KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) – An Italian Salesian missionary in Kolkata city, spoke at a public function marking Don Bosco Relic visit at the Auxilium Church Gobra, 15-16 July 2011. The 89 year old Sicilian priest gave a vivid presentation of Don Bosco’s 9th April 1886 dream (almost two years before his death on 31 January 1888) where he saw Calcutta as one of the major hubs of Salesian activities.
Earlier at the homily during the Solemn Eucharist celebrated by five bishops and 41 priests, Salesian Archbishop Lucas Sircar of Kolkata confirmed that there are two letters of Don Bosco still preserved in the Archbishop’s House archives.
The short-built and soft-spoken missionary Fr Stroscio Rosario has lived at the Auxilium parish presbytery for over 30 years now.
The parish plans to offer financial assistance to make 200 houses for t’e poor to mark the bi-centenary of Don Bosco’s birth as well as his visit to the parish.
According to Fr Stroscio, a rare Italian who graduated with a Master of Arts degree in History fromCalcuttaUniversity, “it was the Auxilium church that Don Bosco would have seen in his dream as there are four Salesian institutions in this parish. They are theAuxiliumChurch, School and boys’ hostel under Salesians; the Salesian Sisters’ convent and girls’ Hostel, as well as Provincial head quarters, and Nitika Don Bosco in the parish territory.
It was Fr Rosario’s dream to have a magnificent Church built in honour of Mary Help of Christians, the Madonna of Don Bosco in Kolkata. The project began with the making of a plywood model of the Church in 1985. The dream was materialized only after 10 years under the direction of Fr K.K. Sebastian. Incidentally, Fr K.K. Sebastian has just returned as Parish priest atAuxiliumChurchafter almost 15 years.
Fr Stroscio, a former provincial of the Kolkata province (1967 to 1972) became a controversial figure during his missionary work in Maliapota (Nadia Dt) when government served deportation order on “conversion’ charges. It was then Mother Teresa who stepped in and requested the government to have him as her Chaplain to the Missionaries of Charity Sisters at neighbouring Prem Dan, a large rehabilitation center for T.B. patients. The authorities relented, withdrew the deportation order, and Fr Stroscio is stayed put at Auxilium since 1979.
The Salesians started Auxilium Parish in Tengra known as dhapa (dumping ground) an out-law area on the outskirts of the city in 1974 having relinquished the Cathedral Church on Portuguese Church street to Kolkata diocese in 1972. It was there Salesians started their first presence in Kolkata city in 1925 with the famous Catholic Orphan Press. Today, Auxilium is possibly the largest slum parish in Kolkata with several Mass centres including Motijheel slum chapel, the very place where Mother Teresa ofCalcuttastarted her street ministry.
Then Archbishop of Calcutta, Archbishop Henry Sebastian D’Souza, asked Fr Rosario to pray over the 87 year old Mother Teresa who had been hospitalized for heart problems. Mother Teresa was suffering from insomnia and acting strangely. The Archbishop said of the situation that, “when doctors said they could not find a medical reason for her sleeplessness, I thought she might be getting attacked by the devil.” After Fr Stroscio prayed over her, she was calm and slept peacefully. That was in 1997.
Fr Stroscio is also the national president of the Indian chapter of the worldwide Marian Movement of Priests.