BIS #6973 Diploma Course for Lay Salesian Collaborators begins at Pune

By Fr Ian Doulton for BISMumbai

A Diploma Course for Lay Salesian Collaborators commenced on 15 July 2023 at the Don Bosco Youth Centre, Koregaon Park, Pune. The team headed by Fr Ian Doulton, Sr Teresa Joseph, Fr Vivian D’Souza and Fr Valerian Pereira put this programme together, and they were ably assisted by the students of theology. This module concludes on 23 July. 

This, first ever course of its kind, is offered to those holding leadership positions in some of the institutions in the Province of Bombay. 16 members from six Salesian institutions of the province participated in the programme.

The inaugural session began with Fr Savio Silveira, Provincial (INB), unveiling the picture of Mamma Margaret, the first lay Salesian. Don Bosco had many teachers, and he admired and cherished them immensely, but none did he revere more than his dear mother – Margaret Occhiena, affectionately known then, and now as Mamma Margaret. She played a seminal role in the lives of Don Bosco and his boys.

Fr Doulton welcomed everyone, made it clear that this is the first ever course of its kind, and emphasised the obvious: Mamma Margaret was the first Lay Salesian! 

In his address to the participants, Fr Silveira touched on the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of the Diploma Course for Lay Salesian Collaborators. He emphasised: “Our Mission is that we are called to be signs and bearers of God’s love for the young,” stating that: “This programme will not be just for this province. We intend to make it available to the Lay Salesian collaborators in Salesian India.” 

The programme concluded with the special prayer prepared for the occasion, which was prayed by all the participants, bringing the inaugural session to an apt conclusion.

The methodology adopted for this course includes both theoretical and practical sessions showcasing the Salesian Educational System, the Preventive System, the Rector Major’s Strenna for 2023, and an appropriate exposé on how to understand teenagers, who are the primary ‘field of work’. A virtual guided-pilgrimage to Becchi, Castelnuovo, and surroundings would be followed by drawing up lines of action for today and the challenges and strategies to live the Preventive System in their Salesian institutions, their homes and in their lives. 

It is hoped that this programme becomes leaven in Salesian India and indeed in South East Asia, to enthuse many lay members (who work “shoulder to shoulder” with the Salesians) to celebrate their Salesian Vocation in a new and more effective manner in all their settings.