BIS #6848 Celebrating 50 Glorious Years

By Br Aliester D’Souza for BISMumbai

On 3 December 2022, feast of St Francis Xavier, the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Salesian Province of Bombay culminated with an eventful evening of gratitude, remembrance and joy. Though the Salesians began work in the city in 1928, the Province of Bombay was incepted on 31 January 1972 - carved from the Province of Madras.

Bishop Barthol Barretto, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Bombay, was the principal celebrant at the solemn Holy Eucharist held on the Shrine grounds at 5.30 p.m.. Along with him were present Bishop Allwyn D’Silva - Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Bombay, and Bishop Lourdes Daniel, Bishop of the Diocese of Nashik. Also, the presence of five former Provincials of the Province - Frs Chrys Saldana, Loddy Pires, Joaquim D’Souza, Michael Fernandes and Godfrey D’Souza - was a blessing to the celebration. Around 140 Salesians and around 1200 lay persons - parishioners, cooperators, teachers and students from the Salesian presences in and around Mumbai - were also present for the occasion.

In his homily, Bishop Barretto thanked God who through the instrumentality of the Salesians has touched the lives of so many people - young and old alike - in the dioceses of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Through innovative works for the young at risk, mental health, and other youth movements, they have contributed uniquely to the mission of the Church in these dioceses. The Bishop also prayed for the Salesians of the Province invoking God’s blessings as they venture into the years ahead with the missionary zeal of their patron, St Francis Xavier.

After the Eucharist, an elaborate programme was organised in celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the inception of the Province. The band of Don Bosco High School, Matunga, with their energetic performance of ‘El Cumbanrecho’ and ‘Rusticanello’ had it all started on the right note. Fr Savio Silveira, the Provincial of the Salesian Province of Bombay, welcomed the gathering and expressed his immense gratitude at their presence on this momentous occasion. He then felicitated the dignitaries present for the occasion: the three Bishops, the former Provincials, and the guest Salesians from the other Salesian provinces. The student brothers from the postnovitiate, expressed sentiments of heartfelt gratitude as they enthralled the audience with their wonderful choral rendition of ‘You Raise Me Up’.

The audience were then taken through the history of the Province in a very creative and engaging manner through a superbly scripted play. Directed by Fr Ajoy Fernandes, the performance was both a conglomerate of various Salesian institutions of the Province and an amalgamation of song, dance and visual art as they proceeded to tell of the glories of the Province. Paying tribute to the pioneers of the province, Fr George Tomatis, Fr Aurelius Maschio, Fr Vincenzo Scuderi, Fr Antonio Alessi and others who contributed tirelessly to its inception and growth, and to the variety of diverse unconventional apostolates that were a response to the signs of the times, the programme left the audience in awe of the contribution made and the rich heritage the Province has in store in the western region of India.

Three years of prayer and reflection, and weeks of immediate preparation and hard work reached a crescendo in a truly blessed celebration of fifty golden years.