The Seminar on PASSING ON OF OUR MEMORY – Glimpses of Indian Salesian History, was held in Don Bosco Provinical House, Bangalore, June 24-26, 2016. The Seminar was held under the aegis of the premiere institute of history of the Congregation, the ISS (Istituto Storico Salesiano), Rome, and the mother body of ACSSA (Associazione Cultori di Storia Salesiana). Rev. Fr. Thomas Anchukandam sdb, the Director of ISS and member of the Executive Committee (Presidenza) of ACSSA represented both these institutions at the Seminar. Fr Thomas was a source of inspiration and guidance right from the inception of the idea, the planning and conduct of the Seminar. The realization of this Seminar was also thanks to the interest and initiative of Rev. Fr. Maria Arockiam Kanaga, Regional Superior of South Asia, by way of motivating the Provincials.
The participants were all from the Salesian Family – 8 Salesians (RMG 1, INB 1, IND 1, INK 2, INH 1, INN 1, INS 1); 11 Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (INB 1, INC 2, ING 2, INK 1, INM 3, INS 1); 1 Sister of Mary Immaculate (Bangalore). Sr. Maria Pettayil and Sr. Lily Perumpettikunnel from our province were among them.
The Inauguration began at 9.30 a.m. with a fervent hymn in praise of and in prayer to Don Bosco. Rev. Fr. Kapplikunnel, the Coordinator of the seminar welcomed everyone in affectionate terms. Rev. Fr. Joyce Thonikuzhiyil sdb the Provincial, gave the presidential address.
What followed was a ‘Connect to the Centre’ listening to the messages received from Rome:
- The Rector Major Rev. Fr. Angel Fernandez Artime exhorted the participants, to demonstrate in a credible way the Salesian contribution in the various sectors of human promotion, especially in that closest to the world of the young.
- The Mother General of the FMAs, Sr Yvonne Reungoat reiterated that writing history for recognizing the wonders of God in the educational endeavours of our past, and that examining the past with the intention of learning to plan for the future is a commitment on the part of historiographers.
- In his message, Rev. Fr. Maria Arockiam Kanaga, the Regional Councillor for South Asia made a poignant mention about preserving the memory of our history and of our ancestors for the sake of our posterity.
- Fr. Francesco Motto, President of ACSSA, affirmed that the Indian ACSSA will be instrumental in passing on to the future generations of the Indian Salesian Family the rich documentary heritage that previous generations have gathered with much sacrifice and zeal for souls.
Fr. Anchukandam presented his paper on Preserving and Passing on of the “Memory” in the Salesian Tradition. He also spoke elaborately on ‘Preserving the Sources and Writing History’. Fr. Mathew Valarkote sdb the Provincial Secretary dealt on ‘Archive Keeping’.
Sr. Philomena D’Souza (INB) presented her paper on the Founding of Auxilium, Wadala (1945 – 1954); Fr. Varghese Palatty sdb ( INN) on ‘Don Bosco Ashalayam Delhi; Sr. Lily Perumpattikunnel (INC) on ‘FMA Presence in New Delhi’(1967 to 1980); Sr. Cecily Thomas (INK) on the ‘Mission of the Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco for the Girl Children at Risk in Bangalore’; Fr. Mahimai Das (INM) on ‘The Social Service Guild’ of KJC, Bangalore (1968 to 2000); and Fr. Jerish Kochuparambil (IND) gave an account on the Servant of God, Bishop Orestes Marengo sdb as the Architect of Salesian North East India.
Other events of the seminar were: a memorable experience at DB Tech Skill Mission Centre at Bannerghatta Road for the training of Trainers; visit to FMA Convent, Nirmal Jyothi, and Don Bosco Renewal Centre .
In the Concluding Session the participants of the Seminar expressed their intention to proceed with the launch of the South Asia unit of ACSSA, with those who were present for the seminar as the founding members. The English expansion of ACSSA was fixed as: Association of the Promoters of Salesian History. In the elections that ensued, the following were elected unanimously as the office bearers of the ACSSA:
Sr. Philomena D’Souza fma : President
Fr. Varghese Palatty sdb : Vice President
Fr. Mathew Kapplikunnel sdb : Secretary cum Treasurer
Sr. Rajapushpam smi : Joint Secretary
Fr. Anchukandam sdb officially welcomed the Office Bearers of the ACSSA. The deliberations continued with defining the criteria for membership of ACSSA, frequency of meetings, date, venue and theme for the next meeting, finance, publication of the papers presented during the seminar and suggestions relevant to the promotion of Salesian History.
Future admissions will be regulated by a set of Statutes which will be drawn up by the Executive Committee (Office bearers) and approved by the general body in the next meeting.
It was decided to hold the next meeting of ACSSA in the last weekend of June 2018 on the theme: Salesian Stalwarts of India. The venue proposed was Hyderabad, or in the case of any inconvenience, Mumbai.
The frequency of meetings: The Executive Committee will meet at least once a year and as often as is necessary. The general body will meet once in two years, on which occasion serious studies/papers should be presented.
Fr Kapplikunnel earnestly pleaded with the participants to continue as members. He noted that continuity was of paramount importance for the realization of the scope of ACSSA.
With a joyful hymn of thanksgiving to God for Don Bosco, the curtains came down on the South Asia ACSSA Seminar held at Don Bosco Provincial House, Bangalore, from 24 to 26 June 2016.
Participant – Sr. Lily P. FMA