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Jubilee with Don Bosco at Purnea-Katihar
By Cl. Angelus Minj, SDB
Kolkata, Jul. 7. On 5th July 2011, at break of dawn, Don Bosco was already crossing the border of West Bengal into Bihar State, moving towards Katihar to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the commencement of the Salesian work in Katihar Parish.  Prior to that, he dropped in Don Bosco, Purnea where the confreres, the staff and the students gave him a warm welcome.
Don Bosco reached Purnea School at 8.30 AM.  The students were already in multi-coloured jerseys standing along the long veranda, leading Don Bosco to the hall, to the accompaniment of a melodious band.  The prayer session and the homage by the parents, students and the staff of the school lasted two hours.  Students and teachers from the nearby schools also paid tribute.

The Holy Eucharist at 11.00 AM was presided over by Bishop Angelus Kujur, the bishop of Purnea Diocese.  A number of diocesan priests also concelebrated. The function came to a close at 2.30 PM and Don Bosco moved on to the next presence at Katihar.

It was jubilee time at Katihar as Salesians came to Katihar Parish way back in July 1986. Don Bosco first visited the new Don Bosco School, where the boarders were already dressed for action.  They danced while Don Bosco ascended the steps of the school.  Prayer sessions were organized according to the various sodality groups, which wound up at 8.00 PM.

In the morning hours of 6th July, the students along with their parents paid homage to Don Bosco class wise, with flowers and symbols. As Don Bosco moved to Katihar Parish, the school children lined up all along the road, singing and clapping continuously till the vehicles departed from their sight.

Silver bells rang as Don Bosco entered Katihar Parish premises. Bishop Angelus Kujur welcomed Don Bosco with an arati and presentation of the garland. Moving further, everyone assembled in front of the new statue of Don Bosco, erected by the local parishioners, as a tribute to the Salesians, on the occasion of the silver jubilee of their presence in Katihar parish. The new statue of Don Bosco was blessed and installed by Fr. Thomas Ellicherail, the provincial amidst great jubilation.

The Holy Eucharist was held in a specially decorated pandal, which accommodated over 3000 people. The entrance procession was led by about 25 priests from the diocese.
During the introductory comment Bishop Angelus said, ''We rejoice with the Salesians who are celebrating the 25th year of their presence in Katihar parish along with the presence of Don Bosco in their midst. It is a rare privilege, to have Don Bosco with us, blessing each one of us.''

The two hour liturgy integrated with beautiful dances came to an end and the youngsters took charge of the stage.  Various dances were performed by the boarders and the students of various institutions. Special guest Dr. Shiba confirmed that medical facilities can be made available to the poor at very nominal rates. Fr. Francis Tirkey, the VG of the diocese recalled the work of the Salesians over the years and commented on the work of Fr. CT Xavier, the present parish priest.

Crowning it all, Fr. Provincial complimented and thanked the various parish priests and their assistants over the years namely, Fr. PK Jacob, the first Salesian parish priest, Fr. MC Joseph, and Fr. MC Cyriac as parish priests and Fr. TT Sebastian, Fr. VT Antony, Fr. EA Pius, Fr. CL George, Fr. PV Mathew Senior, Fr. PV Jose, Fr. Emil Ekka, Fr. Remesh Cherian, Fr. PV Mathew Junior, Fr. Yesu Raj, Fr. Shanti Soren, Fr. Karlus Murmu and Fr. Manoj Jose as assistant parish priests. After the cultural programme, public homage resumed. Lunch was served for all.

At 6.00 PM, after the long afternoon, Don Bosco moved to bless the Sisters of Mary Immaculate at Barmasia. The Sisters and the boarding children along with the children of Mother Teresa Centre gladly received Don Bosco, amidst songs and dance.

The vigil service has begun at SMI Convent and is going on throughout the night. At 4.00 AM Holy Eucharist will be celebrated, after which Don Bosco will move to Dumka in Jharkhand State.

Today, Katihar Parish has about 3000 Catholics spread out in 27 sub-stations. The boarding has 140 children and the parish boarding has 120 children. The SMIs look after 250 girls in their boarding.  The Missionary Sisters of Charity run the NIrmal Hriday Home for the destitute with 80 inmates and Shishu Bhavan with 60 children.

During the past 25 years, the parish has grown from 50 families to 500 families in Katihar and about 500 families in other three parishes, bifurcated from Katihar. Gopalpur was bifurcated in 1994, Baghela in 1997 and Bagwakhor in 2003. In 2009, the new mission station at Dumar was started.
During the jubilee year, we recall also the loving labour of Fr. Jesus Gimenez, SDB of happy memory, who was the parish priest of Purnea and was instrumental in building the Purnea Cathedral and developing the Purnea Diocese.
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