GUWAHATI, (C.M. Paul) — Coming on the heels of the SPCSA (Salesian Provincial Conference of South Asia) meet being held in Goa (5-8 September), the first ever Salesian Family Joint Provincial Councils met for about 5 hours from 2 pm on 3 September at Siloam Conference Centre on the shore of Barapani Lake on Guwahati-Shillong road. Some 80 members of 12 Salesian Family Councils (Salesians of Don Bosco -3, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians -2, Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians – 5, Sisters of Mary Immaculate -1 and the Visitation Sisters of Don Bosco -1) took part.
“It is unique and for the first time in the 90 year history of Salesian presence in northeast India that the decision makers of Salesian Family working in northeast India sat together to plan joint ministry for the people of the region,” said convener of the meet, Salesian provincial of Guwahati Fr V.M. Thomas.
The meet started with an emotional and prayerful moment when 5 representatives of the Salesian Family brought together five burning candles to make a big flame – a symbolic action giving the clear message “we are like a mighty flame when we let our light shine together,” it seemed to say.
After a round of presentations and expectations of the various groups, the Joint Councils proposed religious education, higher education and skills training for development as priority areas for joint ministry.
In the sector of higher education, the members unanimously agreed to back the first ever Catholic University (Assam Don Bosco University estd. 2008) by providing qualified personnel, running hostels for men and women, sending students to Don Bosco University, and providing specialized services like Campus Ministry, Counselling, Youth Services, and Mentoring of students.
In the skills training for development sector, they agreed to provide skills for getting employment, formation of Self Help Groups, network for development and social work, and use their infrastructure facilities for evening classes and adult education.
Taking note of the upcoming Year of Faith (11 Oct, 2012-24 Nov 2013) the joint council stressed Catechesis and Faith Formation. They envisage teams of priests and Sisters engaging in faith formation and training of personnel for catechesis, as well as collaborate in parish activities.