by BISMumbai Correspondent

On 11 November 1875, Don Bosco sent off his sons as the 1st Salesian Missionaries to Argentina. The 11th day of each month, in memory of this 1st sending, is celebrated by the Salesians of Don Bosco as 'missionary day', praying for those who volunteer to be sent to different parts of the world to usher in the kingdom of love, joy, peace, justice and truth, through the life-witness of the Good News, the Don Bosco Way. 11 November each year is celebrated as Salesian Missionary Day (SMD) with different themes for each year. In recent years, the SMD has focused and framed a different theme for different continents: Oceania (2016), America (2017), Asia (2018) and Africa (2019). In 2020, the focus is Europe, with specific focus on the Oratories and Youth Centers - educational environments for the nurturing of young people.

“Don Bosco lived a pastoral experience in his first Oratory which serves as a model; it was for the youngsters a home that welcomed, a parish that evangelized, a school that prepared them for life and a playground where friends could meet and enjoy themselves. As we carry out our mission today, the Valdocco experience is still the lasting criterion for discernment and renewal in all our activities and works.” (Const. 40)

MumbaiSalesians' have the privilege of having contributed immensely to Project Africa , where today Salesian works flourish. As of date, 15 MumbaiSalesians have volunteered and are working in various parts of the world, while 11 others are working in other provinces. The 15 MumbaiSalesians' 'Missionaries Ad Gentes' are: Fathers Anthony D'Souza [AUS], Anthony Fernandes [GBR], Anthony Lobo [UPS], Neville Luis [AFE], Claudius Misquitta [UNG], Clifford Morais [FIN], Sudhir Parmar [AFE], Ambrose Pereira [FIN], Lytton Quadros [UNG], Oscar Tuscano [IME]; Scholastic-Clerics Sheldon Dias [AFO], Nilesh Dodiyar [BEN], Michael Gaikwad [THA], Jeswin Mastan [GIA] and Felix Almeida. These are engaged in various activities but all focussed on 'being signs and bearers of God' love to the young', following Don Bosco's way.

The 11 MumbaiSalesians in other provinces are: Fathers Ivo Coelho [General Councillor for Formation], Matthew Coutinho [Ratisbonne-Jerusalem], Nelson Falcao [Dimapur], Edison Fernandes [Goa], Peter Gonsalves [Rome], Leslie Pereira [Nepal], Chrysanthus Saldanha [Ethiopia], Damien Sladen [Australia]; Coadjutor Bro. Savio D'Mello [Karunapuram], and Scholastic-Cleric Mukesh Garasiya [Shillong].

As on the 11th of every month, this June, especially in the context of the worldwide pandemic, as through these last 03 months of the chaos and stressful moments, MumbaiSalesians remember and pray for these 'brothers' labouring in various parts of the world, that God continue to be their courage, consolation, and comfort, in these moments of trial and tribulation. A fond remembrance also of all the missionaries who through their life-testimony inspired and encouraged the 'vocation' of young boys through the many decades of education, mentoring and spiritual accompaniment, in western India.