by BISMumbai Correspondent

These are trying times. The usual camps, organised each year during the summer holidays, in the months of April-May, have been a 'wipe-out' this year. The COVID-19 lockdown restrictions ensured that none of the many summer camps planned by the Don Bosco Youth Services Matunga-Mumbai, including the 'Vocation Camp' could be organised. Speaking to BISMumbai, Father Blany Pinto-Rector Don Bosco Lonavla explained the crisis-scenario. He clarified the unique innovative process set-in-motion, in the aftermath of the COVID-19.

Father Pinto says, "Every year, the Vocation Camp is organised from 02 - 12 May, over 10 days, with 02 specific objectives: to assess the intellectual capacity and the conduct of the boys, aspiring to join DB Lonavla. The staying together in the company of other boys, provides an opportunity for the boys to experience first-hand whether they wish to join the apostolic and aspirantate residential facility. At the end, the Salesians at Lonavla with the ViceProvincial and with the Vocation Promoters make an assessment.``

The Provincial Circular of May 2020, encouraged all the leaders of communities and other confreres following up vocation probables, to send the list of boys followed up and desirous of joining, to the ViceProvincial with a copy to the Rector of DB Lonavla. In the unique situation of this year, with the 'vocation camp' cancelled, few parents were reluctant to send the boys without an actual camp experience.

Father Pinto says, "once we received the list of names, the Salesians at Lonavla contacted the interested boys and their parents over the phone. This made us realise that a few of these did not wish to join, basically for 02 reasons: the boys just wanted a camp experience, the parents wanted to send their wards to the camp to gain an experience after which they would arrive at a decision. Thus from the total number of forms received, 61 boys with the consent of their parents have agreed to join."

From the list of those aspiring to join, especially for students of Std. 08 and 09, it was felt that a 'test' in Mathematical ability and English proficiency would be a fair screening requirement. Father Pinto says, "a sample practice test paper has already been sent via WhatsApp to the boys, and on Wednesday 27 May the test will take place from 11:00 to 12:30, and based on this test performance, the selection will be made. Once selected, these boys can seek admission to the school and participate in the online classes which are already underway."

Thanking all the vocation promoters and the leaders of communities who have contacted, accompanied boys on their vocation discernment journey and have forwarded their names, Father Pinto requests, "all confreres and others, to please pray that we at Lonavla may accompany these boys and help them discern their life-vocation."