Monday, 11 November 2013

Missionary Week at Divyadaan, Nashik

In view of the Salesian Mission Day (SMD)2014, the community of Divyadaan celebrated the Missionary Week from 4th November to 9th November. The traditional Salesian Mission Day (11th November) was anticipated due to the celebration of the community day. The Missionary group of Divyadaan helped the community with variety of prayer services focus on the missionary zeal in the community.
The Missionary week began with the Holy Eucharist on 4th November. Fr. Savio D’Souza, the Rector, preached on the theme of the Mission Day – “We are the Others”, sharing Christ’s love with the migrants. He explained the different aspects of the migrants all over the world and how Don Bosco himself was a migrant during his boyhood and Christ who came as a migrant to the world leaving his heavenly abode. The inaugural prayer service put the community to be oriented towards the missionary dimension of the Salesian apostolate.
On 5th. Nov. a short documentary on the Salesian mission in Angola from the Missions department made the community meditate on the need of Salesian mission around the globe.  The Holy Mass was presided over by Rev Fr Paul Olphindro SDB, the Vice Provincial of Silchar Province who spoke about the nature of Salesian Missionary as the one who is with Jesus, Don Bosco and the people of the missions. The community was blessed with the visit of Fr. Fabio Attard SDB, the General Councilor for Youth Apostolate. His presence and talks added more fuel to the fervour of the missionary week.
Keeping up the theme and the message of the SMD, a Missionary Rosary was dedicated for the migrants from each continent. The Missionary Rosary was designed by Archbishop Fulton J Sheen in 1951 that dedicates each decade for a continent.
There was also a conference on New Evangelization from a veteran Salesian Missionary of Africa, Rev. Fr. Tony D’Souza SDB, who is the confessor of Divyadaan. He urged the young Salesians to give attention to the faith formation in the ministry. He also shared his mission experience in Africa and the evangelization in the different counties in Africa.
An adoration service was also conducted to thank the Almighty for the missionaries who worked in this sub-continent and also for the missionary vocations from different parts of the country especially for the missionary aspirants, pre-novices and novices.

A week of mission orientation in this post-novitiate community culminated with the concluding Eucharist in the morning and in the evening with the prayer service. During the concluding prayer service a video on the theme ‘We are the Others’ from the mission department was screened along with the prayer for the Mission Day. All the brothers appreciated the programme of the missionary week  and found it both informative and inspiring .   

Saturday, 9 November 2013

We are the Others

From a ‘Sleepy eye’ to a ‘Roving eye’ to make a difference:
A reflection:  we are the others

From the life of Mother Teresa we glean this incident of Christian love.
“On her rounds in the neighborhood she came upon an old lady who was very sick and consequently always in a bad mood. She lived alone in a small room under a staircase in a very pitiful condition. When Mother Teresa first came to meet her she was greeted by the ire of the old woman. However she stuck on. All she did was light a candle in the dark room and sit in silence by the side of the old woman. She did this daily. Even when she couldn’t come she would send two sisters who would tidy up the place and light a lamp in the dark room.”
This is what I mean of moving from a ‘sleepy eye’ to a ‘roving eye’. A sleepy eye is a congenital disease which is progressive and results in losing sight in that eye. You end up seeing or noticing nothing. On other hand a ‘roving eye’ is a term first used for pirates on the high seas. With their telescopes the scanned the horizon never missing a detail, taking in everything not being selective.
If I were to extrapolate this ‘sleepy eye’ and ‘roving eye’ to our lives, with a little  introspection we would realize what we ‘see’ and pay attention to has its affirmation in our basic attitude.
We would be like ‘Dives’ of the Gospel. The rich man who never noticed Lazarus the destitute outside his house, or we could be a surveyor who takes heart-moving pictures, makes statistics of the poor in the world and end up with an award for himself. Can we make a difference? Can we be courageous to act?
Let us not be those who take a panoramic view of structures but zoom in close to people’s lives. Look into the favelas of Brazil, the ghettos of the U.S., the barrios of Cuba, the bastis of India.
This year’s theme for the Mission is “WE ARE THE OTHERS”, to increase our awareness of migrants. It aims at making us realize that we too are wayfarers in the journey of life. That what problems migrants face are synonymous to our own problems. The problems such as displacement due to war, unemployment, social ostracization, even ethnic violence are some that cause people to leave their homeland. Sometimes we deem to turn a blind eye to all that happens with the feeling that it is another’s job to fulfill. It is not ours to demand justice and equal rights for them. We may feel ‘who are we?’
 Yet the moment we realize that we are the others equity or egalitarianism will not be a criteria instead they will be the outcome or consequence. The ideal that will permeate will be the “Golden Rule”. With charity at its very substratum which grows form a humility where we don’t put ourselves down but we uphold  the need to go out and help. A famous quote speaks thus, “A Christian must not stand at the threshold of the door waiting to be invited, but must go out and be like yeast whose very presence permeates justice, truth, and charity.
Yet how would this be. It would only come to pass if we NOTICED, SAW AND DECIDED TO ACT, thus the analogy of the ‘sleepy eye’ and the ‘roving eye’. Jacque Derrida would say to spur us into doing something for another it take ‘madness’ at the moment of the ‘decision’ a madness that disregards all absolutes and make a choice to do something for another. Although this is his own bent of thought I would like to juxtapose it with something I read in Teresio Bosco’s biography of Don Bosco.“The undivided heart that does not know half measures, faces the challenges of reality, and transforms human patience into Christian impatience. To the timorous promptings of ‘Common Sense’ it answers with enthusiasm. The saints have common sense, and lots of it, but we always notice it afterwards (post factum) their behaviour looks like madness, but is instead a great act of faith in God and in human beings not a passive faith awaiting everything from heaven, but a faith springing from vision and from adventure, a faith that goes on the offensive. Don Bosco was animated by this kind of faith rooted in love.”  Hence the need to reach out to those in needs thinking as if they were our own.
Thus we would have to keep our eyes open and be courageous to help, come what may. Jesus said ‘give without counting the cost.’ In today’s jargon I reckon it would be ‘cost effectiveness’. He said if someone asks you your coat give your shirt as well. But then we would think that this would make the other rich and myself poor. However have you thought of it that the person edified by your generosity in turn gave away your coat (now his) to one more impoverished than himself and thus you’ve helped not one but two persons. Your roving eye made a difference. Just like Mother Teresa when she made a difference in that old lady’s life, by lighting a candle in that dark room every day. She had lit the candle of hope in the heart of that destitute lady.

It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness, for in sharing its flame with another candle the brightness is not halved but doubled.
Cl. Nathaneal

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Inaugural Prayer Service - Missionary Week 2013


Hymn: This is My Commandment ...

11 November 1875 is a great milestone in the Salesian congregation. The first band of missionary Salesians were bid farewell in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, Turin. The small step taken before 133 years towards one country in sowing the seed of faith made the same seed to be rooted in 135 countries. This great day in the congregation is commemorated as the Salesian Mission Day. “The radical witness of leaving one’s own country and culture for the sake of the gospel and the young is our best image of Don Bosco today.” Blessed by the Father with the grace to give especially to the young, we the Sons of Don Bosco in India are the first beneficiaries of the Salesian Mission who are entrusted with the ‘seeds of reviving’ the missionary spirit in every confrere, every member of the Salesian Family. May this missionary week in our community fill us with the zeal that our early missionaries possessed.
Praising the Lord:
 Response:   We praise You, Lord, for Your glory.
1.      Almighty God, we praise You for You are our creator.
2.      All powerful God, we praise You for Your enduring love.
3.      Abba Father, we bless You for Your faithfulness throughout ages.
4.      Merciful Lord, we praise You for Your everlasting word.
5.      Gracious Lord, we bless You for Your prophets and missionaries.

Reading from the Biographical Memoris Vol.XI, 358 -360. (1st Missionary Expedition)
            Sending missionaries to the various parts of the world was an uppermost thought of Don Bosco in founding the congregation.  He himself wanted to become a missionary. The missionary love of our father, Don Bosco this year prompts us to open our hearts to the care of migrants in our societies, our vicinities, our institutions etc. And in ‘sharing’ Christ’s love with migrants, the Salesian mission day invites us to proclaim to the rest of our brethren the theme, ‘We are the Others’. Don Bosco was a migrant; at the Moglia Farm, he was a farmhand. As a tailor and an attendant at the bar, he was a migrant at study. Away from home, in the city of Turin, he was a migratory among his little lost migrants themselves. In the same way Our Blessed Lord was also a migrant who left his Heavenly abode and came into the world as one among us. Thus the Salesian Mission Day, 2014 with its special focus on the migrants and the Salesian Mission in Europe is an open invitation for all of us to identify ourselves with the others of little hope.
Hymn: I give my hands… 
Response: Make us Your Instruments O Lord.
         We pray to God our father, author of every plan of holiness, that He may point us the path to holiness He has chosen for us.
         Grant the Missionaries courage and forbearance in the moments of difficulties and turmoil that they may gain strength when they are weak through Your guiding hand in their mission land serving Your people.
         We beseech you for the migrant youth around the globe and the missionaries who are involved in the apostolate for the migrants.
         As we are geared up towards the bicentenary birth of Don Bosco we pray for our congregation that the charism of Our father and founder, St. John Bosco may be carried to the ends of the earth by the salesian missionaries.
         Through this missionary week we pray that the zeal for the mission may make us effective in our apostolate and our in everyday life.
Our Father…

Concluding Prayer:
O God, the source of everything that is good, by giving the ardent missionaries You direct us in the path to salvation through your servants especially through the missionaries. Enlighten the missionaries to sow the faith once again with the same enthusiasm in the hearts of all Christians. May we too find this special vocation in our apostolate. We make this prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ Amen.  

Missionary Anthem to Conclude: Be My Witnesses.


In view of the Salesian Mission Day 2014 with the theme "We are the Others", the community of Divyadaan has geared up with the Missionary Week from 4th November to 9th November with different activites. Fr. Savio D'Souza, the Rector begun the missionary week with the holy Eucharist.

Saturday, 2 November 2013


“Admiration leads to imitation” – this phrase is relevant in my missionary life in Africa. The source of my admiration rather inspiration to be a missionary in the large continent was Rev. Fr. Tony D’Souza SDB, who led the Province of Mumbai and also of the Province of East Africa as Superior In-Charge and then Provincial. He was able to see in me a missionary in the vast continent where he once served. His persuasion and my admiration for him made me to imitate him as an African Missionary. The missionary expedition was set and my journey to Africa came true. My mission was assigned to the place in South Sudan, Juba, as it is called now.
To give a brief narration of the situation, once the largest country in Africa, what we knew as Sudan are now two independent republics, Sudan and South Sudan. They remain a microcosm of the larger African experience offering a diversity of geography, histories, cultures, livelihoods, religions, and languages. Sites of both horrific hostilities and extraordinary peace making, the two Sudans continue to compel their citizens, neighbors and the international community to consider fundamental questions of nation-building, governance, justice and peace. Sudan has experienced through two rounds of devastating civil war since 1955, which have undermined the institutions of governance and various infrastructures. An estimated 2 million people are believed to have died in the fighting or as a result of conflict-induced famine. Around 4 million people were displaced from their homes. Both Sudanese Government forces and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) stand accused of serious human rights violations. However, Sudan brought to an end the second civil war in 2005 with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A (Sudan’s People Liberation Movement/Army). Since then Sudan and South Sudan have been engaged in the effort to reconstruct the economy and governance institutions.

Knowing the story, we travelled from Juba, to Wau either by UNICEF or military planes. The only possible means was military aircraft because of the threat from the rebels. Yet, travelling in a military craft itself could not give guarantee for the safe landing and so we were asked to acknowledge that we take the risk willingly by signing a document.

Dei gratia, our journey was safe in reaching the military aerodrome. Now, to reach our destiny, we had to join the local people in a small truck. The indigenous people were happy to see a new ‘Abuna’ (means priest in their language). From Wau to Tonj where we had our mission station was about 100 km or it seemed so as there were no roads and one had to find the beaten path through the forest.

Journey in the middle of the thick African forest was not a smooth-sail but was a joyful experience with the simple people. Unfortunately it did not last long. The truck stopped all of a sudden on account of machine gun fire all around us, when we looked out we were surrounded by rebels or a mob of robbers. Along with the fear my heart felt sorry for the young who supposed to have pen, had gun in hand. They certainly seemed trigger-happy youngsters, ready to pull the trigger any time. My prayer was, ‘Dear Lord, I have come to be a missionary and I will die even before becoming one.’ Fr. James SDB, who had been guiding us, was able to converse with the gang leader in Dinka the local dialect and they left us. But the trauma within me was unforgettable. I even questioned whether my missionary life was going to an end before I could begin. The rough delinquents were respectful to the priests and they neither did harm nor rob our belongings. I was happy that my collection for the missionary works was spared.

The tough journey was over as we reached our mission centre. The place was in middle of a forest and our mission was to serve the people affected with leprosy and the wages of war battered and bruised by gun fire or mines that had blown up much of their limbs. The rectory was a small room of tin sheets. As we were tried of the journey we went to sleep. Heavy bombarding of shells broke the midnight silence. I could see through my window the fire flares of bullets crisscrossing out in the open sky.

I went to sleep for the night but woke up on account of the continuous sound of gunfire and bombing. I slid on my knees to pray asking God to protect me and keep me safe. My companion on the other bed, was amused that I was on my knees and said, are you afraid, Godfrey, to which I said, it is ok for you, tomorrow you leave me and go back. I have to stay for the coming years. I need God’s help in this situation.

Amidst the humpty number of difficulties the consolation is the love and affection of the people. For the people we, the priests and religious, are God’s gift. To be the signs and bearers of God’s love through the mission for these people make us be assured of the right way of fulfilling God’s will for us.