BIS #6798 XV Southern Zonal Conference of Salesian Cooperators at Mumbai

By Mrs Sudha Pillai for BISMumbai

The XV Southern Zonal Conference of Salesian Cooperators was held at Don Bosco Provincial House, Matunga, from 17 to 19 September 2022. The theme of this conference was ‘Salesian Cooperators a beacon of hope for the marginalised youth’.

This zonal conference is hosted by the Province of Bombay after seven years. It was auspicious indeed as the Salesian Province of Bombay celebrates 50 years of its existence while the FMA Province of Bombay celebrates 40 years of its existence.

After the hoisting of the Salesian Cooperators flag by Fr Savio Silveira, the Provincial, a solemn welcome and inauguration ceremony was held. The participants were welcomed in the traditional Maharashtrian way with tilak, shawl and topi. In his speech, Fr Silveira welcomed the gathering on behalf of the Salesians. He went on to remind the cooperators the essence of their calling: to focus on the poorest, to reach out to the poorest and to do all things for the poorest with love.

Sr Meena D’Silva, the Provincial of the FMA, spoke of the need to invest time and resources in the study of the theme in order to make an impact in the lives of the young. Dr DS Antuvan, the World Councillor for Salesian Cooperators, invited the gathering to promote the growth of the association through active presence and animation.

The next two days were spent in serious reflection on the theme with inputs given by Fr Joseph Manipadam, Fr Gilbert Choondal, and Fr Trevor Miranda SJ. These sessions focused on the deeper understanding of the vocation of the Salesian Cooperator, the identity and mission of the cooperator, and what working for the marginalised and the poorest of the poor entails. These topics enriched with lively interaction gave the participants an inkling of the need of the hour to be agents of change in society.

One of the sessions that created a deep impact on the Salesian Cooperators was the sharing of success stories. Alumni of Don Bosco Shelter homes shared their experiences of life and the manner in which Salesians through their mission gave them a fresh start in life and helped them in their careers. While this brought tears to the eyes of the Salesian Cooperators, it also convinced them of the relevance of their calling to dedicate their time to the upliftment of the marginalised.

Another highlight of the conference was the Eucharist celebrated by Fr Biju Michael, the General Councillor for South Asia. In his homily, he exhorted the cooperators to not just hear the Word of God, but also ponder on it and put it into practice: this is the calling of each Christian and especially of the Salesian Cooperators.

The conference ended on the morning of 19 September with the lowering of the flag by Dr Antuvan. The flag was handed over to the representatives of the Province of Bangalore where the conference will be held next.