Thursday, February 15, 2007

GOA: Serve Abandoned Youth: Salesian Rector General

INDIA Visiting Salesian Chief Stresses Congregation's Role To Help Indian Youth

February 14, 2007
PANAJI, India (UCAN) -- The head of the Salesians of Don Bosco says his priests and cooperators in India should come together to better serve abandoned youth and to further the congregation's charism.

"We ought to work like a movement, to be visible in front of the Church, society, and to be credible as a single family," Rector Major Father Pascual Chavez Villanueva said on Feb. 7 in the western Indian state of Goa.

The Mexican-born priest was speaking to former students of Salesian institutions, cooperators and members of his Religious society who gathered in the state capital of Panaji, 1,910 kilometers southwest of New Delhi. Cooperators are lay men and women who assist the Salesians in their work, sharing the spirituality of the congregation but not professing formal vows.

The rector general, ninth successor of Saint John Bosco, arrived on Feb. 6. His two-day visit coincided with the conclusion of the Salesians' yearlong 60th-anniversary celebration of their arrival in Goa in 1946.

Father Chavez Villanueva said the Salesians and their cooperators should form a "synergy catering to the youth, poor and the abandoned." He also reiterated that the Salesian society is a spiritual and apostolic movement in which "we are called to be missioners and apostles of youth."

One of the challenges facing them is to enrich society with human values learned in Salesian schools and thus advance the Salesians' Christian identity. The rector major asked all branches of the Salesian family to come together "in the form of a tree" and chalk out a strategy for the benefit of youth.

Later, he addressed a group of novices and pre-novices and asked them to discover their own dreams and work toward realizing them. "If you have a vocation, you have enthusiasm, a mission to accomplish," he told them.

While addressing Salesian nuns, Father Chavez Villanueva stressed that everyone in the Salesian family has a duty to live and work the way the founder had shown.

At a press conference, the rector general said the Salesians plan to set up the country's first Catholic university in Guwahati, Assam state, the commercial hub of northeastern India.

On Feb. 8, Father George Quadros, rector of the Salesian provincial house in Goa, told UCA News the priests' leader also "challenged" them at a closed-door meeting to "stop being concerned about building structures" and focus more on building the personality of the youth they serve.

Father Quadros said their chief wants his men to follow Don Bosco's example, to give youth the best kind of education and prepare them to be skilled, competent and proactive members of society.

Students of various Salesian institutes welcomed Father Chavez Villanueva on his arrival. Amid full-throated cheering, they released colorful balloons and showered colored paper on the priest as his open jeep entered the Salesian complex in the capital, where the first Salesians set foot 60 years ago.
Reproduced by Konkani Catholics with permission from UCAN (

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