The Salesian bishops meeting with Rector Major Father Pascual Chávez Villanueva, and the members of his Council in Turin, 21-25 May, plan to express their solidarity with Pope Benedict XVI. Of the 119 Salesian bishops in the world, five are cardinals. Organizers say 93 bishops including four cardinals have confirmed their participation. The meeting will discuss the topic “Salesian Charism and the Episcopal Ministry.”
A letter signed by Salesian prelates and major superiors expressing loyalty and affection to His Holiness the Pope is expected to be released during the solemn celebrations marking the feast of Mary Help of Christians at Valdocco, Turin, 24 May, say sources in the Salesian headquarters in Rome. The event will be telecast live by Don Bosco Missions Turin on TV 2000, a satellite channel.
Occasion of Major Events
The five-day bishops’ meet to be held in the Salesian Mother House in Turin marks 125th anniversary of the consecration of Bishop Giovanni Cagliero (7 December 1884), the first Salesian Bishop and Cardinal.
The event is linked with Salesian jubilees such as the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Congregation (1859-2009), the centenary of the death of the first successor of Don Bosco, Blessed Michael Rua, (1910-2010) and the preparations for the bi-centenary of the birth on Don Bosco in 2015.
It also marks other events in the life of the Church and of the Salesian world in these days: the Feast of Mary Help of Christians which is traditionally a very special occasion in Valdocco and Turin, the conclusion of the display of the Holy Shroud of Turin (23 May), closing of the Year for Priests and also a meeting of the Salesian novices in Europe.
Indian Religious Greet Salesian Bishops
Conference of Religious India (CRI) greeted Salesian bishops, including those from India, 19 May.
“The Salesians have been a dynamic presence in India,” CRI national secretary Brother Mani Mekkunnel said noting that some 10 Indian Salesians are bishops.
“The Salesian Bishops should be able to provide inspiring leadership to the Indian hierarchy,” Brother Mani said while congratulating the bishops for their dedicated service.
Salesian Bishops in India
In the last 104 years of Salesian presence in India, 22 Salesians served the Indian church hierarchy. Eight of them were archbishops. Archbishop Eugene Mederlet of Madras was the first Salesian bishop in India (1928-1934) while Bishop Paul Mariaselvam of Vellore (1953-54) was the first Indian Salesian to become a bishop. The first five of them were missionaries from abroad while the remaining 17 are native sons of the Church.
Currently there are 10 Salesian bishops in India– five in northeast India, three in Tamil Nadu and two in West Bengal. Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil of Guwahati, Archbishop Dominic Jala of Shillong, retired Bishop Robert Kerketta of Tezpur, Bishop Joseph Aind of Dibrugarh and Bishop George Paliparambil of Miao serve northeast India.
While Archbishop Lucas Sirkar Kolkata and Bishop Joseph Gomes of Krishnagar serve the Church in West Bengal, Archbishop Mylappan Chinnappa of Madras-Mylapore, Bishop Periyanayagam Soundaraj of Vellore and Bishop Joseph Antony of Dharmapuri serve Tamil Nadu Church.
Today, there are about 2,500 Salesians spread out in 10 provinces in India.