by Father Dinesh Vasava for BISMumbai

The nondescript Narukot village - about 65 kilometres to the east of Vadodara, 20 kilometres from the famed Mahakali temple and UNESCO World Heritage Archaeological Park at Champaner-Pavagadh, and about 70 kilometres from District Headquarters Godhra, located in Jambughoda Tehsil of Panchmahal district in Central Gujarat-India - is made up of some 240 predominantly Rathwa family-houses, deep within the Jambughoda Wildlife Sanctuary, comprising teak and mahuda trees and bamboo vegetation; home to mammalian, reptillian, herpetofauna species, the likes of which include the Indian flying fox, Indian giant squirrel, the leopard, hyena, wolf/jackal, the Indian sloth bear, python, crocodile, barking deer, four horned antelope[Chausingha], BlueBull [Nilgai], and wild boar. It is in this now-almost-depleting jungle environ, that the Salesians of Don Bosco, since 1987, manage the Narukot Education Society, on a plot of land gifted exclusively for the education, skilling and empowerment of the local youth, by Lavina Colgan Mody [endearingly Vina] – in memory of her revered husband, the eminent architect and Indian Parliamentarian, Piloo Mody.

This quiet nothing-almost-ever-happens-here Narukot was fortunate to welcome and host the 05 newly ordained priests of the Salesian Province of Bombay [INB] on 04 January 2020, adding colour, vitality and festivity to an otherwise routine weekend. MumbaiSalesian newly ordained Fathers Bosco Carvalho, Clarence Martis, Jerome Aruldass, Mavron Fernandes and Xavier Bandya were driven all the way from the Kapadvanj Don Bosco Society Campus in Kheda District at the break of dawn in haste by Fathers Ashwin Macwan and Dinesh Vasava, ensuring stop three on their honeymoon itinerary was fulfilled successfully.

The previous evening in Kapadvanj, upon arrival from Dakor, Father Mavron Fernandes presided at a concelebrated Eucharist with the confreres praying for the Salesians, the ministry entrusted to the community, for the numerous beneficiaries, and for the ever dependable ancillary staff. In his homily, Father Mavron, who had spent time here as a practical trainee, recounted his vocation story, “I am really delighted the way God has shaped my vocation, the manner in which God has always accompanied me at every moment of my life,” after which the festive dinner fellowship raised the happiness quotient of the Salesians-at-table with hearty and cheerful camaraderie.

This epiphanic journey from Kapadwanj to the eager and expectant Salesian community with students and parishoners in tow at Narukot, culminated in a ceremonial welcome upon arrival at the campus gates. Father Jerome Aruldass presided at the Eucharist encouraging the young people present for the worship, “dare to listen to God's call - Come and see, and discern if God wants you to stay and then make a firm decision.” The entire assembly was then blessed by the newly ordained laying their hands on them. A felicitatory cultural programme by the students of the English and Gujarat mediums, was followed by an interactive session where the honeymooning priests invited the young to “allow God to be part of your lives. Be open to His voice and listen to His call. Say yes to life and live as good human beings.” Festive lunch and godspeed paved the way ahead for stop four on the itinerary, with three of the five proceeding to Vadodara while the other two set out for Suket in Rajasthan.