Fr Michael Fernandes, provincial, and Fr Ajoy Fernandes, vice provincial, are currently in Nashik for the annual "Team Visit". This evening they are in STI; tomorrow morning in Divyadaan; and tomorrow evening in Don Bosco. Fr Elson Barretto, provincial economer, was unable to come for reasons of health.
Bro Alex Gonsalves, SDB, gave a talk to the Don Bosco school assembly this morning. He spoke about his 24 years of work in Ahmednagar. In 24 years, he and BGVK were able to carry out watershed projects in 22 villages of the taluka. Where formerly people were with difficulty getting one crop, now they are able to get three crops in a year. The average village income has gone up many times. Bro. Alex invited the school kids to do their little part for ecology: growing trees in little plastic bags, planting them where they could, using water sparingly, recycling waste water, etc.
Bro Alex was given the Indira Priyadarshini national award, and the Vanashri Maharastra state government award for his work.
A DVD of his work is available: it records the transformation of Dongargan, a village that is famous for its Sitechi Nhani and its ancient tamarind trees.
The Don Bosco school, boarding, technical school, parish, and development work at Narukot near Jambughoda in the Panchmahals District of Gujarat. Land gifted to us by Mr Piloo Mody. Wonderful place in the forest. Utterly beautiful scenes in the hills around.
Our Bro. Ajay Shelke did a year of practical training at Narukot...
I have always been saying that we ought to communicate more with our parishioners. How many of our parishioners know about the works of the Salesian province of Mumbai, for example? or of the works of the FMA, and the UMI, and the FHIC?
Here is a small start: Salesians in the Gujarat region. I say Gujarat region, because the houses spill over into neighbouring Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
I have just put up a blog entry about Suket in South Rajasthan, so that is more or less seen to.
In the state of Gujarat we have: a parish, school, neighbourhood classes, and work for street boys at Baroda; boardings, schools, parishes and development works at Narukot, Chhota Udepur, Kawant, Tanakhla, Dakor; an aspirantate, parish, catechetical centre and development work at Kapadvanj. The people in all the places apart from Dakor are adivasis belonging to the Rathwa tribe, also known as Bhilalas.
In Madhya Pradesh we have a boarding, school, technical school, parish and development work at Alirajpur, and a hostel for school youth at Jhabua. The people here are adivasis belonging mostly to the Bhilala and Bhil tribes.
Some views of Don Bosco Suket - the school, the parish residence, the children. The Mission Fete 2009 collection of Rs 50,000 was sent to Don Bosco Suket. Fr Paul Antao, the Parish Priest and Manager of the school, has established three scholarships with the money: two of Rs 15,000 and one of Rs 20,000. The Hindi medium unaided school was up to Std VII; it was recently expanded to Std X. It used to be an aided school once; the people running it at that time thought that it was too much trouble to stay aided, and so voluntarily gave up the aid. It would be an uphill task now to get the aid back. The fees are Rs 50 a month, so the difficulties of running the school can be well imagined. Apart from the financial aspect, there is the difficulty also of finding good teachers.
St Michael's Parish, Salawad, Suket, has a small group of 1,400 parishioners largely clustered around the parish church. The men folk mostly work in the Kota stone quarries that abound in the place. They also cultivate the fields, which were gifted to the church and its people by some past ruler of the place.
We have 2 young men here in Nashik from Suket: Salesian novice Prince Bundla at STI, and Bro Clement Mathera at Divyadaan. The parish has given several priests and religious to the church, including a Salesian from another province, Edward Sacrawat. Lack of educational opportunities has, however, affected the fortunes of this hardy group of people in the southern tip of Rajasthan. With the upgrading of the school, there are hopes of returning to past glory, when Suket, with its school and boarding, used to be one of the well-known places for education in the Church of North India.
The Salesian pioneers of this mission were Frs Elson Barretto (now Provincial Economer) and Matthew Katara. Fr Paul Antao, the present parish priest, used to be administrator and teacher at Divyadaan.
Don't miss the blue skies of Suket - I have seen such blue only in the Italian skies! The famous Italian - or Mediterranean azurro... The climate is extreme: bitterly cold in winter, horribly hot and dry in summer. But you can't deny the beauty of the place.
The French Capuchin pioneers were of course creative: it is said that they had an underground pool beneath the Outhouse, where they could sit in the water during the summer. Sadly in disuse now, the pool must be full of snakes and things. Waiting for some enterprising Salesian missionary to clean up the place and revive old ways! Perhaps some future lad from Nashik....
For more photos, feel free to look up my albums on Facebook.
5 youth turned up for the meeting this morning: Nikhil, Kenneth, Sophia D'Souza (new), Sushma and Suryakant. Rephan turned up towards the end. Delvin and Mellita were held up by their tests (tuition classes). Bro. Rickson was there of course.
The scripture input was about the Call Narratives: we compared the Call of the Disciples in the four gospels, and found that St John's account was significantly different. However, nothing to get panicky about: the four gospels are like four photographs of Jesus, all taken by people who loved Jesus and were fascinated by him. The sessions ended with 5 minutes of prayerful silence.
1. Communication circles. Suryakant has drawn up two circles, one with those who are regular for meetings, the other for those who are not. However, it was decided that he would also launch free SMSs to all. Besides, Nikhil agreed to begin a Facebook community called "Don Bosco Youth Group, Nashik". I offered to give him an updated list of youth.
2. I informed the group that I had written to Bishop Lourdes Daniel about the proposals of the Interparish Youth Leaders meeting, and that I was awaiting a reply. Copies had been sent to the Parish Priests and youth animators / leaders.
3. Suryakant said that 3 of them had met on Tuesday. They had planned for the Academy item as well as for the Mass Animation.
4. Calendar of our group for the year:
1 Aug: Outing to Satpur: 0830 mass followed by meeting with Satpur youth
15 Aug: Item for the Marian Academy
22 Aug: Interparish Youth Animation at Holy Cross.
29 Aug: Mass Animation
10 Oct: Interparish Outing to Swami Shilananda's Ashram, Sinnar. Organizers: Don Bosco Youth
17 Oct: Mission Fete
31 Oct: Mass animation
7 Nov: Interparish Football and Throwball Tournament.
16 Dec onwards: Carol Singing
29 Dec: Interparish Youth Christmas Get-together
9 Jan: Interparish Youth Animation, Igatpuri
29 Jan: Item for Don Bosco's Academy
30 Jan: Parish Feast of Don Bosco, mass animation
13 Mar: Interparish Youth Recollection at St Patrick's. Organizers: Don Bosco Youth
Lent: animation of one Friday way of the Cross
Good Friday: animation of one Station of the Way of the Cross
Pity we could not agree on a common date for an overnight picnic - perhaps to Lonavla, or if not, to Karjat. For Lonavla, if we want to go to Don Bosco, we will have to find time during the Diwali vacations. Otherwise there are the Jesuit holiday houses like Stanislaus Villa, Lonavla, or perhaps St Mary's Villa if that is still functioning... In Karjat we have a new building at Don Bosco's, with a large campus that includes a little hill... and perhaps the facility of a resort run by a parishioner from Wadala West.
The PTA meetings of primary and secondary schools (Don Bosco) concluded this morning, with the parents and teachers passing the proposal for a raise in fees so that the 6th Pay Commission might be at least partially implemented.
Fr Diego also communicated to the body about the recent pressure from some private TV channel to dismiss two teachers who have been recently employed, on the grounds that they had not completed their internship.
The DB church has acquired new furniture and a new washbasin in the sacristy, together with new vestments, sacred vessels, etc.
The sanctuary sports two images of Our Lady - in addition to the statue of Mary Help of Christians that was already there. Not too happy with the aesthetics as well as the theology... I know there is a non-linear theology of church spaces, but probably we have moved beyond that - or at least we might have to completely redesign our churches to integrate once more a non-linear catechesis and praying space.
In the meantime, the painting of the parish cum residence is moving to a completion.
Ajay, Rickson and Velasli are back - a bit tired and shaken, but otherwise fine, except for Ajay who has a fracture on his nose, which will need time and rest for healing. Fr Nelson went down to Andheri to get them back, after making sure that the B.Ed. admissions were done. Thanks very much to him for all the trouble.
Our warmest thanks also to Fr Joaquim Fernandes, Fr Bosco D'Mello, and Mr Nazareth Denis who drove to Bhivandi all the way from Mumbai in the night to pick up our brothers, and take them to the hospital at Andheri. Thanks also to Fr Godfrey D'Souza and Edwin Colaco and the community of Dominic Savio Andheri for taking care of our brothers.
Our three brothers Ajay, Rickson and Velasli were travelling back to Nashik last night by bus, when their bus braked very sudddenly. A few passengers were injured, including Ajay. They were taken to the Indira Gandhi Civil Hospital, Bhivandi. The police were recommending not to make an FIR. In the end, some Salesian priests and personnel from Provincial House were able to reach Bhivandi and transfer the brothers to Andheri.
It is not clear yet whether Ajay has been admitted to Holy Spirit. From what I hear, all 3 brothers are resting in the Province Infirmary at Dominic Savio, Andheri.
Ajay and Velasli are due to finalize their admissions to the B.Ed. course this morning. Fr Nelson is trying to ensure that, and then he will move to Mumbai to see the brothers.
Your prayers are requested.
Update, 1100 hrs: Just spoke to the brothers. Ajay seems okay. He is going to the doctor at Holy Spirit once again just now, perhaps he might need a minor surgery. Fr Nelson is at the College seeing to the admissions, and will move to Mumbai after that.
6 people turned up for the Youth Group meeting: Kenneth Noronha, Nikhil John, Sushma Shrivastwa, Suryakant Shrivastwa, Delia Fernandes, and Tina Thomas. We had lectio divina on the gospel of the day: Martha and Mary. After the reading, we kept 5 minutes of silence, and then shared what happened during that time. Then time for questions on the text.
Accounts of the picnic were presented: it was decided to keep the balance for future activities.
A report of the Interparish Planning for Common Events meeting was given.
We discussed a bit about the mass animation and academy item. Bro Rickson will find a new hymn to learn. On Tuesday, at 1930, there will be a practice for the academy item.
Elections will be held when the group is somewhat more stable.
Suryakant was asked to drawn up two telephone 'chains'.
The Don Bosco Parish, Nashik blog is now Don Bosco Parish and School, Nashik. (We have been recommended to have a blog for the institution, so... this is an experiment.) With the new title goes a new photo of the building - freshly painted and bright.
We had an informal meeting of youth leaders and animators from the 5 city parishes (that includes Igatpuri), to plan common activities for the year. The following were suggested:
22 Aug: Animation Program. Suggested venue: Holy Cross. In charge: Holy Cross and St Ann's.
10 Oct: Outing to Swami Shilananda's Ashram, Sinner. In charge: Don Bosco.
7 Nov: Football and Throwball Tournament. Suggested venue: Divyadaan. In charge: St Patrick's.
29 Dec: Youth Get-Together. Suggested venue: Divyadaan. In charge: St Ann's.
9 Jan: Animation Program. Venue: Igatpuri. In charge: Igatpuri.
13 Mar: Lenten recollection. Venue: St Patrick's. In Charge: Don Bosco.
I informed Fr Anton D'Souza (Divyadaan) about the meeting a bit late: he is out of town at the moment. He is the Diocesan Youth Coordinator, and it would have been good to have him around, especially now that he is based here in Nashik.
The youth and animators were urged to be in constant communication with their Parish Priests and Priests in charge.
A letter will soon be sent out to Bishop Lourdes Daniel, Fr Anton D'Souza, Parish Priests and Priests in charge.
Wonderful day at Igatpuri for the youth group. There were 12 of us, including Bro Rickson and me, which means 10 youth. Not many, but good enough. And good fun. Fr Ashley was kind enough to drop some of us at Mahamarg, and we hopped into a battered Kasara ST that was already on its way out. We were at Igatpuri phata by nine-ish, then the little walk through green paddy fields to Golden Resort, nestling in the crook of the hills along a sparkling stream. But we were in for a disappointment: the boss who happened to be in attendance said there was no more Rs 50 per head entrance to the pool; take the whole day package of Rs 300 or leave it, he said. We decided to leave it. After a little attempt to explore the stream, we decided to get to Igatpuri, park at the parish, celebrate mass, and then go to the falls.
We reached the parish more or less dry, after one of the proverbial showers of Igatpuri. Mass at around 1200 after hanging around a bit (we reached when the 1000 mass was going on). Hot samosas very kindly ordered by Fr Santiago, the young Dominican parish priest. Then to the waterfalls behind Satyagiri: full and overflowing thanks to the strong shower after mass. Ryan and Adrian from the Igatpuri youth group joined us and showed us how to get right above the main waterfall. Bit of a climb, but not difficult. The view was breathtaking, the water pure and clear. Great fun and great pictures. Far better than anything Golden Resort could have offered. The best things in life are still free, thank God! Fresh air, great rain, falling water, astounding greenery....
Lunch at 1600, and then the shuttle back to Nashik at 1810. (Only, platform 4 at Igatpuri is about the filthiest I have seen. Awful, really, the stench of rotting stuff. Strengthened my resolve never to throw anything out of the train window... but then, where to throw it?) Great ride back in the shuttle (which should be called rattle, but I really enjoyed the noise), with Cardinal's Hat moving all around the train in queer ways....
Thanks to Nikhil, the chief organizer, who really went out of his way, and very efficiently too; and to Sushma, and the whole gang that turned up.
The Haiti Collection has come to Rs 42,000 which has been sent to the Salesian Rector Major through the Maschio Memorial Foundation, Matunga, Mumbai.
The Mission Sunday Fete Collection 2009 came to Rs 50,000, which has been sent to the Salesian school at Mikhelpura-Salawad, Suket (Rajasthan) with the purpose of establishing scholarships for students of Stds X and XII.
The Marian Academy will be held after mass on Sunday, 15 August 2010. Rehearsal will be at 1600 hours on Thursday, 12 August 2010. Bro Velasli Bandya and the Catechism children have taken charge. Zones are invited to give their items to Bro Velasli asap.