KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) – In a touching farewell ceremony to Don Bosco Relic visit to Kolkata province, Fr Provincial presented Fr Shiju James Thottupurathu leaving for overseas missions.
“It is our humble gift to Don Bosco on his visit to our province,” said Fr Thomas Ellicherail at the solemn Eucharist marking Provincial Community Day and farewell to Don Bosco, 19 July 2011.
In a faith filled statement Fr Provincial added, “we in the province felt that this is something that the Lord will bless.”
The celebrations held at Nitika Don Bosco opposite the Provincial House had over 80 priests and some 10 Brothers participating.
Fr Shiju, 33 year old young priest from Kerala has been nursing the missionary dream for over ten years even though his companions and superiors tried to remind him of the missionary challenges to be faced in Latin America.
“I always wanted to be a missionary. I had expressed my desire as a young Salesian, but my superiors insisted that I should take time to discern,” said Fr Shiju addressing confreres gathered for the farewell to Don Bosco.
“Even though we are short of personnel to man various works in the province, I am glad that Fr. Shiju has volunteered for mission ad gentes, inspiring in us the missionary zeal,” said the provincial stating the acute shortage of personnel he is facing.
A house like Don Bosco School Park Circus which normally had more than 20 confreres, has currently just seven confreres (five priests and two lay brothers). They run Primary & High School, andTechnicalSchool, as well as Night School and Non-Formal Technical school. The community which used to have 7 or 8 clerics doing practical training and college studies, today has no clerics in training at all.
On a positive note and as sign of the tangible assistance of divine providence to this generous act Provincial announced the good news of a missionary returning to the province after 26 years of missionary work in Bolivia. The missionary Fr Joseph Punchakunnel was principal of Salesian College Sonada Darjeeling and several years Novice Master before he left for South American missions.
Director of Don Bosco Vocational Training Institute Monsadah and Warden of St Albert’s Home Monsadah on Indo-Bangladesh border Fr Shiju is expected to leave forRomeearly August. He will participate in the annual international missionary preparatory course held at the Salesian University Rome before he leaves for Guatemala.