Guwahati (Fides Service) - “You are the reason for the existence of the Salesians. India offers you much hope and many challenges, you must build a better India” Salesian Superior Major Fr Pascual Chavez told a gathering of about 700 young people in Guwahati, in the north eastern Indian state of Assam. The Superior is visiting Salesian communities in India to mark the centenary of their presence here. Fr Chavez urged the young people to build a country “of harmony, unity, respect for human rights and tolerance. India is a mosaic of cultures and religions. Our education must promote peace and development ” he told those present.
Meeting local men and women Catholic Religious, many of them Salesians, Fr Chavez said: “Religious of the third millennium must be filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit. They must nourish and share a passion for God and for humanity”, mentioning, as an example, Mother Teresa di Calcutta.
He praised the efforts of the many religious in India, Salesians and others, and their witness and pastoral zeal and dedication to mission, encouraging those involved in the education of youth to root their work in prayer .
The Salesian Fathers, founded by Don Bosco, work mainly in education and professional training of youth. The centenary celebrations were inaugurated on 28 February in New Delhi by Fr. Pascual Chavez, who then went on to visit the other provinces in India. In New Delhi he said that after one hundred years of service in India “the Salesian congregation has an Indian face”, remarking on the progress made in inculturating the faith and tackling the main challenges to mission in India, including the caste system and religious fundamentalism.
Celebrations will continue with various initiatives for the next twelve months and close in 2006 in Tamil Nadu where, in 1906, the first Salesians arrived and opened an orphanage at Thanjavur. Today there are about 2,500 Salesians working on 400 different initiatives including schools, technical training centres, homes for street children, rural development programmes and family counselling in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan and Myanmar.
(PA) (Agenzia Fides 10/3/2005 righe 23 parole 231)