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Mother Teresa Sisters chaplain for 40 years passes away
By C.M. Paul
Kolkata, Jun. 9. Mother Teresa Sisters' chaplain for 40 years, the oldest Salesian in Kolkata province and lone Italian missionary in Kolkata died on 9 June 2019 in a Kolkata hospital. He was 98 years old. His funeral will be held at 2.30 pm on Friday, 14 June at the historical Marian shrine at Bandel.
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The Kolkata Salesian Provincial Secretary Dr Mathew George announced in a statement, ''After taking part in the Holy Mass yesterday (8 June) Fr. Rosario Stroscio developed high fever and the doctor was called in to examine him. With the medicines, the fever subsided. He was given the anointing of the sick. He was restless and could not sleep the whole night. This morning (9 June) again the fever returned and he was finding it difficult to breathe.'' The statement added that Fr. Remesh Cherian, a fellow priest rushed Fr. Stroscio to Ruby hospital. The 97-year-old priest was placed on a ventilator but he passed away at 4.45 pm.

Fr Rosario Stroscio was one of the 460 overseas Salesian missionaries who came to India since 1906. He had arrived in India in his teens in 1939. He had been staying at Auxilium Parish Kolkata for the last 40 years. To honour Don Bosco's vision of Salesian presence in India, he led the building of a magnificent shrine to Mary Help of Christians, known as Auxilium church. He was much loved as an affectionate pastor and respected for his piety. On 18 May the parishioners had celebrated his 98th birthday.

Fr Stroscio had been the first national president of the Indian chapter of the Marian Movement for Priests, serving several terms from the 1970s. A former professor of History at Salesian College Sonada and Provincial of the Kolkata province (1967 to 1972), Fr. Stroscio became a figure of controversy during his missionary work in Maliapota (Nadia Dist) in Krishnagar diocese when government served deportation order on trumped up 'conversion' charges.

It was then, Mother Teresa stepped in and requested the Marxist government to have him as her Chaplain to the Missionaries of Charity Sisters at neighbouring Prem Dan, a large rehabilitation centre for T.B. patients. The authorities relented, withdrew the deportation order, and Fr Stroscio stayed put at Auxilium since 1979.

The Salesians started Auxilium Parish in Tengra known as Dhapa (dumping ground) an out-law area on the outskirts of the city in 1974 having relinquished the Cathedral of the Most Holy Rosary Church on Portuguese Church street to Kolkata archdiocese in 1972. It was in the Cathedral parish that the Salesians started their first presence in Kolkata city in 1925 with the famous Catholic Orphan Press.

Today, Auxilium parish is possibly the largest slum parish in Kolkata with several Mass centres including Motijheel slum chapel, the very place where Mother Teresa of Calcutta started her street ministry and a Chinese chapel in Tengra.

In 1997, then Archbishop of Calcutta, Archbishop Henry Sebastian D'Souza, asked Fr Stroscio to pray over the 87-year-old Mother Teresa who had been hospitalized for heart-related ailments. Mother Teresa was suffering from acute insomnia. The Archbishop said that the doctors found no medical reason for her sleeplessness. Fr Stroscio prayed over her. Sister Teresa regained her calmness and slept peacefully.

With regard to the Auxilium church, Fr Stroscio often would say, ''it was the Auxilium church that Don Bosco would have seen in his dream as there are four Salesian institutions in this parish: the Auxilium Church, School and boys' hostel under Salesians; the Salesian Sisters' convent and girls' Hostel, as well as Provincial headquarters and Nitika Don Bosco in the parish territory. Fr. Strocio derived his understanding from the dream of Don Bosco on the night of 9th April 1886, where he had seen Calcutta as one of the major hubs of Salesian activities.

The short-built and soft-spoken missionary was another dreamer like Don Bosco and fulfilled the dream of building the Auxilium church in honour of Mary Help of Christians. The project began with the making of a plywood model of the Church in 1985. After 10 years of relentless work, the dream was materialized in 1995, under the direction of Fr K.K. Sebastian.

The church today stands not only as a house of prayer but also as a milestone of ongoing fulfilment of Don Bosco's dream. END
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