Love for the Pope

by Castilino  

Here's one of Fr Lens' contribution in the light of celebrating the feast of Pope Pius X:

Don Bosco who knew how to present the Pope in a nice light, even when the Pope, Pius IX, had been made very unpopular, when anti-clericals spoke of him as the main obstacle to the unification of Italy. At a time when the Protestants had been emancipated and spread all kind of anti-papal pamphlets for the consumption of the ordinary people, at a time that the Government abolished all religious congregations… When Don Bosco was made to pay for his attitude by house searches in the Oratory, even then he succeeded in sharing his love for the Pope with his boys, his working boys. In the workshops of Turin they said: Keep quiet, don’t speak bad about the Pope, there is someone from Valdocco here.

That was Don Bosco's style of teaching devotion and respect - living it!

Convergence of energies

by Castilino  

In India we, the Salesians, are ranked second only to the Government in running technical schools in the whole of the country. This is a recognized fact and much has been achieved over the last couple of years. However, things can be much better. With the available infrastructure, expertise, man power, funds and the special Salesian charism, we can really transform the face of the country. Yet the reality is slow to happen! I liked one of the recent ideas that DB Tech India (the Salesian National Technical schools body) came up with: rather than each technical school in the Province trying to provide all possible skills and equip themselves in every trade, have an understanding by which each school specialises in one or two particular trades. Youngsters eager to learn a trade can be directed to the corresponding institution - after all, practically all the technical schools have boardings attached to them. This way, we can concentrate and specialise in particular fields and reach out to a greater number. If not, we only stretch ourselves too far and wide, waste personnel (because each technical school needs to be staffed) and underutilise the infrastructure and opportunities.

I was just wondering if this principle can also be applied to some other aspects of our apostolate, perhaps the formation sector?

Vocation promotion and foundation

by Castilino  


One of the points that came up yesterday for discussion was the vocation recruitment strategy. While Fr TV truly said that youngsters look for something challenging and that is what draws them to the Salesian way of life. But I expressed my doubts... perhaps today, some youngsters see our lifestyle as something that offers life on a platter. So they say, 'Why struggle when life can be so easy and ready made!' Vocations of this sort, need to be 'purified' in the course of our formation. But I also have a strong feeling that some of our young people are determined to grin and bear the chiselling of the formation period to 'bloom' (or bloat) once they are perpetually professed or ordained.

There could also be another possibility: youngsters join us for very good reasons with a high level of motivation, but down the line (may be due to the lacklustre community life or a couple of disoriented minds) all of it evaporates! Just like Andy saying to Red in the movie 'The Shawshank Redemption': "Outside I was an honest man. Straight as an arrow. I had to come to prison to become a crook." However, this is the case of only a few. The congregation thrives on the sweat and blood of the majority who slog it out.

All said and done, vocation still continues to be His gift and our response to His generosity in my context. If it were not for this truth, someone would have put the congregation for sale long ago!

Formation insights

by Castilino  


The joint meeting that we had of the Youth Pastoral and Formation commissions, this whole day was quite an enriching experience. Besides the normal ingredients of a meeting, some sharp and 'out of the box' thinking, made the sitting very exciting. Here are some personal insights:
When we invite youngsters to our way of life, on the basis of what do we invite them? What is our USP (Unique Selling Point!)? Do we propose to them to join our institution, our mission, our community, our way of life... I personally feel, our invitation to them is to know and love God and the young, like Don Bosco did! The rest is secondary.

Our lament most often is that young Salesians leave the congregation, mostly during the period of practical training (PT). While it is good to ask why, it is also important to reflect upon this important question that someone raised during the meeting: Young people join us, not to study philosophy or theology, but to work as we do, amidst young people. Why is it then, that they leave during PT? That's what they eagerly look forward to, but what is it that makes them quit when they really enter their desired field of work?

Most often our PTs are restricted to the institutional boys within. They are not given an opening to have a share in the mission of the whole community, say the pastoral activity of the Parish, the youth centre, Sunday oratory, group dynamics in the school and neighbourhood... He is totally lost in the boarding. Then we lament that young Salesians, after their ordination do not want to work in a mission station or take up some 'adventurous new frontiers'. Reason: if they have not tasted anything but an institutional (read it safe, disciplined and arranged life) life, for them to opt for something different is to go against the grain!


by Castilino  

In the Indian tradition, the naming of a new born child is a special and solemn ceremony. For the name implies much more than a family - it gives identity to the person. Similarly, my first posting on this blog would be to speak something about the name chosen: A drop of honey.
I chose it for basically three reasons:

It is a significant theme in the life of St Francis de Sales, a saint who is looked upto by the Church (and the congregation) for his divine intervention on behalf of the media (One can catch more flies by a drop of honey than a barrel full of vinegar!)
The phrase fondly reminds me of Fr John Lens, the senior-most Salesian in my Province of Hyderabad (INH). I've known him since my childhood. He is one whom I really adore! One of his many books, based on the life of St Francis de Sales, is titled 'A drop of Honey'.
I love the imagery this phrase offers... not an overdose, but just a drop. Enough to sweeten the mouth and tantalizing enough to crave for more!

Last of all, one cannot forget one's parents... and in the case of this blog, it's Fr Julian Fox with his team!! Thanks Fr Julian for this opportunity.

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