Matters India reporter
Shillong, September 13, 2019 : A group of Salesian family members working in India and Sri Lanka are spending about a month reflecting on their life and mission living the charism of their founder and inspiration St John Bosco in the cradle of Salesian Missions in northeast India.
The 6th South Asia Missionary Course started on 31st August at Mathias Institute Mawlai, Shillong with 28 participants from 11 Salesian provinces of India and the vice province of Sri Lanka.
The Theology Institute for the Master of Theology students is named after the leader of the first batch of Salesian Missionaries – Archbishop Louis Mathias – who arrived in Shillong on 22 January 1922.
Among the participants are 18 priests, one religious brother and 9 religious sisters including Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA) and Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians (MSMHC).
“The FMAs and the MSMHSC sisters are part of the Salesian family and are very enthusiastic as partners in the mission of proclamation of the Gospel,” says course director and Delegate for Mission, Salesian Provincial Conference of South Asia, Salesian Fr Francis T.J.
A polyglot who made significant contribution to the development of tribal languages in Manipur and Arunachal Fr. Francis says, “The inter-regional ongoing formation course for missionaries offers an experience of reflection and renewal in Salesian missionary vocation of the participants.”
Among 30 odd original publications of Fr Francis in tribal dialects include several grammar books in Wancho and Rongmei (both first ever) and an Anglo-Rongmei-Rongmei-Anglo Dictionary, also a first ever.
Kerala born Fr Francis also has translated parts of the Bible in Rongmei, (OT) Wancho NT and Nyishi and written over 200 hymns in these languages and a prayer book and a hymn book in Adi (Teyong ke Bedang).
The course co-ordinator at Shillong Fr. Thomas Pampady Sdb says, “This Ongoing Formation Course is a program of renewal for a Salesian priest, brother or sister, who has been engaged in the Salesian mission for more than ten years.”
Explaining further Fr Pampady says, “It is through prayer and listening to the Spirit, witness of life, sharing of experiences, personal reflections and through a joyful life with other participants in the course he/she is helped in verifying, deepening and sometimes even re-discovering and re-designing the fundamental reasons for his/her being in the mission.”
A participant at the course, parish priest of St Theresa parish Sonada, Darjeeling says, “the sharing of the Word of God and the preparation of daily journal helps us to re-read one’s personal experiences in the light of the topics of the day.”
The course has a modular approach and workshop method consisting of four components: pastoral experience, listening to and evaluation of the input, personal reflection and sharing; and formulation of one’s own understanding on the topic.
Fr Allwyn Misquitta from Maharashtra adds, “The course is intended primarily to be a formation (foster and renew values and attitudes necessary for a missionary Salesian) and not just information (acquisition of new knowledge or ideas).
A popular preacher Fr Misquitta says, “other activities such as exposure visits, inter-cultural exchange among the participants, interaction with those under missionary formation form part and parcel of the program.”
The program facilitated by a host of experts is expected to conclude in Shillong on 21st September and continue as the group goes on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and end on the 3rd of October.