KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) – On Tuesday, Aug 9, 2011 at 11:48 PM, Mr. Allwyn Fernandes wrote the following in “A Communicating Indian Church,” e-group which he manages (I am also part of the group). In this particular dispatch Mr. Fernandes raised several issues on the current pilgrimage of Don Bosco’s Relic across India. Here is the entire text of the Times of India journalist from Mumbai:
“Has any Salesian raised his voice against this weird spectacle that the Salesian order is promoting in India?
Because only a Salesian is best placed to do it — any other religious doing it will only result in a war of religious orders.
Are we a medieval Church to have a dead saint’s right hand (whenever and for whatever reason it was cut off or removed has never been explained anywhere), embed it in a wax replica of his body and take it round the world to mark his 200th birth anniversary to come in 2015?
To me, this is the ultimate disrespect to a saint – to severe part of his/her body and then take it round for “veneration”. I can understand they had to do that 200 years ago to prove to theVaticanthat St Francis Xavier’s body was not corrupted. Even that repels me. But to take part of the body round embedded in a wax cast of the body in 2011???
Couldn’t the Salesians have thought of a more constructive and long-lasting way of celebrating the bi-centenary of Don Bosco’s birth? He was a man who responded in a unique way to the needs of his time in the city where he lived. What would he have felt the need to do were he to arrive in theIndiaof today?
As I write this, we need a Don Bosco in the streets ofLondonto get those young men off their destructive course of action, whatever be the reasons for it. Come on Salesians, put your heads together and choose a tough new way of responding to the needs of the time to commemorate the birth of your great founder. This way of doing it does not enlighten us about who Don Bosco was and how he responded to the needs of his time. It is promoting idolatory in another form. That is evident from the write-up below with its patronising headline.”
The above piece by Mr Fernandes received just one comment from a group member:
“There is nothing so enticing to an Indian than the miraculous tinged with the sacred. Consider the huge expense, the organisation, time, effort and devotion . Of course these are needed elsewhere but it is easier to arouse interest and endorse a once in a life time event that will soon be forgotten. The dividends from it cannot be seen nor counted.” (Therese Almeida Date: 11 August 2011 12:03).
Here is the piece that tickled Mr Fernandes
John Bosco brought ‘alive’ to Indians
Posted by: “Bombay Catholic Sabha, Kalina” MangaloreanCatholics@gmail.com
Wed Aug 3, 2011 2:48 am (PDT)
John Bosco brought ‘alive’ to Indians
Published Date: July 29, 2011
John Bosco brought ‘alive’ to Indians thumbnail
Millions thronged to venerate Saint John Bosco’s relic as it was taken to different parts of the national capital.
On July 30, a sea of humanity assembled at the Sacred Heart Cathedral as the relic was brought there.
A pontifical concelebrated Mass led by Archbishop Vincent M Concessao and assisted by scores of priests was held on the occasion.
The prelate urged the faithful to emulate the saint in “our daily life”.
Lauding John Bosco’s contribution to the youth, he said the saint taught that laziness was the root cause of all evil.
He was all praise for the “good work” done by the Salesians in the field of education and that of empowering the poor.
After Mass huge queues were witnessed, as people pushed and shoved to kiss the casket and receive the saint’s blessings.
“I am very much excited to be able to get so close to a saint’s relic,” said Arush Michael, a class VII student.
“I prayed for good results as the saint was a friend of children,” he said.
The relic, the right hand of the Italian saint placed inside a metal box and embedded in a wax replica of his body, arrived in the national capital on July 28.
While waiting in the heat to see the relic, Amit Alfred Kujur, a college student, said he came to seek Don Bosco’s special blessings. He said it is a “rare chance, blessing and inspiration.”
Agnes Michael, a teacher, said ”she felt privileged to get a chance to see the replica of the much-loved saint.”
Rosy David, a housewife, said “we have come as a family for it was only after praying to the saint that my husband, a lawyer, achieved success in his profession. With this relic arrival, Don Bosco has been brought alive to Indians,” she said.
Father Jose Mathew,SalesianProvincesaid, “This is the first time in history that any catholic saint’s remains are being taken all across the world.”
From the Cathedral, the relic was taken to Najafgarh for a night-long vigil service. The relic was taken to most of the Salesian institutes in the national capital. It will also visitChandigarhand other areas before leaving for Mumbai.
The pilgrimage is part of the preparations for the 2015 bi-centenary celebrations of Don Bosco’s birth. It also marked the 150th year of the foundation of the Salesian congregation.
The casket began its journey in 2009 fromItaly’s Valdocco and is set to travel five continents where Salesian members are serving the youth.
It came toIndiain the last week of April and has already visited the north-east states.
Founder of the Salesian Society, John Bosco was born atPiedmont,Italy, August 16, 1815 and died January 31, 1888. He was canonized in 1934.