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Salesian Family celebrates the International Year of the Family
New Delhi, Feb. 11. On the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the International Year of the Family, 35 delegates belonging to different Salesian family branches of SDB, FMA, SMA, SMI, MSMHC, Don Bosco Alumni, Salesian Cooperators and ADMA from different provinces participated in the first regional meeting of this kind. The meeting of Salesian Family Delegates and representatives of the South Asian region was held on 7-9 February 2014, at Don Bosco Provincial House, Hyderabad.  
Salesian Family Delegates Meeting, February 7-9, 2014
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On the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the International Year of the Family, 35 delegates belonging to different Salesian family branches of SDB, FMA, SMA, SMI, MSMHC, Don Bosco Alumni, Salesian Cooperators and ADMA from different provinces participated in the first regional meeting of this kind. The meeting of Salesian Family Delegates and representatives of the South Asian region was held on 7-9 February 2014, at Don Bosco Provincial House, Hyderabad.  
Fr. John Lens, a senior Salesian and a stalwart of Salesian studies and mission in the Salesian Province of Hyderabad chaired the inaugural session. Fr. Noel Maddhichetty the SPCSA delegate for Salesian family inaugurated the meeting by conveying the message of Fr. Maria Arokiam Kanaga, the regional councilor of South Asia. In his message the Regional councillor  had called upon the salesian family to unite on war footing to come together on causes that affect the young, especially in the areas such as human rights, apostolate for immigrant youth, child protection, young at risk, Right to Education, gender education, raising our prophetic voice on violence against women, etc. Fr. Noel exhorted the participants to make the three days as a celebration of communion in the Salesian Family. Fr. John Lens presided over the Holy Eucharist of the day. Fr. Vijayabhasker Thatireddy, the Vice Provincial  gave a inspiring homily to set the tone of the three-day meeting.
The first two days were set apart to reflect on theme of ''Youth Ministry in the context of Family ministry'' Fr. G. Arul, National Director of Holy Family Ministry Institute, Bangalore and the former secretary of CCBI Family Commission, began the input sessions along with his team. Mr. Albert Selvanayagam, a renowned professor and a specialist in family accompaniment handled the first three sessions, on Team Building, Signs of the times in family ministry and Challenges in family life, respectively. He shared his expertise through various workshops of process oriented activities, based on methods of accompanying families in crisis which brought out the intrinsic principles in understanding the families such as the task of the family and the individual, Individual Growth and Growth in family bond.  In later session he made an analysis of the content and methodology of family education, role of critical thinking and enumerated the whole person paradigm to understand the families today.
The second day of the meeting began with creative celebration of the lauds and the Holy Eucharist presided over by Fr. Antony Selvaraj SDB, who commemorates 60 year of his religious profession. During the homily Fr. Noel  highlighted the integral role of the family ambinent and family spirit in Salesian Youth Ministry. In the fifth session of input Dr. Yolande Pereira, an expert in family therapy and a professional counselor animated the gathering on how the role of the parents in educating to sexuality has a great impact in building up the family. She stressed on the Parental journey in building character by helping the children to set right goals, trusting, following them up and evaluating their behavior resulting in family customs that will empower children to grow in proper understanding of sexuality.  
The participants worked in groups according to provinces to draw up the lines of action for family ministry to be carried out by the entire salesian family in different provinces. The representatives from SMA, the Disciples, SMI and MSMHC presented their charism, salient features of their mission, and characteristics of affiliation to Salesian Family and to Spirituality of Don Bosco.
The third day began with Morning Prayer and celebration of the Holy Eucharist was presided over by Fr. Joe D'Souza, the founder of the Don Bosco Institute of Disciples known as the Disciples. The call to be light of the world and salt of the earth in the context of the Salesian family was the key theme in breaking the word of God.
In the first session of the day, Sr. Phyllis Fernandes FMA enumerated the numerical and material strength of the Catholic Church in India. She called upon the groups according to provinces to discuss and come out with lines of action as Salesian family to pool up the resources and network in youth ministry. The following suggestions emerged from the discussions: 1 Youth Ministry plan to be drawn up as Salesian Family in the provincial and local level. 2. Networking at the Provincial and Local level. 3. To build familial ambience in the Salesian Family 4. Sharing of Resources in the Salesian Family 5. Training of Lay collaborators in the Salesian Family.
Fr. Noel, coordinated the session on networking as the salesian family in which he insisted on the formation of the Salesian family consultative body at provincial  and local levels, annual celebration of the Salesian family day, sharing of information in the annual programme of  different branches of salesian family, giving importance to senior stalwarts of salesian family, having human rights perspectives in our ministry, building up data base to collaborate in evangelization, knowledge management, vocation and career guidance, placement service, advocacy and resource management. He also introduced the floor to ''Pascual Chavez award for innovative ministry'' for which he invited the Salesian family to apply for the award. He introduced the www.donboscoindia.com website and explained how one can link to the websites of Salesian family.

Fr. Noel explained about the three national level events planned by the Major Superiors and representatives of the Salesian Family on 6 April 2013 at Guwahati, in view of the Bi-centenary celebrations of the birth of St. John Bosco. The Major Superiors of Salesian Family met together in April 2013 and agreed to collaborate and participate in these three events of celebration: 1. The Boscoree to be held at Tanjavor at  end  of 2014. 2. The Youth-Expo  to be held in Delhi, 2015. 3. He also explained about the Salesian Family Congress planned to be held in Kolkata, 2015. The Salesian Family Delegates expressed further, their expectations and proposals with regard the national level celebrations of the Bi-centenary with regard to the Salesian family congress.
The participants emphasised the need for a regular annual meeting of this nature, to forge stronger bonds communion in the Salesian Family in the regional level and to multiply the force of the members of the Salesian family to continue the mission of Don Bosco in a visible and to make significant impact.

Fr. Emmanuel Vattakunnel, Salesian Family Delegate of province of Delegate, proposed the vote of thanks for all the participants. In a special way he thanked Fr. Noel Maddhichetty, the Regional Salesian Family Delegate who coordinated and animated the programme. He also thanked the Provincial, vice provincial, administrator and all the Salesians in the Provincial house of Hyderabad for having extended warm and wonderful hospitality to the Salesian Family Delegates of the region. The meeting concluded with angelus and a thanks giving prayer by Fr. Doss Kennedy the Vice Provincial and Salesian family delegate of INT.  A hymn to Don Bosco was sung, when a Souvenir of Bicentenary of Don Bosco was given to all the participants.

Report compiled by Fr. Dominic Bernatsha SDB


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