In a simple yet touching ceremony of Prayer and reflection, two youngsters were initiated to the VDB movement by Fr. Michael Fernandes, Provincial on May 30, 2009. Also present for the ceremony was Fr Wilfred D’souza. It was truly a historic day for the VDB Presence in Mumbai. Through a power point presentation Fr. Michael explained their identity, secularity, consecration and Saleisianity. There are so many ways of being “Salesian”, myriad ways of being inspired by the example of Don Bosco. We see how two people are looking for an alternative way of following a “vocation”. The words used can be confusing.
A “Volunteer of Don Bosco” (VDB) is a permanent commitment not to be confused with the many young people who generously work as Salesian volunteers before they begin their careers in life. The Volunteers of Don Bosco is a Secular Institute for women. It was founded in Turin in 1917 by the young women who attended the Salesian Sisters Oratory at Valdocco. Today, there are approximately 1,500 women who are members of the Volunteers of Don Bosco. In India we have only 9 VDB’s. They live the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, but, unlike members of a religious institute, live out their consecration in the world. They do not live in a community and do not wear any indentifying clothing or insignia. They live out their Salesian vocation within the context of daily life and undertake professional activities according to their interests, abilities and training. It is their vocation and mission to bring the message of Jesus to whatever work or life context they encounter. They work in offices, factories, schools, hospitals and many other work places.
MUMBAI, JULY 21, 2009: The Annual General Meeting of the Mumbai Provincial Federation of Don Bosco Past Pupils was held at Audio Visual Hall of the Provincial House on July 19, 2009, at 6.30 pm. The meeting began with a prayer service conducted by Don Bosco – Kurla Unit, comprising of a bhajan, the past pupils prayer and a soothing audio visual song- Make us an instrument of peace.
Thereafter the Chief Guest, Vice Provincial - Rev Fr. Ajoy Fernandes, Past Pupils Provincial Delegate- Fr. Elias Dias, Fr. Wilfred D’souza and Sr. Santanna were welcomed with floral tributes.
The secretary of the Mumbai Provincial Federation, Mr. Kailash Parekh read the annual report which spelt out the various activities undertaken by the Mumbai Federation during the period April 2008- July 2009. The Annual reports of each unit were read by the individual unit secretaries in detail.
Sister Santanna in her address informed the members that this year was dedicated to the Salesian Family. Requesting the past pupils to spread the Salesian ways of Cheerfulness and Honesty, she called for a closer working environment between the SDB and the FMA past pupils, where common activities could be undertaken. She thanked the Past pupils for inviting the FMA for the AGM and in turn invited the past pupils for THE FMA’s AGM to be held at Panjim- Goa on August 31, 2009. The Treasurer, Mr. Joseph, read the statement of accounts of Mumbai Provincial Federation for the period of April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009. The Chief Guest Rev Fr. Ajoy commended the past pupils for the various activities undertaken by them. He summarized the contents of the reports of the various units as under:
a) The past pupils reflected tremendous love for Don Bosco.
b) A systematic connection of the association from unit, to province, to national to international levels.
c) The feeling of joy to be with each other.
d) Believing in the growth of individuals and the unit through retreats, recollections and leadership camps.
e) Out reach programmes organized within the school and the world outside.
f) Different levels in the units, the seniors, the juniors and the fresher have yet to be connected.
g) Organizing capabilities of the various units, be it sports or academic competitions.
The Provincial delegate, Fr. Elias Dias in his concluding address informed the members of the forth coming events to be undertaken by the Provincial Federation and requested a healthy participation from all the units. He praised the past pupils for the activities undertaken but also mentioned that the work done was going unnoticed. He therefore requested all the units to put up their activities on BIS or SALFAM. This would in turn help to enlighten many people who are not aware of the past pupils movement and their involvement in promoting the Salesian spirit. Fr. Elias also brought out the issue of publishing a directory of the past pupils in the SALFAM issue of January. He thanked the president Mr. Ketan Gala for his support in rejuvenating the federation. He also appreciated the work done by Mr. Joseph, who worked behind the scenes as the treasurer. He also thanked Mr. Amar and Mr. Dilip Bhatt for their contribution for a smooth running at the province level.
Finally the president concluded the meeting by proposing the Vote of Thanks. Mr. Ketan extended his sincere gratitude to the Vice Provincial, the Provincial Delegate Fr. Elias, Fr. Wilfred, Sr. Santanna , all the office bearers and all the members especially to the two members from Nashik who were present for the AGM. The meeting saw an attendance of 43 members. All the members departed after a sumptuous dinner.
When Don Bosco was just a mere lad he was shown in a prophetic dream what his life’s mission would be. A ‘beautiful woman bedecked with stars’ put her hand on his shoulder and stretching out the other said, “Look, this is your field of work”. It was a huge ‘field of work’ and right from the beginning Don Bosco understood that it was not a task he would be able to fulfill alone – the task of turning street urchins into good citizens.
Don Bosco was ordained a priest on June 5, 1841, and in the same year on December 8, he began his work. As years rolled by, thousands of boys flocked to him. To take care of them he looked for helpers and collaborators. He gathered all types of people: rich and poor, young and old, married and unmarried, interns and externs. He called them Salesians. In 1859, he founded the Salesian Congregation to look after these poor boys. In 1874, the Constitution of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians was approved and they worked for the girls under the leadership of Mary Domenica Mazarello. In 1876, he set up a pious union of Salesian Co-operators, a lay association to collaborate with him in his mission. Thus we see in the life of Don Bosco that he gathered religious men, women and lay people to fulfill his mission.
Today Salesian Family refers to an assembly of groups, institutes and association that share Don Boscos charism, spirituality and mission towards the young. These units were either founded directly by Don Bosco or developed after his death by his followers. These groups strive to better the social world like Don Bosco who was concerned with the temporal and spiritual salvation of the youth and the working classes. These groups are means to fulfill the mission of Don Bosco. Today there are 27 groups the world over under the umbrella of the Salesian Family.
In the past we worked separately for the Cooperators and the past pupils except on the occasion of the Salesian Family day. On this day we have Holy Eucharist, variety entertainment and fellowship dinner in common.
The Co-operators have their AGM, pilgrimage at Mount Mary, Bandra in the month of September, annual retreat, outreach programs to any destitute home and Lenten recollection in the month of April. During summer vacation sometimes picnics are organized. This April they attended the South Asian Congress of the Salesian Co-operators in Chennai.
The Provincial Federation of the Past Pupils of Don Bosco had an animation programme at a provincial level. They had their AGM during which elections were held. A leadership seminar organized by them at Kurla and ‘A day with God’ held at Andheri on March 22, 2009. In the month of December, 2008 the past pupils attended 9th Asia-Australia Congress held in Philippines.
This year being the year of the Salesian Family the Salesian Commission is at its large. It has got 11 members representing all the branches working in the province of Mumbai. Special Salesian Family meeting held on March 15, 2009 decided to have some common venture for the Salesian Family. They decided to have two days seminar on identity and common mission on Salesian Family on July 4 and 5 in 2009 and repeat it again in the month of November for the benefit of others who did not take part in the first meet. Aug 9 is scheduled as a picnic day for the entire Salesian Family. It will be organized by the past pupils. The month of September, recollection cum walking pilgrimage of all Salesian familia will be held in Bandra. On December 18 the whole Salesian Family of Mumbai province will renew their vows or promises. On January 17, 2010 the Salesian Family day will be celebrated at Kurla. Besides all these programs each branch will have their own programs at their own centers.
Today the Salesian Family is considered a vast movement that works with Don Bosco in his mission. It must grow numerically and spiritually. It must grow numerically because of the vast field of apostolate in need of collaborators. It must grow spiritually because Don Bosco has started his family for the salvation of souls. No one can give unless one has it. The members of the family should have spiritual life in order to spiritualize the world. Therefore, the spiritual programs and animation programs are very necessary in the Salesian Family. We must make an effort to grow – to revive the dormant units and start new units in all our institutions. Each branch of the Salesian Family has a responsibility to help the others to increase and grow. We have to increase the number of the Cooperators, past pupils, volunteers of Don Bosco and start a new branch of Salesian Family ADMA- devout clients for Mary Help of Christians. It is a branch which Don Bosco himself started at the completion of his Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Turin in 1868. We have ample opportunities and facilities to launch this project in our province. What we need is a bit of good will and enthusiasm in the movement.
The Salesian Family is a vibrant reality. To keep it alive we the Salesian Family has to change our mentality. We need to shift our emphasis for excessive autonomy to synergy of a vast movement of persons. We need to underline not the autonomy of the individual groups but the synergy of the whole family. We have to stress on the culture of communion rather than individualism. This change of mentality must start with Salesians.
NASHIK, JULY 16, 2009: The Past Pupils of Don Bosco, Nashik under the guidance of Rev. Fr. Diego Nunes organized an inter house GK quiz on July 8, 2009. Consisting of two groups namely std V – VII and Std VIII – X, the quiz in all had nine rounds on the fields of Literature, Sports, Politics, History, Bollywood, Mathematics, Spellings etc., ensuring all round knowledge of the young participants. In the junior section, Savio House won the quiz and the in senior section it was the Bosco House which took the honors. The chief guest Mr. Ketan Gala, Provincial President of Don Bosco Alumni in his address said education is imparted not only in classrooms but also by such activities. He congratulated the Past Pupils and the Principal Fr. Diego Nunes for organizing this programme and reviving the Past Pupils Unit. The guest of honor Mr. Remeth Fernandes, President of the Andheri Unit also commended the efforts of the Past Pupils. The prizes were given by the Rector Fr. Ivo Coelho. The event was followed by a meeting of the Past Pupils and the Provincial President , wherein they were guided as how to become life members of the federation and how to ensure further growth of their Unit.