Salesians study nation building to mark northeast centenary

Matters India reporter

Dimapur, March 3, 2019: A group of religious working among young people in 27 states of India studied their role in nation building as part of commemorating the 100th year of their presence in the Northeast.

“Salesians towards Nation Building” was the theme of their national assembly at Dimapur, the commercial capital of Nagaland state.

A band of 12 Salesians of Don Bosco arrived at Shillong, present capital of Meghalaya state, January 13, 1922. The region now has three Salesian provinces –Guwahati, Dimapur and Shillong.

The 20th Salesian Provincials Conference of South Asia Assembly was held on February 27-28 at Don Bosco Institute of Development and Leadership.

12 provincials , assembly secretary, delegates from the provinces and Don Bosco Networks attended the assembly.

Regional Councilor for South Asia, Father Maria Arokiam Kanaga celebrated Mass and then officially inaugurated the three year preparation for the centenary of the Salesian Missions in Northeast India to be celebrated in 2022.

Salesian Mission Superior from Rome Father Guillermo Basanes hoisted the Centenary Flag and the SPCSA members studied and reflected on the theme Salesians towards Nation Building”.

Rector of Don Bosco College, Itanagar, Father Jose Chemparathy, the overseer of the Centenary Celebrations in 2022, highlighted the importance of the preparatory years and listed the three themes that will form part of the activities for each year – Imparting Gospel Values and Catechesis (2019); Youth Ministry (2020), and Salesian Spirituality (2021).

Dimapur provincial Father Jose Kuruvachira, in his welcome address, spoke about the brief history of the Salesian Province of Dimapur, which came into being in 1982 and comprises of the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Upper Assam, Manipur and Nagaland.

Father Kanaga, before launching the Preparatory Years, praised “the zeal and the hard work of the pioneering Salesians and their successors who have toiled hard in the vineyard of the Lord which gave birth to three Salesian Provinces in Northeast India: Guwahati, Dimapur and Shillong.”

The assembly began with a keynote address by Salesian Father Polycarp Xalxo from the Don Bosco College, Golaghat, Assam. He presented a research paper on the topic – Nation Building in the Constitutional Way: What type of Salesians do we need today?

Presenting the precarious scenario of the Indian politics, Father Xalxo affirmed “the study of Indian constitution is very relevant today as it gives legitimacy and the right to liberty, justice, equality and fraternity. The Constitution is a reasoned and deliberated text which safe guards citizens of our country.”

He dwelt on the topics of Nationalism, Indian Nationalism and Constitution of India with focus on ‘What type of Salesian we need today for nation building in the Constitutional Way?’

“The Salesian as an educator of the young,” Father Xalxo said, “needs to be a prophet of secularism, democracy and fundamental rights. The type of formation he gives to the young should be an antidote to communalism, politicization of religion and violence. As an educator the Salesian should be someone who is engaged in tackling India’s widespread illiteracy, the phenomenon of boys and girls dropping out of school, caste discrimination, and uneven economic development by industrialist.”

“A Salesian should live by the values he believes in.”

Each province delegate and the Don Bosco Youth Animation Center (DBYAC) New Delhi presented the strategies implemented on the theme given by the SPCSA ”Nation Building in the Constitutional Way” in their various provinces.”

“It was great to see the synergy among the Don Bosco Institutions which organised quizzes, seminars, completions, training programmes, and poster captions,” said director of DBYAC Dr Maria Charles.

The delegates from 12 Don Bosco Networks explained their Innovative Approaches and Challenges in their respective areas of work for marginalised youth and underprivileged people.

Mumbai Salesian Father (Dr.) Barnabee D’Souza Coordinator of the newly started Salesian Facilitation Office (SFO) helped synergies the meta data and give a strategic perspective to the region’s thrust and core area competencies and create impact analysis for better decision making process by the Salesians Provincials for their region. He also gave a brief concept paper on the strategy to converge our various works in the South Asian Region through research and development.

Father Kanaga launched a series of new booklets published by Dr. Maria Charles dealing with topics such as Nation Building viz a vis Good Governance for Progress of the Nation; Social Justice for Human Development and Peace; Duties for Healthy Democracy; My Country is My Family; Building a Truly Secular Nation; Right to Freedom of Speech; and a Quiz booklet on Indian Constitution.

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