Mumbai: Cardinal Oswald Gracias helped mark the diamond jubilee of the Shrine of Our Lady Help of Christians in Mumbai on November 12, taking the occasion to urge the faithful to pray the rosary.
“It is essential that we pray together as a family, pray the rosary in the family. We are a Christian family and every family must become Christ-like,” the cardinal said.
The church was built in the city’s Matunga neighborhood in 1957 by Italian Salesian Father Aurelius Maschio, who modelled it on the famous church in Turin bearing the same title.
The Salesians already operated Don Bosco High School in the same neighborhood, which opened in 1942.
Spanish Father Ángel Fernández Artime, the Rector Major of the Salesian Congregation, was in Mumbai for the anniversary of both institutions.
The Salesians of Don Bosco – officially the Society of St. Francis de Sales – was founded by St. John Bosco in 1859 to help those children struggling in poverty.
Artime told Crux the order is still dedicated to educating and helping young people, in India and around the world.
“Don Bosco worked for the deprived sections of the youth, how is the Salesian congregation continuing the Mission of Don Bosco in the world today,” the priest said.
He also said the Salesians are preparing for the Synod of Bishops meeting on youth called by Pope Francis for 2018.
“For us Salesians, this Synod is a great gift of God through Pope Francis. In the 132 countries in which we Salesians are present, we are getting the youth ready for participation and contribution to the Synod,” Artime said.
“Firstly, by collecting the opinions and reflections of the youth; and secondly, this research is being offered to the episcopal conferences of each country, because it is ultimately the episcopal conferences which will carry the results of the survey to the synod,” he said.
“Thirdly, more importantly, through the survey, we ourselves are getting to know and understand the hearts of the young people, interact and take part in the preparation … and this will help us, in our own mission and vocation to serve the young people.”
Artime also spoke to Crux about Salesian Father Tom Uzhunnalil, the Indian priest who spent 18 months in captivity in Yemen, after he was kidnapped during an attack by unknown gunmen in March 2016. The attack left 16 dead, including four nuns belonging to the Missionaries of Charity, the order founded by Mother Teresa.
Uzhunnalil was released into the custody of the Sultanate of Oman on September 12, 2017, and spent several days at the Salesian headquarters in Rome recuperating before returning to his home in India.
“The Liberation of Father Uzhunnalil was a great joy for all of us. For 18 months we were praying for his release. Father Tom has revealed deep sentiments of profound faith and peace,” Artime said.
“After his liberation, we held a press conference in Rome for around 78 journalists, and the serenity and peace of Father Tom was a moving experience for everyone,” he said.
Artime said without doubt the missionary example of Uzhunnalil is an inspiration to every Salesian, not just in India, but around the world.
“The missionary strength continues, and just recently we sent 142 expedition Salesian missionaries to the rest of the world,” he said.