointed to Don Bosco School Community, Guwahati, as Rector and on May 31, 2012, as Principal of the School. It was felt that a change of air and closeness to the hospitals in the city of Guwahati might help him in dealing with his sickness. However, by this time, Fr. Anthony was already experiencing the debilitating effects associated with the sickness - pulmonary sarcoidosis â€“ to which he had fallen victim. Consequently, he was relieved of his heavy responsibilities at Don Bosco, Guwahati, though he continued to be a member of the community, serving the school as the counsellor. In November 2013, he fell seriously ill and was taken to Mumbai for treatment and later on to Vellore for further investigations and treatment. On his return, he continued to serve in the Don Bosco School community and visit the Mumbai Hospital periodically. However, from June 2014, Fr. Thekkel shifted to Provincial House, Guwahati, for rest and treatment. He used go to Fortis Hospital, Kolkata, for treatment and regular check-up. On 20th November, 2014 he was admitted to St. John's Hospital, Guwahati, for a day. At the advice of his doctor in Kolkota, I shifted him the next day itself to Fortis Hospital, Kolkotta. I accompanied him and met the doctor personally and the doctors were able to check the infection of his lungs but told me of the
critical condition which would continue. He recovered slightly and hence was able to go home towards the end of November 2014 to be with his dear ones till the end of February, 2015. In March this year, in understanding with Fr. Joyce, the Salesian Provincial of Bangalore Province, I made all the necessary arrangements for him to stay at the Salesian Philosophate, Aluva, for rest and further treatment. He liked the arrangements and was happy to be in the midst of Salesians and friends in Aluva. He was also happy that his family members could visit him at Aluva from time to time. The confreres of Aluva took extraordinary care of him during his last days. When I visited Fr. Thekkel at Aluva on 5th and 6th June, I found him very serene and calm. We shared many memories together. I celebrated the Holy Eucharist with him and prayed for him. On 18th June, 2015, just before noon he was taken to Rajgiri Hospital at Aluva, where he passed away in peace at 4.20 pm and made his final journey towards heaven. - Fr. V M Thomas, Provincial
Fr V. M. Thomas Inaugurates
New Computer Lab at Bongaigaon
Fr. V.M. Thomas expressed his heartfelt joy of seeing the children and the youths present at the centre. The youths are attending Spoken English course and evening tuitions at the centre. The children were delighted to see and hear Fr. V.M. Thomas speak. He spoke to them about the importance of learning English and the need to work hard. He challenged them to think big and think smart.
Fr. V.M Thomas inaugurated the computer lab at the centre. There are 22 computers specifically meant for computer skills training. He too, unveiled the Bicentenary Tribute to Don Bosco at the centre. It was one of the occasions for the youths to know the person of Don Bosco and his work for the youth. - Bro. Edward Kujur
Fr. V.M. Thomas, Provincial of Guwahati Province and Fr. Zachery, Provincial's secretary visited Don Bosco Centre, Bongaigaon on 30th August. An august gathering of boys and girls, youths and parents welcomed them with songs, shouts and cheers. There were as many as 70 children and youth present to welcome Fr. V.M Thomas.
A loving, humble and cheerful Salesian priest goes HOME!
NEWSLINE, GUWAHATI PROVINCE
ithin the course of the past 12 months, the Lord has called to himself five Salesians from the province of Guwahati, of whom only one was in his ripe old age. The other four were in the best years of their life, but a prey to terminal illness. Fr. Rajendra Joseph Ekka, passed away peacefully, but most unexpectedly on 26th July 2015 at 11.45 a.m. had been pronounced as having terminal cancer of the jaws, but there were no indications that the end would be so near. The Lord has laid on the province the cross of the passing away of these five Salesians, but the fortitude, the serenity and faith of these departed confreres also enables us to carry this cross, and we repeat with Job. â€œThe Lord has given; the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lordâ€?. (Job 1:21)
Fr. Rajendra Ekka was born of Francis Ekka and Marcellina Tigga on 30th May 1971 at Buchchi, Shilla, in the diocese of Hazaribagh, Jharkhand. Both of his parents are no more, and the only other member of his family is his elder sister, with whose family he spent the last month of his life, after the doctor had pronounced that his cancer was terminal. He did his aspirantate at Savio Juniorate, Shillong, his prenovitiate at Rongkhon, Tura, and after a year of novitiate at Sunnyside, Shillong, he made his first profession there on 1st April 1993. After three years of philosophy and degree studies at Salesian College, Dimapur, he did his practical training at Barpeta
Road for nearly two years; the next year was spent at STC, Shillong, for his B.Ed studies, and then four years of theology at Sacred Heart Theological College, Mawlai, Shillong. He was ordained a priest on 28th December 2002 in his native diocese of Hazaribagh. His first priestly ministry was as the counsellor of studies, Savio Juniorate, Shillong, for two years; he was then appointed as the assistant parish priest of Doomni in January 2004. He became the parish priest of Doomni in April 2006. After these three years of priestly ministry at Doomni, he was appointed as the Vice-Rector and Assistant Parish priest at Tangla from June 2007 to February 2009. He was then asked to do LLB, and consequently found himself at the Don Bosco Centre, Tezpur, as its assistant director and LLB student, and during his second year of LLB he was appointed as the director of the same institute. On completion of his LLB in 2011, he was back at Tangla as assistant parish priest, since that would enable him to be of assistance to the people, especially in all that was connected with legal affairs. He joined the Provincial House Community, Guwahati, in July 2014, in order to do his internship at the Legal Cell for Human Rights with Fr. Ravisagar S.J in Guwahati for a few months in view of his future assignment at Don Bosco Social Institute, Tezpur. He carried out this assignment faithfully for nearly two months.
In the last week of August 2014, he went for a checkâ€“up at St. John's Hospital, Guwahati, since he had developed a swelling on his cheek. They referred him to the Tata Medical Centre at Kolkata where he was diagnosed with cancer. His sickness began as lymphoma in the lower left jaw and he went through a 15 hour operation on 9th September that left his face disfigured, that left him unable to talk, or take food orally for months and he was put on chemotherapy and radiation with its devastating effects on his body. Fr. Thomas Lakra, the Vice Provincial, stayed with him in the hospital and later took him to the Salesian Provincial House, Kolkata. Later on Fr. Ajay Xaxa went to Kolkata for more than a month to assist Fr. Rajendra at Provincial House Kolkata. On 19th October 2014, Fr. Albinus Dhanwar substituted Fr. Ajay in looking after Fr. Rajendra in Kolkata and brought him back to Provincial House, Guwahati, on 10th December 2014, for medication and rest. He seemed to show some signs of improvement. In fact, in February 2015, he went back
to Kolkata for plastic surgery to be performed on his cheek. Contrary to all expectations, the doctors discovered cancer appearing below the right jaw. Before they could fix a date for operation it began to grow uncontrollably; radiation and chemo had to be stopped. In the middle of June 2015, the doctors informed me that Fr. Rajendra's case was terminal and that nothing more could be done medically. In fact, they suggested that he be taken for palliative care. So arrangements were made to bring him back to Guwahati on 21st June 2015. Since Fr. Rajendra expressed his desire to go and stay with his elder sister and brother-in-law for a few days, before he returned to Guwahati, he was taken to the house of his sister in Jharkand. Bro. Hopna Tudu and Bro. John Paul stayed with Fr. Rajendra; Bro. Nilam Roshan Kujur substituted them both about a week ago. During his stay at home, he underwent some herbal treatment which gave him a lot of relief. However, he passed away peacefully on 26th July at 11.45 am. - Fr. V M Thomas, Provincial
The new academic session of Don Bosco Junior College, Diphu started on 18 August, 2015 with 197 students. Rt. Rev Bishop Paul Mattekatt, Bishop of Diphu, invoked God's blessings upon the dream project. Fr. V.M Thomas, SDB, the Salesian Provincial dedicated it to the deprived youth of the region. He expressed great joy to see that things were moving fast and stated that every effort would be made to Don Bosco Junior College, Diphu to complete the building soon. Don Bosco Junior College, was functioning at Manja for one year on a temporary basis. Fr. Cyriac Vettikathadam SDB, the Director of Don Bosco Junior College, welcomed and thanked everyone for their encouraging presence. - Fr. Jimmy Sangma
New Academic Session of Don Bosco College, Diphu
Fr. Bivan Rodriques Mukhim
The Shillong Times Vol No: LVIII No.I
his year dedicated to consecrated life draws our attention to men and women religious, whose very call it is to be a sign of unity, joy and hope in the midst of a world, torn by darkness and division, to be a sign of the kingdom of God which begins here and now. Pope Francis is calling the religious to 'wake up the world' and share the power of the Gospel through the witness theirconsecrated lives. Our mission today is to extend Christ's compassion to those in need wherever they are, just as it was when Don Bosco started his works for the poor youths of Turin. Consecrated life, in today's context, is called to become a fire that “lights up the heart” (Benedict XVI) and in turn ignites other fires. Religious are called to a deeper evangelical radicalness, a personal intimacy with the Lord in prayer, and an unconditional dedication proper to each charism to serve in missions our brothers and sisters.
NEWSLINE, GUWAHATI PROVINCE
A vocation to the consecrated life brings with it immeasurable gifts, most importantly a deeper encounter with Christ. The person called to this way of life professes vows that express a fervent love for the Lord. To unite themselves more closely to Jesus – who was poor, chaste, and obedient to his heavenly Father – consecrated men and women commit to live in the way that he did, in poverty, chastity, and obedience. Although these can be difficult renunciations by the standards of today's culture, such detachment of the worldly way of life results in a far greater gain – Christ himself! Those in whom God's grace stirs a hunger for this more radical life share with Christ a willingness to give up much that the world offers so that they might love and serve God in a richer freedom.
For the Church and consecrated life the invitation is launched to gather the positive elements of the postmodern for the new evangelization and for a new understanding of the values of Christian life. For a Christian, the way of living human values ought to be positive and attractive, since the Gospel is always humanizing and not mortifying. The challenge between a holy life and a happy life is offered to all, but especially to consecrated religious, imposing upon them a courageous, theoretical and practical re-reading of the way of understanding sacrifice, renunciation and fulfillment. All feel the need to see people satisfied/happy doing what they chose to do, also in their personal vocation, and not men and women sacrificed to ideals greater than self, unable to love themselves and therefore to truly love God and others. Let us thank God for the great gift of consecrated life, which has always been “at the very heart of the Church as a decisive element for her mission. . . . It is a precious and necessary gift for the present and future of the People of God”
SHILLONG, MONDAY, AUGUST 10, 2015
Bigotry on the rise The Salesians of Don Bosco, a congregation that is modelled around the life and ideals of St John Bosco, known as a friend and educator of youth, are celebrating his bicentenary this year. Don Bosco institutions are spread out in 132 countries and reaching roughly 15 million people. Although Don Bosco was a Catholic priest, the schools, colleges, universities and vocational institutions that are built in his name are known to accommodate students of diverse religion, nationalities, caste and community. The Salesian congregation of Guwahati wanted to install a statue of Don Bosco at Bhalamukh on August 7. The statue was to be unveiled by Assam Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi. But in the early morning hours of August 7, a section of rightist bigots who claim that Don Bosco is an Italian missionary and has not contributed anything to the cultural growth of Assam and hence does not deserve a statue in the city, vandalised and defaced it and pushed it into the river. This action is a body blow to the much touted secularism – a principle that is fundamental to the idea of being Indian. Without the secular ethos the Indian polity will be fragmented even while religious differences will polarise communities and make them vulnerable to communal conflicts. The arrest of a BJP woman councillor and her husband and also members of the Cotton College Students’ Union on the issue of defacement of the Don Bosco statue only goes to show that the ugly face of fascist politics has entered Assam and the North East. It will not be long before the communal violence fuelled by political ideologies is unleashed in Assam and the region. The perpetrators of this act of vengeance may be a small number but they have supporters who are equally rabid and fascist in their views over social media. Such dogmatists have openly supported the idea that only the statues of Assamese freedom fighters and heroes should be put up in any part of Assam. Such cultural chauvinism does not bode well for Assam and for this country. Don Bosco is above all religions. He stands out as an educator whose ideals have spread far and wide. If people cannot accept this fact it is not Don Bosco who is belittled but those whose minds refuse to transcend parochial mindsets.
Silver Jubilee of Profession of Fr. Joseph Teron at Bosco Reach Out
DonBoscoProvincialHouse Panbazar, Guwahati - 781001, Assam, India Tel: 0361 - 2510458 n www.donboscoguwahati.org Chief Editor : Fr. Bivan R. Mukhim n Associate Editor : Fr. Zacharias Varickasseril n DTP : DBI, Guwahati Email: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org