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Salesians await visit of Don Bosco’s successor

The Salesian family of Don Bosco is anticipating the visit of the Rector Major of Don Bosco, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, who will be visiting the province of Panaji for the first time from March 27 to April 1.

The Salesian family includes four groups started by Don Bosco himself – the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB), Salesian Sisters (FMA), Salesian Cooperators and, the Association of Mary Help of Christians (ADMA). Don Bosco Past Pupils, Catechist Sisters of Mary Immaculate Help of Christians (SMI), and The Disciples (Don Bosco Secular Institute) were added later to the province of Panaji. The province extends across the Konkan region from Ratnagiri to Mangalore, and includes four districts of Maharashtra, the entire state of Goa, and eight districts in Karnataka.

Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, the 10th successor of Don Bosco, was elected in the 27th General Council of the Salesians in Rome in 2014. A Spaniard, he was previously the provincial of Leon in Spain (2000-2006), provincial of South Argentina (2009-2014), and provincial of Seville, Spain in 2014, before he was elected the General Superior (Rector Major) of the Salesian Congregation that year. He is the head of all the Salesian institutes (15,000) of the Salesians of Don Bosco that are present in 132 countries.

Rector, Fr Avin Carvalho who has been appointed as the chief organiser of the visit says that he is happy to have the successor of Don Bosco in the province. He wishes that ‘his spirit rubs onto each one of us’. Provincial of Panaji province, Fr Felix Fernandes echoes the same opinion. “This will be his very first meet to our province It is a moment of grace and the revival of the Salesian charism in our province. We are expecting a renewal in the Salesians’ way of life,” he says.

His visit will include meetings with students and teachers, parents of Salesians, rectors and in-charges and the Archbishop of Goa and Daman Filipe Neri Ferrao, and Bishop of Sindhudurg, Alwyn Barreto. Youth from the parishes and the Salesian colleges of Maharashtra, Goa, and Karnataka will get a chance to interact with him. He will also be present for the Youth Fest at Don Bosco College of Engineering, Fatorda on March 30. During his visit, Fr Ralin De Souza will be the official translator of the rector major.

The Salesians came to India in 1906 and started their first institution at Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu. The first institution in Goa was opened in Panaji in 1946 by Fr Vincent Scuderi and Fr Joseph Carreno. They first started the Oratory of Don Bosco where the youth could play and pray. Soon the Carpentry was added. The primary school, tailoring classes, an English medium school with 36 students and four classes of the Portuguese school were the humble beginnings of the work of Don Bosco in Goa. With their printing press, the Salesians published the monthly magazine, ‘Oratorio Salesiano’ and the ‘Aitarachem Vachop’, a Konkani weekly. Fr Mc Glinchey aired a religious programme ‘Hora Catolica’ on All India Radio.

Today, the Salesians have 10 houses in Goa including three in Sindhudurg and six in Karnataka. Educating youth towards a better future and proclaiming the values of Jesus to all, have been their priority. In Goa, the Salesians have nine schools, three higher secondary schools, three National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), a night school, a vocational training institute, a technical school and a public library. They have also forayed into higher education with Don Bosco College, Panaji, College of Engineering at Fatorda, and College of Agriculture at Sulcorna.

Salesians look after the street boys, the youth at risk at Paliem-Ucassaim, have boardings for children, and a men’s hostel. They empower women through self help groups and various developmental works through Konkan Development Office at Odxel.

Fr Fernandez will put in many hours of his stay for serious reflection and evaluation of the various activities of Don Bosco in the province. “For us it is a moment of celebration around the successor of Don Bosco. He has called each of us to be holy,” says Fr Avin.

On March 30, Fr Fernandez will concelebrate the Saturday mass at 6 p.m. at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Panaji, together with the Archbishop of Goa and Daman Filipe Neri Ferrao, and Bishop of Sindhudurg, Alwyn Barreto.

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