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Salesian Provincial Community Day Celebrations held in Mumbai
By Father Joaquim Fernandes sdb
Mumbai, Dec. 7. Nearly 100 Salesian confreres along with the provincial councillors and most of the animators of communities, from the Salesian Province of Mumbai celebrated Provincial Community Day at Saint Dominic Savio, Andheri, Mumbai on December 3.

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Father Godfrey D'Souza, Provincial of the Salesian Province of Mumbai, flanked by the provincial councillors, presided over the solemn Eucharist at 6.00 pm at the Chapel of Saint Dominic Savio.

Father Provincial gave a brief introduction during the Eucharistic celebration. He enumerated the four stages of Spiritual Growth by Morgan Scott Peck, a famous American psychiatrist. Stage one, he said, was a Separation from God - chaos. This is the classic 'sinner' stage where the individual is separate from God and therefore in spiritual darkness and moral chaos.

Stage two, he added, is Institutional / Fundamental - after reconciliation with God, the new believer will join a church/ministry/sect. Stage three is the Individual-Seeker stage, wherein healthy believers will grow as individuals and develop an identity separate from the group. They'll start to question doctrines that don't really gel with the Scriptures or make sense. They'll seek truth - reality - beyond the limitations of their sect and elders, that is, if they sense they're in error in one area or another.

Finally, in stage four, he said, believers, develop a living relationship with God, rather than just knowing about Him. This is the goal of Christianity and explains why the Gospel of Christ is called the 'message of reconciliation'. He thanked God for the Graces which have been showered on the Salesian Province of Mumbai and thanked all the leaders of the community for sharing the mission of Christ and Don Bosco.

Father Gregory Almeida, provincial councillor, then shared his reflection during the homily on the life of Staint Francis Xavier and how he consolidated Christian faith in India. ''What was the secret of his success?'' he asked, adding that when Xavier arrived in Goa, India, on May 6, 1542, he came to be admired for his ability to live and work side by side with the poor, seeking more converts.

The secret of his success, Father Almeida, said, was the regular spiritual exercises, his priority to the vow of Obedience and Poverty, his love for children, apostolic zeal, and above all his love for God. Though he passed away at a relatively young age, Xavier had accomplished much in his life. He interspersed the reflections with the Provincial Chapter documents and requested everyone to introspect into their lives and find how God calls us to be faithful to our mission.

He narrated the example of the football-playing Salesian priest Father Marciano ''Rocky'' Evangelista, who started Tuloy Foundation Inc., a home and training center for street children in Metro Manila in 1993.  He started the Tuloy center in the Philippines, with 10 lay volunteers in 1993. It helps 'poor and abandoned children to regain self-worth and dignity, giving them a chance for a better life, acquire Christian values and habits for a decent, humane and Christian life, and develop the skills and training for self-reliance and integration into society'. This whole work runs on Divine providence and entirely by lay collaborators.

An informal gathering around Father Provincial led by a group of confreres, began at 8.00 pm. Words of appreciation and thanks were expressed towards Father Provincial and the provincial council by Father Brian Moras, Rector of  Saint Dominic Savio Andheri, the host community which was instrumental in organising the Province Community Day celebrations. It was a happy occasion since they begin celebrating the Golden Jubilee of their institution.


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