CHENNAI, (Fr. Pathiaraj) – The first Salesian Missionary Aspirantate in South India has been launched on 29 June by Fr. Jayapalan Raphael, the Salesian Provincial of Chennaiat at Don Bosoco, Permabur (Chennai). The programme included a send off ceremony three missionaries from the province going overseas – Fr. Solomon Kolandaiswamy SDB, Fr. Balasamy Yettukuri SDB and Bro. Leo Dhanraj SDB. The celebrations began with a concelebrated Mass on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, presided over by former of Dharmapuri Rev Antony SDB.
Don Bosco Missionary Aspirantate, Perambur, is the second missionary aspirantate of India. It is inaugurated just seven months and seven days after the first missionary aspirantate at Sirajuli (Assam) in Guwhahati Province. It is the 14th missionary aspirantate of the congregation and the second outside Europe.
At the beginning of the Eucharist there was a traditional ceremony of lighting the Kuthuvilaku (Bronze Lamp) by different people who gain prominence in this function. The five wicks of the oil lamp were lit by Bro. Julian Santi SDB, the sole missionary left in the province, Fr. T. C. George the Delegate of Salesian Provincial Conference of South Asia for the missionary animation, Fr. Solomon Kolandaiswamy (one of the three missionaries), Fr. Provincial and Fr. Pathiaraj SDB, the Rector of the aspirantate.
After this ceremonial lighting of the lamp Fr. Provincial read out the letter of approval from the Rector Major and a letter from Fr. Václav Klement, General Councilor for the Missions. The Rector Major expressed in his letter that he felt proud of this new venture of theprovinceofChennai. The Councilor for the Missions described it as a concrete response of the Indian Provinces to the call of the Rector Major: ‘It’s the time to give back’.
Fr. Francis Sebastian SDB, a missionary in Sri Lanka, preached the homily. He explained that a missionary was the one who came out of his own ego to bring God’s love to the people. He also shared his missionary experiences in Sri Lanka.
Soon after the Mass a short programme was organized felicitate the three missionaries. Fr. Jayapalan, the Provincial, felicitated the three missionaries and presented them with a statue of Our Lady as a symbol of Our Lady accompanying them. The missionary aspirants also gave cultural items. Around 250 people including Salesians, various religious and lay collaborators participated in the festivities.
This missionary aspirantate has 13 aspirants and one is from the Andaman Islands.
Eventually the candidates will come from all South Indian provinces.