BIS #7005 Blessing of the Salesian Residence at Banswara
By Fr Pannasingh Bhuriya for BISMumbai
The Salesian residence at Banswara, Rajasthan, was blessed and inaugurated by Rev. Devprasad Ganawa, Bishop of Udaipur, on 5 August 2023 in the presence of the Provincial of the Salesian Province of Bombay (INB) Fr Savio Silveira, and the Provincial Council members.
Fr Michael Bansode welcomed everyone and invited the Bishop to lead the prayer of blessing. The marble plaque engraved for the occasion was unveiled, and Fr Bansode, in keeping with the local culture, smashed a coconut on the ground below the plaque—a sign of good fortune. Fr Silveira inaugurated the new residence, while Bishop Ganawa blessed the chapel. It was Bishop Ganawa himself who laid the foundation stone of the residence on 24 January 2022. This was a historic moment in the lives of the Salesians of INB, as it was their first presence in the Diocese of Udaipur.
There were priests and nuns from the Banswara Deanery as well as the Diocese of Udaipur present for the occasion. The Bishop presided over the Holy Eucharist, accompanied by the Provincial and the Vicar General. During the homily, the Bishop remarked, “We have been waiting for the presence of the Salesians in our diocese for the past twenty years. We are very happy that you are now here with us; and that you will be offering our diocese the much-needed service of higher education.”
A felicitation programme was held to appreciate and thank various people who played an essential role in the Salesian presence in Banswara. The dignitaries were honoured with a garland, a pagadi, and a shawl as per the custom of the place. Fr Silveira addressed the gathering and thanked every individual who was a part of the residence building. He exhorted the people to pray for the educational projects of the Salesians. He also thanked Bishop Ganawa for inviting the Salesians to the Diocese of Udaipur.
Between 2018 and 2020, a few Salesians from the Gujarat region and members of the Provincial Council made several visits to Banswara to study the feasibility of starting a Salesian presence there. Based on these study visits and discussions with the Diocesan clergy, it was clear that there is a large concentration of Catholics in the Banswara region. While the town boasts good Catholic schools, there is no Catholic college in the entire diocese of Udaipur. Hence, the Provincial Chapter 2019 felt it imperative to establish an institute of higher education there and included it as part of the province’s six-year plan.
The decision to establish a college in Banswara reflects the commitment of the Salesians of the Province of Bombay to provide quality education to the marginalised in society, especially tribals. We pray that this new mission that the Salesians are commencing may be a ministry where young people experience God’s care and goodness.