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Golden Jubilee clebrations begin at Don Bosco, Azimganj
By Cl. Jose Cheriatt
Kolkata, Feb. 1. Don Bosco Azimganj celebrated celebrate the fifty years of its  service to the socially underprivileged and educationally neglected group of Santhals of the region nearly 2,000 people participated in the programme on 28th January, 2017.
On 31 March, 1964 Father Sergi under the direction of the then Provincial, Father Orestes Paviotti began Salesian Mission in Azimganj, a small village at a distance of 290  k.m. north of Kolkata.   The first Salesian community took up residence in Azimganj under the leadership of Father Vincent Lazzaro on 16 July, 1967.

The school and the hostel managed  with the irreplaceable cooperation of the Sisters of Charity of Sts Bartolomea Capitanio and Vincenza Gerosa, have helped over 10,000 students to  abandon illiteracy and  move ahead in life, competing with the mainstream students. In these years of struggle against all odds to keep the school going, it is a matter of great satisfaction to know that 1852 students have come through the Madyamik examinations.  The nascent church  planted by the early missionaries not only developed into a believing Christian community but gave birth to its own  Shepherds by way of fostering vocations to priesthood and religious life.

The Golden Jubilee celebration was marked by a three hour cultural programme staged by 550 students of the school which has a total student strength of 700. As the programme began Father Sebastian Thekkel, the Rector of the community welcomed everyone to thank God for the fifty years He has given to spread his love and care for his little fold in and around Azimganj.  He said, ''When the pioneers ventured into this land of the Nawabs they had unlimited trust and confidence in  Divine Providence.''  He remembered the great pioneers and missionaries like, Father John Topno, Joseph Topno, Pier Luca, Jesus Gimnez, Cajetan Biswas, George Alakulam, Joseph Cherian, Jose Chiramel, George C.K, Thomas K.T (Junior), and Bimal Hembrom who have gone to their eternal reward.

What then came on the stage - cultural dances, recitation, dance drama Bollywood dance, fusion dance, cultural songs - showcased the unexplored talents which when given a chance found sky as the limit. The dance drama, 'Journey to Freedom', blended artistically 'Tasher Desh' of Rabindranath Tagore with the story of Don Bosco and indicated how his principle, not with blows but with kindness, can lead young people to true freedom.

Father Nirmol Gomes Provincial of the Salesian Province of Kolkotta had great appreciation for the staff and students who put up such wonderful performance.  He invited the assembly to join him as he sang the praises of God for His marvelous works in Azimganj.  He said, ''What we have become is through the blessing of God and what we will be is also through Him.''

The great service rendered by the Salesian Mission with the collaboration of the Sisters of Charity  was highlighted by Ms Louisa Hembrom, an alumnus of the school and the girls' hostel, when she shared how the Institutes where she spent her most important formative years helped her to become a  fully empowered woman and build up a career and family, thus become a contributing member of the society. Mr Justin Hasda, another alumnus from the boys' hostel said, ''The education and the training we received in Don Bosco provided us with a vision for the future. Here we learnt to do the right thing at the right time, giving importance to every aspect of life.''

On the following morning the religious and Christian community of Azimganj led by their Bishop Joseph Gomes gathered in the parish church to thank God for the great work accomplished by God through the instrumentality of  the pioneering missionaries and those who took up the rein later on. The Eucharistic procession, an annual event,  followed the Mass.  A short cultural programme that ensued concluded with a song based on the strenna of the year 'We are a Family'. Thus the Golden Jubilee celebration came to a happy conclusion reminding everyone  of the invitation of the Rector Major  to make 'every home a school of life and love.'

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