Renovated Chapel at SBK, Karunapuram

Last Saturday (July 26, 2014), the renovated Chapel of the Salesian Brothers was blessed and inaugurated.  The presence of Fr Joshtrom Isaac from Rome, was certainly an added blessing on the day… Indeed the hard work of the Brothers themselves in painting, modifying and re-modelling the chapel was praiseworthy. In all their efforts, they were constantly guided and supported by their Assistant, Cl. Manu Michael (INK)

The renovated Chapel of the Salesian Brothers, at Karunapuram

The Salesian Brothers with Fr Joshtrom after the blessing and Mass in the renovated Chapel of the Salesian Brothers, at Karunapuram. To the far left is CL. Manu Michael, the Assistant of the Brothers.

It would also be interesting to note that perhaps this Salesian community at Karunapuram, comprising of 61 Salesian confreres of which 17 are Salesian Brothers (16 temporarily professed and 1 perpetually professed) could very well be the community with the largest number of Salesian Brothers in the whole congregation!! 

The Jeans Pant Vocation

I lost my father early in life and my elder brother was the one who took care of me all along. I looked up to him as my father and his word mattered the most to me. After my initial schooling, I was keen to join the ITI (Technical skill training) or college, and longed to wear jeans pant and so on. However, my brother intended that I join the Seminary. And when he told me this, I meekly accepted. I never was fascinated by Priesthood and did not fancy the idea at all. However after much searching around for suitable seminaries, we found that the recruitment drive was already done for the year. Within my heart I was happy… that was till a Priest, expressed his desire to meet me after two days. So it was that after two days, my Brother and I, along with all my belongings reached the place of this Priest. After some time of discussion it was agreed that I would join the formation house of the CM Fathers. I ‘happily smiled’. But since I had not yet received Holy Communion the whole plan of joining the seminary was busted! My joy knew no bounds! But that too was short-lived. The Priest then suggested that I stay with him and assist in the boarding of the boys, during which he would prepare me for the Sacraments. I had no heart to deny this offer made by the Priest and affirmed by my brother.

Thus it was that after a week I reached the boarding as the warden. As time went by, I learnt the required catechism, received Holy Communion and one fine day, the Priest told me that the vocation camp is on and I should join it. I reluctantly went. Once at the camp, the confusion as to which congregation to choose was compounded by the presence of numerous vocation promoters from different congregations. As some of us, bemoaning our plethora of choice were seated in one place during the break, appears Fr Sony Cyriac, whom we later came to know as a Salesian of Don Bosco working in Odisha. As boys we were awe-struck by his physique: tall, well-built, fair and looking completely different from the rest! Some of us literally followed him all day, like puppies!

Later in the day, he addressed all the boys, in English and another boy who had accompanied him, translated his message. I don’t remember much of what he said but I remember what the translator shared with us in private later. He said, at Don Bosco, he was unable to handle the ‘pressure of so much fun and thrill’ and he would love some company from his own place! You can have good food, go to class, wear jeans pants…, he added. I said to myself, here’s an opportunity to fulfill my dream of wearing jeans pants… if not in college, in a Seminary what difference? That did it. I enrolled my name and address and within a few days I was invited for the vocation camp of the Salesians at Muniguda, Odisha.

Life at the camp was great. The presence of Fathers and Brothers was electrifying. We had songs, games, dances, we even put up dramas. Being short in stature, I got to play the role of Johnny Bosco in one of them. Of the 35 who attended, I was one of the lucky few to be selected. At Don Bosco, Muniguda life was a roller coaster. There was work, games, study, songs, competitions… everything one could only imagine in dreams. We were also taught Salesiana and though we were told about Priesthood and Brotherhood, it did not really strike me. One fine day, two Salesians, a Priest and a Brother visited us and stayed with us for a day or two. The Salesian Brother was asked to speak to us and all along we found him very active and always rolling up his shirt sleeves. Towards the end of his interaction with us, one of us asked him, as to why he had his shirt sleeves folded rather than buttoned at the wrists like the others. His reply, “Because a Salesian Brother is always active and ready!” That struck me and it was then that I decided to become a Salesian Brother.

I professed as a Salesian Brother on May 24, 2014 and am now pursuing my Philosophical Studies at the Salesian study centre of Don Bosco Philosophate, Karunapuram (Warangal), in the Salesian Province of Hyderabad (INH). My parents are yet to reconcile themselves to this choice of mine, but I’m determined. I pray, and seek your prayers too, that I may grow deeper in my vocation. I came in dreaming of the jeans pant but am now living the Salesian life as a Brother. May my life of commitment be as strong and sturdy as the jeans pant!

That's me in the yellow t-shirt, trying to stretch myself - or rather, my jeans pant!

That’s me in the yellow t-shirt, trying to stretch myself – or rather, my jeans pant!

The moose and me, during our first outing in my new community.

The moose and me, during our first outing in my new community.

[Br Pani Nanok sdb]

Salesian Lay Brothers’ Congress 2014 – An Empirical Search for Rescripting Holiness as Partnership

Jai Ho! Salesian Brothers’ Congress is yet here again, with the usual panoply and fanfare? Perhaps, No. I noticed something different from the conventional, this time over, about the Congress. To start with, there is something fascinating with the theme appearing on the Logo: “Salesians, be Holy.” It gives me a hunch that the forthcoming Congress is not going to be a predictable copybook repeat, with the customary ingredients of Brochure, Beverage, Tour, T-Shirt and Topi, smacking of a corporate mega-show. I have a feeling from within, that this Congress is going to break new ground. A Paradigm Shift is on the horizon, in the way, the Brothers’ Congress has been imagined and going to be executed, with also a Survey on Salesianity, served, as we were running up to the Congress.

 

It is a daring and path breaking attempt, on the part of the organizers, to look at and into the Brothers’ way of holiness, straight into the face – empirically. It is left unsaid that the organizers are going take the trouble of analyzing and interpreting the Survey Results, with critical reverence and from a multi-disciplinary perspective.  If so, the exercise, will surely serve to bring out the latent, suppressed and unspoken factors, which are holding them back, and equally, the untapped potential, and synergize them to blossom forth as even more impact-filled charismatic force. The Survey findings will throw up the sociological and psycho-spiritual baggage, in the different Provinces, which, when cleared, would lead to greater integration of selves and communities. It is a sure recipe for a more invested and dynamic Complementarity of the Lay and the Clerical.

 

Naturally, the Clerical constituent too would have lessons to learn, from the Survey. Like Don Egidio Vigano poignantly stated, “The crisis in the vocation of the Salesian Lay Brother is actually the crisis in the identity of the Priest.” I wish the Congress would be an exercise in joint soul-searching, to move ahead, in true Complementarity, towards a more vibrant servant-leadership of the poor and marginalized youth of South Asia. I presume all those who matter, would be conspicuous by their presence, and not their absence, in this forum!

 

It is my dream that the Salesian Brothers Congress – 2014, with its empirical thrust and mood, will assist at the birth of a new culture among the Salesian Brothers of South Asia, where they would reclaim the richness of the Lay, in their call and not fight shy of it, in blind imitation of the so-called non-clerical Congregations of Brothers. While I was serving as the Rector of Don Bosco Philosophate, Karunapuram, of the combined communities of the Salesian Lay Brothers and the Clerics, I had experienced certain discomfort, the Brothers seem to be having, with the Lay, as an adjective, and as a component of/in describing their identity. I was left wondering, why?

 

Complementarity is a challenging prospect to live with, but a beautiful exercise in Fraternity-in-Partnership. May the Congress be an Advent and a new Pentecost, blended into one, where the Salesian Lay Brothers of South Asia will reconfigure themselves, along the software of the Vatican II, as inscribed in Lumen Gentium and Gaudum et Spes. And lead the Clerics, to where they would not dare to go, ungluing them from their many churchy altars, to the Altar of the World, in a movement of Partnership, with all the People of God, and All God’s People. May the Congress be blazing new trails and kindling new hopes, in making the genial creation of Don Bosco, even more genial and ingeniously incarnate, indeed a New Wine in New Wineskins. Vintage quality, at that, able to intoxicate humanity, with their mystique of action, just lay, and nothing more, not having pretensions to being bonsaied clerics.  Just being that would help them, as we get on ahead for the next Congress, to take up the two unfinished agendas of Vatican II: creating a positive and declericalized theology of the “Laity” (an evident misnomer!) and becoming even better catalysts of a culture of partnership, of Nature, Women and Men, interrogating the oppressive structures of Patriarchy, in the Church and outside, growing in Feminist Consciousness..

 

African reps for South Asia Congress

Br Samuel Job and his ART 43 film unit

Br Samuel Job and his ART 43 film unit

GUWAHATI, (C.M. Paul) — Salesian Brothers of South Asia will meet in Guwahati, Assam at Don Bosco Institute Kharguli, on the banks of mighty Brahmaputra river, 30 December to 3 January 2014. The congress theme for study and reflection is: “Be Holy.”

A special FaceBook page has been designed to bring highlights to the run up of the Congress… give delegates a ring side view of the happenings and excitements…

Please visit the Congress page at this link  https://www.facebook.com/BrothersCongress?ref=hl and click “LIKE” on right side of the page…

You could also upload your photo and write WITH PRAYERS AND WISHES etc…

African Delegates to the South Asia Congress at Guwahati are: Bro Samuel Olu Job from Ghana AFW Provincial Councilor in charge of Social Communication. He was the youngest member of GC26 (2008) held in Rome. He is currently Director of Media Centre ‘ART 43’ in Ghana. https://www.facebook.com/Art43AfwMedia
After the Congress to be held at DBI Guwahati (30 Dec to 3rd Jan) Br Sam will visit Assam Don Bosco University.

Other special delegates from the Salesian Africa-Madagascar region participating at the South Asia Salesian Brothers Congress are:1) Fr Silvio Roggia (Ghana) Vice Provincial of AFW province. 2) Bro. John Njuguna (Uganda, AGL), and 3) Br. Mulugete Woledemeskel (Ethiopia).

The logo of the Congress 2013

logo2Here’s the proposed logo of the Brothers’ Congress 2013…

The outer ring symbolises the Assamese traditional hat while the the path and the wheel with the different Province initials represents the theme of the Congress (Salesians, be Holy) intending to mean that we are all on the journey to holiness. And of course, the structure in the lower portion is the Church (I guess, of Sohra).

It has been designed by Br Dianetious (ING) with support from friends and well-wishers.  If approved by all the members this could be the optical point of reference for the upcoming Congress.  Thanks Br Dianetious!