Friday, December 31, 2010

WISHING YOU "A HAPPY NEW YEAR 2011"


This beautiful song from ABBA - perennial favourite...

"Happy New Year, Happy New Year
May we all have a vision now and then
Of a world where every neighbour is a friend.

Happy New Year, Happy New Year
May we all have our hopes, our will to try
If we don’t we might as well lay down and die
You and I"

Saturday, December 25, 2010

SPREADING CHRISTMAS JOY TO ALL



One of those great songs that sum up what Christ meant by coming into this world...He came to bring joy to all...yes 'to all'...

So to all my friends and family - Have a Great Christmas sharing joy and love with all especially those who are alone and sad...poor and on the margins of this world!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

CHRISTMAS NOVENA - DAY 2



The second day of the novena - He is Coming! Let us prepare for His coming...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

CHRISTMAS NOVENA - DAY ONE



A beautiful way to prepare for this wonderful feast of the Lord's coming - we celebrate and recall the first even as we prepare for the second and continue to welcome Him every day...

Maranatha - Come Lord Jesus...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A SALESIAN ‘LEGEND’ IS NO MORE

Yesterday we laid to rest a Salesian who truly lived his life for others big time…and he was not a priest. In fact, his being a ‘simple brother’ is what made the difference to all he did. As I participated in the funeral rites my mind went back to my encounters with this great man.

My first memories of Br. P.M. Thomas (or ‘Br. PM’ as he was fondly called) goes back to the earliest days I spent in Don Bosco Lonavla. He was the Principal of a really small school – just classes 8, 9, 10 and 11 – with a total strength of not more than 120 boys. He was a tough disciplinarian pushing all of us to greater heights and motivating us to achieve more. He had a wonderful gift of communicating his ideas forcefully and persuasively. In the four years he was at the head of our school there were many changes. For one our school moved to new premises, it opened a junior college and admitted girl students, and his pet subject – mathematics – became something that we feared less and learned to love. The latter was inculcated in his characteristic. It entered your head when you paid close attention and woe to you if you did not for out of nowhere your shin would feel the lasting impact of a well-delivered kick.

My next chance to meet Br. PM was during my practical training at Salesian Training Institute (novitiate). Here I encountered another facet of the person. He was Prefect of Studies and also professor of Psychology in Divyadaan. I was often amazed at his prime focus – an unrelenting desire to communicate values to the young novices and students of philosophy. He was keen that they should be ‘good Salesians’ and he spared no efforts to realize this goal. He was always ‘present’ be it in the chapel, the classroom or the football and hockey grounds. He brought intensity to all he did. There were no ‘bad novices’ just some who were not sufficiently motivated and he did his best to correct that error.

In the years after my ordination I often had opportunities to meet and discuss issues with Br. PM. The years did not dim his enthusiasm for life and his vocation. On the contrary, they just made him even more committed to his passion. He showed in myriads of ways his joy at being a consecrated person, his love for Don Bosco and the congregation, and his desire to encourage many others to follow religious life. And what was even more admirable was his love for people, in a special way the relatives of his brother Salesians. Whenever parents visited the community he was the first to greet them, to set them at ease and to make their stay comfortable. It did not matter that he did not speak their language. For him all that mattered was that they had generously offered their son to God and that made them special.

I was the beneficiary of Br. PM’s Salesian spirit. In 1996 he was the pioneer principal of Don Bosco School Nashik. The school began with a few students in very difficult circumstances but that did not prevent him from initiating some very beautiful practices. He would be there every morning to shake the hand of each child, he created a warm and loving camaraderie among the staff, he made sure that the poor students were never discriminated against and he never stopped speaking about God and inculcating the spirit of prayerfulness. Years later, it was so beautiful to be on the staff of the school which has become a living testimony to the greatness of Br. PM. Don Bosco School Nashik has to this day a sound tradition rooted in the spirit of Don Bosco which exudes joy and optimism, family spirit and striving for excellence.

Br. PM will never die in the memories of us - his ‘students’. We will always have to return to the ‘lessons he taught’ and ‘replenish our enthusiasm with his infectious zeal for the young and the poor’. Adieu Br. PM – Intercede with the Master for us who seek to follow your example of dedication, love and excellence.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

ADVENT VIRUS

(I could not resist posting this from an email sent by a friend...Happy Advent folks...)

WARNING……WARNING: ADVENT VIRUS

Be on the alert for symptoms of inner Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. The hearts of a great many have already been exposed to this virus and it is possible that people everywhere could come down with it in epidemic proportions. This could pose a serious threat to what has, up to now, been a fairly stable condition of conflict in the world.

Some signs and symptoms of The Advent Virus:

  • A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences.
  • An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.
  • A loss of interest in judging other people.
  • A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
  • A loss of interest in conflict.
  • A loss of the ability to worry. (This is a very serious symptom.)
  • Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
  • Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.
  • Frequent attacks of smiling.
  • An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.
  • An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it.
Please send this warning out to all your friends. This virus can and has affected many systems. Some systems have been completely cleaned out because of it.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

THE HIV PANDEMIC: CURRENT SCENARIO

" On the cusp of the fourth decade of the AIDS epidemic, the world has turned the corner - it has halted and begun to reverse the spread of HIV. The question remains how quickly the response can chart a new course towards UNAIDS’ vision of zero discrimination, zero new HIV infections, and zero AIDS-related deaths through universal access to effective HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

Since 1999, the year in which it is thought that the epidemic peaked, globally, the number of new infections has fallen by 19%. Of the estimated 15 million people living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries who need treatment today, 5.2 million have access - translating into fewer AIDS-related deaths. For the estimated 33.3 million people living with HIV after nearly 30 years into a very complex epidemic, the gains are real but still fragile. Future progress will depend heavily on the joint efforts of everyone involved in the HIV response.

At a time of financial constraint, good investments are more important than ever. The evidence supporting increased investment in the HIV response has never been clearer or more compelling. New data from 182 countries, along with extensive input from civil society and other sources, clearly show that steady progress is being made towards achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. HIV prevention is working. Treatment is working.

Increasing evidence definitively demonstrates that investments in the HIV response can lead to clear reductions in discrimination and stigma, help people in accessing information and services to reduce their risk of HIV infection, and deliver the treatment, care, and support that will extend and improve the lives of people living with HIV.”

(Taken from UNAIDS, Global report: UNAIDS report on the global AIDS epidemic 2010, Geneva: UNAIDS, 2010, 7.)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

BR. LUDVIK ZABRET GOES HOME TO GOD!

Just got this in a mail today:

Today in the Salesian community of Trstenik (Slovenia) passed away our confrere, Salesian Brother Ludvik Zabret (87), missionary in India for almost 60 years (1947-2005).

A couple of weeks ago he suffered a light stroke and he was confined to bed, but till the last moments he was conscious.

The funeral will take place in the Salesian parish church of Trstenik (see: http://www.donbosko.si/trstenik/?q=node/53) on November 3, 2010 at 3 PM. The interment after the funeral mass in the salesian tomb in Trstenik.

R. I. P.

Marjan Lamovsek

Provincial Secretary

Ljubljana, Slovenia: Oktober 30, 2010


I have some good memories of this hardy Salesian brother - tough as nails and gentle of heart...and have had the wonderful privilege of experiencing both. Here is one of his typical witty quips: "When I was young and joined religious life it was 'night prayers' and 'lights out' - Unfortunately today for some it is 'light prayers' and 'nights out'!!!"

We will miss you Br. Ludvik. May the Master always have you by his side to keep the heavenly banquet well-replenished. May you continue to bring mirth and good cheer to His Kingdom...Hurry now it's time to get things ready for the big "All Saint's banquet"

Monday, October 18, 2010

MEMORIES OF THE EIGHTH NATIONAL YOUTH CONVENTION

Here are some thoughts that came to my mind after being present for the unforgettable closing ceremonies of NYC-8 here in Shillong...

  • The numbers were stunning - a vast ocean of humanity congregated in the area around Calvary, near the grotto, around the Cathedral, on the roads and in the gardens, along the hill-side and any which way you looked...but for those who have attended the Annual Eucharistic Procession here in Shillong, most present were witnessing for the first time such a massive crowd for a Eucharistic celebration...
  • As usual the general tenor of devotion and recollection was never lost - there was a variety of dances and the cultural diversity of the North-east was aptly on display - but nothing could take away from the solemnity and decorum that befits the celebration of the Eucharist...
  • An outstanding choir bridged the gap between contemporary music and the rendering of some classical Latin chants (in their English equivalents)...
  • The apostolic nuncio Rev. Salvatore Pennacchio spoke beautifully in his homily inviting the youth and all present to be "grounded in faith" that is "nourished by prayer" in order to be "witnesses to the world". He definitely hit the right notes judging from the impact his words had on the young people gathered for the Eucharist...
  • The weather was fantastic - a cloud cover ensured that none would be tortured under the burning sun...and in the afternoon when nothing could dampen the spirits - the heavens poured out their cooling showers...
  • The cultural extravaganza that followed the lunch was a veritable feast for the eyes and the heart...The different north-eastern states provided glimpses of their rich heritage...There were speeches, too, and among the more memorable was that of Smt. Agatha Sangma, one of the youngest ministers of the Union Cabinet, who exhorted her contemporaries to a lived faith which would lead to making India a better place...
  • The crowd remained rooted to their places till the very end of the program which culminated in a prayerful benediction service and the handing over of the Cross to the Diocese of Jullunder - hosts of the next youth gathering...
  • I am certain that the entire concluding ceremony will be remembered fondly by all those present for a long time to come...It was testimony to a faith that has transformed the world based on the person of Jesus Christ...and the story goes on as the young people of today carry forward the mission of liberating the world...
  • Needless to say - we raise a prayer of thanks to God for this fantastic experience we have had and give a rousing applause to all those who made it all happen...
  • God bless all of you! ------- Kublei shibun!!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

YOUTH AND FUN - PART TWO

On 19 September we had another Youth Fest - this time for the other tribes of the Northeast - many of whom interact with our brothers every Sunday. Another wonderful time of togetherness when we reflected together on how God's word can make a difference in our lives...Here is a detailed report and here are some pictures of the event...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

THE FACE OF THE ‘MISSION’ TODAY…

What is the mission in the North-east really like? That is a question I have been longing to seek an answer to. When one looks at the institutional development in a city it is hard to fathom what the reality was before the missionaries came. Well, yesterday I had a chance to see first-hand what it must have been like as I took a trip to one of the oldest mission stations of Meghalaya – Mawkyndeng. The journey began early (5:30 am) and luck was on our side as the traffic was light on an otherwise busy road. We were in Jowai by 7:30 and at our destination by 8:15 – The regulars were shocked at how little time it had taken us to reach. They are used to more like 5 hours on the road.

The 'mission' compound is almost a self-contained unit, centred on education with a plethora of schools both formal and non-formal. The parish church is at the very centre of things (literally and metaphorically). There are two large boardings (one for girls run by the FMAs and the other for boys under the care of the SDBs). The school buildings give one the impression of solidity and seriousness. Even though it was a school holiday, one could see many children around the place. There is also a little pond and other structures that ensure safety and security to the compound. The greenery all around bears witness to a native ecological sensitivity that pre-dates our own feeble efforts on the issue today.Being at the mission to animate a recollection, I did not have much time to go around but I was impressed by the pioneering vision of those who chose this rather isolated and difficult terrain as the locus of a new 'kingdom'. They brought well-being and peace, they brought education and development. They strove hard in the face of unimaginable difficulties but never gave up. God bless them for their courage and God bless those to who continue the 'mission' there (and in other territory) that would daunt the faint-hearted.

Returning back after sunset on the journey home, I was lost in thought and my mind was filled with gratitude for the work done. So many sons and daughters of the soil now labor to bring the same message of peace and development, of well-being and education in other parts of the state of Meghalaya, in other parts of India and some even in other areas of the world. The fire that has been lit in 1882 now burns on - not just in the physical structures, but more especially in the hearts and minds of those who have been 'lit' and now carry the light onward.

Monday, September 13, 2010

YOUTH AND FUN…

This certainly seems to be a strange title to a blog entry but I could not help thinking that the two have come to be linked inextricably. And this Sunday it was played out before my eyes, when we had about 700 young people on our campus to celebrate the Annual Youth Fest that is hosted by our students of theology. These young people ranging in age from 15 to 25, are part of the 21 parish youth groups animated by our brothers every sunday. They are in college or working or somewhere in between these two phases. Many were here for the first time and it was evident that they had a good time.

At the inaugural session the Bible was enthroned and they were exhorted to "Live the Word – Liberate the World" both by the Word itself and then by our own local MLA and Minister of Urban Affairs – Mr. Founder Cajee. The latter, though not a Catholic, spoke in glowing terms of what he had learned from the Catholic Church, exhorting the youth to courageously live the values they are being taught. Then followed an interesting audio-visual presentation on some youth problems viz. drug addiction, sexual permissiveness and media indoctrination. Each young person present was challenged to bring light to the world rather than to curse the darkness. By mid-morning we were ready to enter into the Eucharistic celebration that was presided over by Fr. Sylvanus Nongkindrih. He used some real life situations to bring home the need that all Christians have to encounter the Word of God especially by reading and studying the Bible. After much food for thought – it was time to give some food to the bodies and so the youth gathered in different parts of the campus to enjoy a tasty meal prepared by some of the brothers along with the help of some volunteers.

During lunch many also had an opportunity to look at some of the interesting charts prepared on the theme: "Live the Word – Liberate the World". Some had also participated in an essay competition and submitted their entries which were evaluated and honoured with prizes. With a hectic morning over it was time to move to the more evidently fun part – the cultural program. It was now the turn of the youth to share with their peers their 'take' on the theme. And so they used song and dance to present the relevance of the theme to their lives and to simultaneously showcase their abundant talent. This was duly noted and complimented by our two important guests - Mr. Bindo Lanong (Deputy Chief Minister of Meghalaya) and Mr. A Hek (MLA) - both of whom encouraged the young to build their own future with hard work and social commitment.

While a great deal happened on the stage, it was evident that there was also another very enthusiastic group keeping the young people rocking as they swayed to the rhythm of the music between the various items. It was fun time and dance time…and it made the 4 hour-cultural pageant pass by in a breeze.

Before we knew it was time to close shop and to part ways. But not before we had time to share a few words to tell each other how much we had learned during the day and to promise our presence next year for the next youth fest. The brothers had a tiring day – on their feet coordinating the various parts of the program and looking after all the logistics that come with keeping a crowd of 700 alive, active and enthusiastic. That their efforts were well-rewarded was borne out by the happy and grateful faces of the young people who had enjoyed some fun moments and been motivated to 'live the Word and liberate the world' around them.

WELCOME PEOPLE....RELAX...READ ON...