In the 365 days between 28 February 2005, when the Rector Major flagged off the centenary celebrations in New Delhi, and 27 February 2006, when the Government of India issued the Don Bosco Centenary commemorative stamp in Chennai (the last national-level centenary event), Salesians in South Asia witnessed some of the most memorable events in the annals of the Congregation in the region. It was indeed a year of grand celebrations, punctuated by programmes of varied nature – spiritual, intellectual, cultural and celebratory – involving confreres in every province. These events and celebrations brought together confreres from the entire region of South Asia at various moments and in different locations, in the true Salesian spirit of joyful sharing and brotherly solidarity.
Some of the highpoints in the yearlong celebration were the Solemn Inauguration of the centenary year in New Delhi by the Rector Major Fr. Pascual Chávez (28 Feb 2005), the three Centenary Retreats, the Research Seminars on the five sectors of our mission (Education, Social Involvement, Evangelization & Catechesis, Salesian Life and Social Communications), the Final Seminar on the Life and Mission of the Salesians in the emerging third millennium, the Cooperators’ Centenary celebration (14-16 January 2006) and the grand Concluding Function of the Centenary at Thanjavur in the presence of the Rector Major (05 February 2006). Besides these, in each province (and in many individual communities, too) there were celebrations to mark the 100 years of Salesian presence in India. A brief report on these important events are given below.
The SPCSA started planning for the celebration of the centenary of the arrival of the first group Salesian missionaries in India during its meeting at Tiruchy in September 2002. A national level Centenary Celebrations Executive Committee was appointed, which drew up a detailed plan that was approved by the SPCSA at its meeting in February 2003.
As part of the spiritual preparation, the following three themes were selected for animation and celebration during the three years preceding 2006. The responsibility of preparing the materials were assigned to various provinces as shown below:
2003: Salesians as Builders of communion (INB, INN & INH)
2004: Salesians as Animators of the Young (INK, INT & INM)
2005: Salesians as Missionaries (ING, IND & INC)
Inaugural Function in New Delhi
The Rector Major, Fr. Pascual V. Chávez, inaugurated the yearlong centenary celebrations of the presence of the Salesians of Don Bosco in India with a solemn thanksgiving Eucharist at New Delhi on 28 February 2005, calling the hundred years of Salesian presence in India ‘an epic saga’.
The Rector Major thanked India for opening its doors to the sons of Don Bosco and for welcoming them. The Rector Major said he wanted to be present with the Salesians in India at the opening of the centenary celebrations in order to “contemplate the past with gratitude, to face the present with trust, and to plan the future with courage.”
Commenting on the amazing growth of Don Bosco’s charism in India, Fr Chávez said, ‘the Congregation today has an Indian face’. He pointed out that India is the country with the second largest number of Salesians and the fastest growing in the Salesian world.
The Rector Major recalled the memory of the hundreds of Salesian pioneers who came to India from various parts of the world. He also paid tribute to the fidelity of many generations of Indian Salesians to Don Bosco and his charism, to their missionary zeal and their contribution to inculturation.
The Rector Major said he dreamt of a Salesian India which would take up in earnest the challenges of inculturation, its missionary vocation, national integration, its commitment to transform the nation, as Don Bosco did, starting with the poorest youth.
Speaking at the public function marking the centenary of Salesian presence in India at Don Bosco School, Alaknanda, on 3 March, the Rector Major urged parents, educators and Salesians to give young people genuine values that will make them capable of living with dignity. “The young people today are undergoing radical changes and they need help to find the path to happiness, life, and love,” he said.
Students from various Salesian institutions in Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand and Orissa gave a scintillating display of cultural dances during the programme that was aptly titled “An Odyssey with the Young”, celebrating the 100 years of Don Bosco in India. The performance delighted the audience, among whom were civil and church dignitaries, Salesian Provincials of South Asia and their councillors.
The Rector Major said the Salesians in India would continue their commitment to education and promotion of youth values, culture and development. He urged everyone to believe in the power of youth and see the rich resource the youth in India are.
Regional Councillor for South Asia, Fr. Joaquim D’Souza, said Don Bosco’s charism in India grew like a mustard seed. Today South Asia region has 2488 Salesians working in numerous centres, and 146 novices, he said.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) President Telesphore Cardinal Toppo, in a message for the occasion (read by CBCI Deputy Secretary Fr Donald D’Souza), said, “The Church in India has benefited tremendously through your mission of loving and sharing the life of the youth.” Congratulating the Salesians, the Cardinal said, “Your Congregation has maintained its distinct charism, the identity of love in action for the youth of our nation.”
History of Salesians in India
The Rector Major released a two-volume book tilted A History of the Salesians of Don Bosco in India during the public function at Don Bosco, Alaknanda. The two volumes containing more than 1400 pages are authored by renowned historian and former president of the Church History Association of India, Fr. Joseph Thekkedath SDB and is published by Kristu Jyoti Publications, Bangalore.
The work was commissioned by the Salesian Provincial Conference of India twelve years ago in view of the first centenary, and is based on primary sources and involved research in 24 archives in India and abroad. The book covers a period of nearly fifty years from the beginning of the Salesian presence in Tanjore in South India in 1906 to 1951-52.
Fr. Dominic Veliath SDB, Professor of Systematic Theology and Member of the International Theological Commission, said, “a work of this sort calls for unusual gifts in an author: the talent for analysis and synthesis, and a dedication to historical research which is satisfied with nothing less than integrity.” Fr. Thekkedath, he said, with his years of experience in primary historical research, was the most competent person to undertake such a monumental work.
In his foreword to the book Fr. Dominic Veliath sums up the relevance and timeliness of this monumental work: Amid the many festal expressions which the centenary may occasion, it certainly calls for the celebration of the “sacrament of memory”. And that precisely is what the Salesian Congregation has done by commissioning, publishing and releasing this volume on her own history in the Indian subcontinent.
Centenary Research Seminars
The idea of holding a Centenary Research Seminar on the Life and Mission of the Salesians in the Emerging South Asia of the Third Millennium was proposed by Kristu Jyoti College, Bangalore. The SPCSA accepted the proposal at its meeting held in Sri Lanka in August 2003. A Coordinating Committee headed by Fr Paul Puthanangady was set up, with representatives from each of the provinces, to execute the proposal. The main objective of the seminar was to evaluate the past and to plan for the future, while keeping its focus on the Salesian who will effectively fulfil the mission of the Congregation as we enter the second century of our presence in this region.
The methodology adopted was as follows: Five significant areas of our life and mission were selected for study and research, namely: Education, Evangelization & Catechesis, Social Involvement, Social Communications, and Salesian Life. As a first step, each province was asked to make an in-depth study of these areas, taking into account the past, the present and the future. This was followed by a national level research seminar of three days’ duration on each of these areas. These seminars were held in different places during the years 2004-2005: Education (18-20 November 2004 at Mumbai), Social Involvement (17-19 January 2005 at Chennai), Faith Formation and Evangelization (6-8 April 2005 at New Delhi), Salesian Religious Life (8-10 July 2005 at Tiruchy), and Social Communications (18-20 October 2005 at Guwahati). They were a preparation for the Final Seminar held at Kristu Jyoti College, Bangalore, from 1-5 January 2006.
Some 130 Salesians from the nine provinces and three vice-provinces of South Asia took part in the 5-day Final Seminar at Kristu Jyoti College, Bangalore. Fr Joaquim D’Souza, Regional for South Asia, presided over the inaugural Eucharist and preached the homily. Fr Francis Alencherry, General Councillor for Missions, gave the inaugural address. Most Rev. Bernard Moras, Archbishop of Bangalore, felicitated the gathering. Fr. Joseph Thekkedath, eminent historian and author of the two-volume History of the Salesians in India, in his keynote address, took the participants through a guided tour of the 100 years of Salesian history, highlighting the significant events, initiatives and persons connected with the phenomenal growth of the Salesian mission in South Asia from 1906 to the present.
Besides the papers on the five areas of Salesian life and mission, namely: Faith Formation (Fr Cyril de Souza), Education (Fr. P. P. George), Social involvement (Fr Jose Maliekal), Communication Media (Fr Peter Gonsalves), and Salesian Life (Fr Thomas Ellicherail), there were six other papers in the form of reflections on Salesian Life and Mission Today. They included two papers on “A Refocusing of Salesian Charism at the service of the Youth of South Asia Today” by Fr. Jose Chunkapura and Fr Dominic Veliath; and two papers on “A New Understanding of Evangelization in the context of the socio-politico-economical and religio-cultural context of South Asia” by Fr Thomas Pallithanam and Fr Paul Vadakumpaden; and two papers on “Salesian Formation in South Asia Today” by Fr Stanislaus Swamikannu and Bro. Abraham Vazhamplackal. Two non-Salesians spoke on Salesian Mission as seen from a non-Salesian Perspective, namely, Fr. S. J. Anthonisamy from Chennai, and Mr Josantony from Mumbai. Four Salesians of different age-groups, spoke on how they envisage Salesian South Asia in the Third Millennium.
Two workshops -- one focusing on the five priority areas Salesians of South Asia need to attend to, and the other, on the five directive principles that Salesians in South Asia should adopt in the second century of their presence in this region -- brought to a close the five days of intense research and reflection. The FINAL STATEMNT of the seminar called upon the Salesians of South Asia to be one, bold and faithful as they step into the second century of their presence in South Asia. One: one among ourselves, one with the Church, one with all the provinces of South Asia, with the Congregation and with our lay collaborators and the poor. Bold: to boldly continue to trust God, Don Bosco’s method, and the goodness of people. Faithful: faithful to Christ’s teaching and example, to Don Bosco’s charism, to God’s invitation coming to us through the needs of people.
The Final Statements of the five Sectoral Seminars, and the proceedings, papers, and the findings of the Final Seminar are now available in a 424-page volume titled “Research Seminar on the Life and Mission of the Salesians in the Emerging South Asia”, edited by Fr Paul Puthanangady and published by Kristu Jyoti Publications.
Among the many celebrations connected with the Centenary, the “centenary retreats” deserve special mention. There were three of them – one for those in temporary vows (21-27 August 2005), another for perpetually professed (29 Aug - 4 Sept 2005), and the last one for senior confreres (30 Jan- 5 Feb 2006). The first two were held at Don Bosco Provincial House, Hyderabad. The last one was at the Retreat Centre in Velankanni.
All the three retreats were animated by Fr. Loddy Pires, superior of the Vice Province of the Konkan. The first two retreats were attended by confreres from India alone, while the third one had confreres from Myanmar, East Africa, South Africa and Yemen. In all, 155 confreres took part in these retreats.
The retreats were aimed at personal renewal through a deep conviction of our call to holiness. Sharing of experiences during the Good Night talk fostered a sense of unity and solidarity. All the groups expressed the desire to have more of such joint spiritual exercises.
The Retreat Master guided the participants through the meditations, conferences, homilies, reflections and personal chats. Dwelling on the unconditional love of God for each of us and acknowledging Jesus as their personal Saviour, every retreatant was invited to pray without a “mask”, knowing that God loves him. The Retreat Master felt that the participants took the retreats very seriously and manifested a great spirit of prayer throughout.
The SPCSA is deeply grateful to Fr Loddy Pires for rendering his competent service in leading so many of our confreres to a centenary spiritual experience. Special thanks are also due to the Provincial and confreres of the Provincial Houses of Hyderabad and Tiruchy, as well as Frs. Rajanna Kondaveeti, Saju Mullasseril of INH and Frs. Thommai Rajan, Marcel Lincoln and George Arokaiaraj of INT, who saw to the logistics of the retreats.
Other Centenary Initiatives
The Salesian Brother
‘Zatti’, a video film on the life of Blessed Artemide Zatti, and a sequel titled ‘Be a Brother,’ highlighting various aspects of the Salesian Brother’s life, with the idea of promoting Brother-vocations, was produced by Bro. Gregory Chinnabthuni of INH. They were directed by Fr Rajkumar of DBICA (Chennai). The video was released by Fr. Joaquim D’Souza, Regional of South Asia, during the SPCSA meeting in Bangalore on 15 September 2005.
“Lord I Believe. Increase My Faith” is the title of a book containing the findings of an all-India empirical research on the quality and depth of the faith of young Catholics. It is authored by Fr Cyril de Souza SDR and Mr Josantony Joseph of Mumbai. The research was a centenary project undertaken by the Province of Mumbai. The book, published by Tejprasarini of Mumbai, was released during the National Seminar in Bangalore on 4 January 2006.
The primary scope of this research was to give youth ministers in India a better and more down-to-earth understanding of the way Indian Catholic youth allow their faith to influence their daily living.
The Cooperators’ Centenary
Fr. George Tomatis, leader of the first group of Salesians who came to India, started the Association of Salesian Cooperators in India on 4 February 1906 – just 21 days after he and his companions arrived there. On that memorable day, 40 heads of families enrolled themselves as Salesian Cooperators. Fr. Tomatis presided over the simple ceremony during which he spoke to them about the Salesian Congregation and the meaning and scope of the Association of Salesian Cooperators (ASC). His talk, in French, was translated into Tamil by the local parish priest, Fr. Xavier Coelho. Thereafter, Fr. Tomatis diligently transcribed the names of the 40 new Cooperators and sent the list to Bl. Michael Rua, the then Rector Major. In course of time, the Association spread to all parts of the country along with the SDBs and FMAs.
The centenary celebrations of the ASC which took place on 14-16 January 2006 at Don Bosco, Thanjavur, was a grand success through the cooperation of all the provinces of India. Some 600 Cooperators from the different provinces of India took part in the three-day event. The chief guest was Fr. Stjepan Bolkovac SDB, World Delegate of the Cooperators, representing the Vicar of the Rector Major.
Rev. Fr. Stanislaus Swamikannu, Provincial of Chennai, delivered the inaugural address. The SDB provincials of Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Tiruchy, and the FMA provincial of Chennai participated.
The most memorable moment of the whole celebration was the promise-taking ceremony of 124 new Cooperators during the solemn Eucharistic celebration on 14 January. Fr. Amalraj Susai, Provincial of Tiruchy, presided over the Eucharist, while Rev. Fr. John Berger, Provincial of Kolkata, gave the homily. Rev. Fr. Stjepan Bolkovac gave each new member a special medal which he had brought form Rome. Most Rev. Dr. Ambrose Devadass, Bishop of Thanjavur, presided over the solemn Eucharistic celebration on the second day and delivered the homily.
Another highlight of the celebrations was the Centenary Quiz on RAL. The participants (two from each province) were the winners of their respective province level competitions. It was a well-fought contest, where the participants vied with each other to show their knowledge of RAL. The celebrations also included a day of seminar where the cooperators were helped to reflect on the vocation and mission of the Cooperator in India today.
The celebrations came to a solemn end on Monday 16 January 2006 with the Pontifical Mass at the historic Basilica of Our Lady at Velankanni, presided over by Msgr. A. M. Chinnappa SDB, archbishop of Madras-Mylapore.
A Centenary Souvenir containing the history of the Cooperators in India and other articles related to the Cooperators’ movement was brought out on the occasion. The Souvenir was also a means for raising funds through advertisements, collected by the Cooperators from all the provinces.
Concluding Function at Thanjavur
February 5, 2006 was an unforgettable day for Salesians in South Asia, a day of memories and thanksgiving, a day of celebration and rededication, a day of great rejoicing and Salesian family spirit. The more than 500 SDBs and numerous members of the Salesian Family, united around the Rector Major, made it unquestionably the largest ever gathering of Salesians in South Asia to date. Indeed, a grand finale to the yearlong celebrations of the centenary of Salesian presence in India!
The grand concluding Eucharist was preceded by a colourful reception to the Rector Major who, on arriving at the gate, was garlanded by a caparisoned elephant and driven in a royal carriage accompanied by the concelebrating bishops and provincials to the venue of the Eucharistic celebration. In a moving gesture the Rector Major prostrated himself and kissed the ground hallowed by the love, toil and sacrifices of all the valiant Salesian missionaries who came to Thanjavur a hundred years ago, and to other parts of India, in subsequent years.
In the evening of 5 February Fr Chávez presided over the Centenary Eucharist at Thanjavur, which he aptly christened ‘India’s Becchi’, in the presence of a huge gathering of 7500 people which included 5000 youngsters, 500 Salesians from the provinces and vice-provinces of South Asia, numerous members of the Salesian Family, and collaborators and friends of Don Bosco in India. Over 275 priests, including three Salesian bishops, concelebrated with the Rector Major on a huge podium in the sprawling grounds of Don Bosco School in Thanjavur. During the two-hour long, emotion-filled ceremony, 24 Salesians from the nine provinces and one vice-province of India who had volunteered for Salesian missions worldwide were given the missionary cross by the Rector Major.
Delivering his homily at the very place where, a hundred years ago, the Salesians started their work, the Rector Major exhorted the Salesians to ‘return to the sources of our charism, our mission, our spirituality,’ and to become ever more effective in the field of human development, evangelisation and education and to discover new ways of fighting evil, like Don Bosco who reacted energetically to the difficult and complex situation of the young in his times. (see p. 47 for text of the homily)
After Communion, the Rector Major led the Salesians present in Thanjavur, united with all the Salesian communities of South Asia, in making a solemn Act of Entrustment on the Occasion of the Centenary.
Soon after the Eucharistic celebration, there was a grand public reception to the Rector Major at which all the 18 bishops of Tamil Nadu were present. Archbishop Peter Fernando of Madurai spoke on behalf of the Bishops of Tamil Nadu, felicitating the Rector Major and congratulating the Salesians of South Asia on the occasion of the centenary. Bishop Joseph Gomes SDB of Krishnagar spoke on behalf of the Salesian Bishops of India. In his concluding address, after paying tribute to the great pioneers, the Rector Major shared his dream for Salesian India (see page 83 for the text). He concluded his address saying, “We have written golden pages in the century that has passed ... but the best pages are still to be written.” The rapturous dances performed by various groups were a delight both for the eyes and the ears.
Missionaries from India
The first batch of Salesian missionaries who came to Thanjavur a hundred years ago consisted of three priests, a scholastic, a brother and an aspirant. Celebrating that event one hundred years later in the same place, one could not miss the touching symbolism of the moment when 24 young Indian Salesians -- including priests, scholastics and Brothers—lined up at the altar, offering themselves generously to the Rector Major to work for Salesian mission anywhere in the world. “In this way,” said Fr. Joaquim D’Souza, “we repay to some extent the immense debt we owe to the 450 or so missionaries who came to India from Europe and the Americas during the past 100 years.”
These confreres received the missionary cross from the Rector Major during the solemn Eucharistic celebration in the presence of hundreds of Salesians and several thousand youngsters. Fr. Francis Alencherry, General Councillor for the Missions, presented them to the assembly and announced the destination assigned to each of them -- to Papua New Guinea-Solomon Islands and Sudan eight each, to Hungary two, to South Africa, Zambia, Ethiopia, Angola, and Sri Lanka, one each. The Rector Major said India has now a historic responsibility to give back to the world what they received from others. Don Bosco’s charism was planted and nurtured on this soil by the courageous and self-sacrificing efforts of the missionaries. Now it was India’s turn to give it back to the world. He called on the Salesians of India to take Don Bosco to all parts of the world.
The following are the names of the centenary missionaries from India. Cl Misquitta Claudius (INB)
Cl Parmar Sudhir (INB)
Cl Fernandes Ignatius (INB)
Fr Kachira Dominic (INC)
Br Toppo Raju (INC)
Cl Mattappallil Jophin George (INC)
Cl Chemmarappallil Shyjan (IND)
Cl Kachappilly Jojo (IND)
Br Basumathary Martin (ING)
Fr Panna Andreas (ING)
Fr Swer Albert (ING)
Fr Manjooran Simon (INH)
Cl Tulimelli David (INH)
Fr Parappilly Robinson (INK)
Cl Pattasseril Abraham (INK)
Cl Vadakkan Lijo (INK)
Fr Kabilai Vincent (INM)
Fr Paulraj Johnson (INM)
Cl Balasamy Philip Louie (INM)
Cl Fernandes Remington (INN)
Fr Xalxo Pankaj (INN)
Cl Dias Jacinto (INP)
Fr Arulnathan Felix (INT)
Fr Joseph Daniel (INT)
Commemorative Stamp on Don Bosco Centenary
The last national event in connection with the Centenary of Salesian Presence in India was the releasing of the Postage Stamp. On 27 February 2006, the Government of India issued a postage stamp to commemorate the 100 years of Don Bosco in India (1906-2006). The stamp was released by Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Shri Dayanidhi Maran, a past pupil of Don Bosco, during a special function at the Don Bosco Matriculation School auditorium in Chennai. The archbishop of Madras-Myalapore, Most Rev. Dr. A. M. Chinnappa SDB, received the first stamp from the Minister. The Rs. 5.00 denomination stamp carries a reproduction of an original photograph of Don Bosco with the words “Don Bosco Salesians in India 100 years.”
Releasing the stamp, the Hon’ble Minister paid rich tributes to Don Bosco and the Salesian educational system. “Don Bosco was a visionary and a leader,” he said, “and he was able to give a new direction to society through education. Don Bosco’s Preventive System of education prevents students from becoming bad and thus ensures the good of society.”
The minister told the gathering how delighted he was to be back in the school where he had spent 12 years of his youth. He recalled his student years with nostalgia and interacted with the members of the teaching and non-teaching staff, many of whom he knew by name.
Fr. Stanislaus Swamikannu, Provincial of Chennai, thanked the Government for the honour bestowed on Don Bosco institutions in the country by issuing the stamp. Today our happiness is doubled, he said, because a Don Bosco past pupil is releasing a commemorative stamp on Don Bosco. The releasing of the stamp, he said, is a fitting tribute to the hard work and selfless service rendered by Don Bosco institutions across the country in the last 100 years. Salesian work in India started with an elementary school and an orphanage under a thatched shed in 1906 in Tanjore. Today, a hundred years later, there are 497 Don Bosco educational institutions spread across 26 States and 3 Union Territories of India, he said.
Fr. Amalraj Susai, Provincial of Tiruchy, and Sr. Mary Ann Fernando, FMA Provincial of Chennai, spoke on the occasion.
The First Day Cover shows the photograph of the laying of the foundation stone for the first Salesian House in India at Tanjore in 1906. The cancellation, designed by the Postal Department, showing a burning candle and books, is a clear pointer to the educative mission of the Salesians.
An information brochure released by the Department of Posts on the occasion speaks of Don Bosco and the establishment of the Salesians Society in 1859 and that of the FMA in 1872 and the arrival of the first group of Salesians to India under the leadership of Fr. Tomatis in 1906 and the subsequent development of Salesian works in India.
This is the second time that the Government of India is honouring Don Bosco through a postage stamp. The first was on January 31, 1989 in New Delhi, to mark the conclusion of Don Bosco’s death centenary celebrations.
Media coverage of the Centenary
The visit of the Rector Major to North India and the inauguration of the centenary celebrations in New Delhi in 2005 were covered by Bosco Information Service (BIS) for the Salesian media and for several Catholic publications in India. BIS filed some 20 stories on the visit of the Rector Major to Kolkata, Dimapur, Guwahati and Delhi. However, everything did not go well as ANS had difficulties in receiving the stories and pictures initially. The inaugural celebration of the centenary in Delhi was reported in several Catholic publications in India, but for the secular media it was a non-event.
The concluding celebrations in Thanjavur and the visits of the RM to Sri Lanka, Chennai, Tiruchy, Bangalore and Hyderabad in February 2006 were also covered in detail by BIS for the Salesian media. Stories and pictures were placed on the donbsocoindia website daily.
In contrast to the poor coverage of the Delhi function, the secular press and TV channels in the South gave wide coverage to the visit of the Rector Major to South India and the concluding celebrations in Thanjavur on 5 February.
Local and national dailies carried news of the centenary and the arrival of the Rector Major before, during and after the events. On 3 February, The Hindu carried a front-page ad feature on the Salesians and their 100 years of service in India. The Indian Express (English) and Dinamani (Tamil) carried articles on Don Bosco, Salesian works in India, the Preventive System, etc. Mass circulation Tamil dailies like Dina Thanthi, Malai Malar, Dina Malar and a host of other local papers carried several stories and pictures of the centenary celebrations. To top it all, The Hindu carried a 4-page colour supplement on 4 February on the 100 years of Don Bosco in India, with write-ups on the Preventive System, the Strenna, and the Salesian Family.
On 5 February, in Thanjavur, the Rector Major addressed a press conference at which thirty journalists from print and electronic media were present. All the major newspapers and TV channels were represented. The concluding celebration was telecast live on Kiran TV, Win TV and AMN Cable. On 7 February, AMN carried a half-hour programme on the conclusion of the centenary for viewers in Chennai and Pondicherry.
In Chennai all the leading papers (The Hindu, The Indian Express, the Dinamani, the Dina Thanthi, etc) and several TV channels carried news and pictures of the centenary programmes, especially the mammoth youth rally, the Rector Major’s address to the youth at St. Bede’s grounds and the releasing of the Centenary Stamp.
In Banglaore, leading dailies like The Hindu (English), the Udaya Vani (Kannada) andthe Malayala Manorama (Malayalam) carried full-page colour supplements on Don Bosco, the Salesians in India and the centenary. News of the centenary celebrations and the Rector Major’s visit to Banglaore were carried by The Hindu and TheIndian Express.
The centenary celebrations in Mumbai also received good coverage from several papers in Mumbai. The Mumbai province prepared a special radio jingle for use on FM programmes on All India Radio. The Jingle was broadcast on AIR at various time slots. AIR covered the entire proceedings of the province-level centenary celebrations in Mumbai on 17 December 2005.
Among the leading Catholic publications in India, both The Examiner (Mumbai) and The New Leader (Chennai) brought out special issues on the Salesian Centenary. The Teenager (St Paul’s, Allahabad) ran a cover story on the Centenary in 2005. Several other Catholic publications like the Sathyadeepam (Cochin) and the Sunday Shalom (Calicut) carried stories on Don Bosco and the Centenary.
The extraordinary support of the press and TV channels during the days of the celebrations was a fitting tribute by the media to Don Bosco, the Communicator. The SPCSA thanks the Salesians and their collaborators who worked hard, often behind the scenes, in making the secular media take note of Don Bosco and his works in India. It was indeed a grand show.
Fr. Louis Kumpiluvelil