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Don Bosco celebrates mega Youth experience with Symbios in Mumbai
By Father Glenford Lowe
Mumbai, Dec. 19. MUMBAI, DEC 18, 2016: The Youth Ministry Department of the Province of Saint Francis Xavier, Mumbai gave a big boost to the Salesian Youth Movement (SYM) during its five-day mega youth event 'SYMBIOS 2016' which was held at the Don Bosco International School (DBIS), Matunga from Dec 7-11.
SYMBIOS was first conceived as early as April 2016 during a Youth Ministry Commission meeting. An urgent need was felt to give the SYM greater visibility and momentum in the Province of Mumbai.

Eight months of planning with six sub-commissions put in place to oversee the entire mega youth event, SYMBIOS was slowly but steadily growing to be a reality. Taking a cue from the Strenna 2017, 'We are Family: a Home of Life and Love', the focus was on these three words HOME-LIFE-LOVE.

The entire programme of SYMBIOS centred around HOME as a place to CONNECT through relationships with the Divine and one another, around LIFE as a moment to CELEBRATE our giftedness, culture, faith and talents, and finally around LOVE as a time to COMMIT oneself to creating a better home and world at large. The youth ministry found their theme easily -  SYMBIOS: CONNECT, CELEBRATE, COMMIT.

Over 700 Youth from 22 Salesian institutions representing the Indian states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra, together with over 30 young Salesians, 20 lay animators, 30 resource personnel and a team of dedicated Salesians, volunteers and ancillary staff joined together in a never-seen-before event.

Youth from different institutions were given opportunities to mingle with one another, to share their experiences and pick up the best practices from other institutions. The celebrative moments came in the form of 'Art Expressions - rangoli, clay modelling, best of waste, painting, collage, gadget making' and during the cultural performances. The entire event was non-competitive in nature. The simple tele-games, organised by Father Shanker - and the youth from Dominic Savio parish Antop Hill - on the turf ground added much laughter.

The youth were grouped into four main categories according to their area of interests, namely, Family, Neighbourhood, Civil Society and Environment. The resource personnel animated their various group sessions and challenged the participants to commit themselves to creating a better home, neighbourhood, society and eco-friendly world.

Father Godfrey D'Sa, Father Mayank Parmar, Father Anaclete D'Mello, Saby Francis, Father Prashant sj and his team, Father Isaac Arackaparambil, Father Suren Abreu and his team, Ashok Rathod and his OSCAR team, Marina D'Costa and Tejal, the Pomegranate Group and GreenLine gave the youth a larger than life perspective and values for making a significant contribution as members of the SYM.

The elements of the SYM were presented in a youthful style through skits, dance, mime and song. The cultural moments were lively, professional and colourful. One could sense the love for culture and art forms. The Holy Eucharist in the Shrine was presided over by Father Godfrey D'Souza, the Provincial, and an interfaith service organised by Father Mayank Parmar provided the spiritual tone much needed by the youth.

The theme song was composed by Hayden Dias and choreography was by the young Salesians from Divyadaan, Nashik. Since the youth came from different religious, cultural and language backgrounds, provisions were made to ensure that the programme was all inclusive and bilingual. Youth from outstation were housed at Don Bosco Youth Services, the Shrine building and the DBIS premises and had the opportunity to visit Mumbai's famous landmarks.

Father Ajoy Fernandes, headed the planning committee and was assisted by Father Cleophas Braganza, Father Vinod Mascarenhas, Father Leon Cruz, Father Leon Rodrigues and Royal Dsouza. Father Glenford Lowe, Father McEnroe Lopes and Francis D'Souza, together with Sony Sports, designed the flags, T-Shirts and SYMBIOS souvenirs.

The Office of the Economer, Father Elson Barretto, the Development Office and many sponsors provided the financial support.

SYMBIOS is here to stay. The movement has begun. The Connection-Celebration-Commitments will also bind the participants to make the Salesian Youth Movement more visible and vibrant in the province.
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