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Provincial Chapter VIII takes off in Hyderabad
By Castilino
Hyderabad, Feb. 5. Starting a Provincial Chapter with the topic of practical atheism seems absurd.  Yet that is how it was to be on February 4, 2013 in Hyderabad as 52 confreres (29 ex-officio members; 15 local community delegates and 8 Province Delegates) commenced the eighth Provincial Chapter (PC8) of the Salesian Province of Hyderabad.  Providing the initial impetus was Fr Stanislaus Swamikannu, the former Provincial of Chennai, through his radical talk.  The PC 8, which concludes on February 7, 2013, also consists of four observers from the Salesian family and two external Secretaries.  The moderator of the Chapter is Fr Thathireddy Vijayabhaskar, the Vice-Provincial.
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In his thought provoking inaugural talk, Fr Stan challenged the Chapter members to recognise the fact that religious life is today plagued by ambiguity and uncertainty.  The characteristics of this phenomena, are a selective choice of aspects that suit an individual (not necessarily the congregation at large), an adoption of convenient multiple identities rather than build one single identity with different expressions as per the context, a multiple standard of judgements (reserving a softer and flexible one for ourselves and a rigid and unpardoning attitude towards our beneficiaries) and a lack of living our faith (though intellectually we assert the existence and our belief in a God).  

These counter-representations and misinterpretations of modern religious life add to the ambiguity and uncertainty, he added.  As antidote he recommended that we strive for the grace of unity, service and witness.  Preaching about theme on 'mystics', Fr Stan reminded that the word, referred to anyone who was not himself. It was meant to identify someone apart from the normal, someone who viewed reality more holistically than the rest of the population, someone who was willing to let a higher spirit take charge of his/her life and be the centre of all relationships.  

A short prayer service and reading of the encouraging notes from the Rector Major, the moderator of the General Chapter 27 and the Regional Superior of South Asia marked the inaugural post-lunch session.  The formal opening of the Chapter also comprised of declaring the Chapter open by the Provincial, the election of two scrutineers, a time-keeper, the reading of the rules and regulations, confirming the earlier agreed commissions (groups for detailed discussion on specific themes of the Chapter) and finalisation of the schedule.

The presentation of the detailed report - running to 39 pages - on the state of the Province by Fr Raminedi Balaraju, the Provincial, and the financial situations of the Province by Fr Puthussery Sojan, the Economer, took up the evening session, prior to supper.
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