by Brother Royston Colaco
KAPADVANJ, FEB 21, 2018: The Coadjutor Salesians or Lay Brothers of the Salesian Mumbai province came together for a two day on-going formation animation workshop entitled 'Salesian; Be a Faithful Witness' at the Don Bosco Campus Kapadvanj on February 17 and 18.
At a time when the Salesian congregation as a whole is grappling with the dynamics of vocational fragility and the rate of attrition the world over, and more especially when trying to come to grips with the dwindling numerical paucity of those wishing to embrace and commit themselves to a life-long bond of Religious witnessing either as priests or coadjutors, a workshop of this nature was timely, relevant and essential. Organised under the auspices of the INB Lay Brothers Association, headed by Brother Royston Colaco, the workshop focused on the call, the response and the faithful living out of one's vocation as a Salesian religious following Christ the Don Bosco way.
The resource facilitator Father Chris Valentino animated the compact group of Coadjutor Salesians through the two days with short inputs, open discussions, facilitating critical reflection on various concerns, enabling a sincere self-assessment and rethinking the Salesian fidelity to Don Bosco as expounded through the history of the Salesian congregation. Going down memory lane, the Coadjutor Salesians embarked on a reflective journey starting from the mind of Don Bosco as carried forward by Don Rua, upheld by Don Paul Albera and as expounded with great clarity by Don Rinaldi. The Coadjutor Salesians refocused on the directive of the Salesian Congregational General Chapter 22, #9 that invited a relook at the "vocational identity of the lay Salesian, its essential significance for the life and mission of the Salesian congregation in the light of present-day thinking in the Church."
"The innovative revolutionary concept of Don Bosco as evolved over the years, integrating itself into the complex societal service as envisioned by the Salesians of Don Bosco over the years is as relevant to the educative-pastoral style as per the needs of our times," Father Valentino, said. Drawing from Don Bosco's talk to the tradesmen and artisans at Valdocco as reported in the Biographical Memoirs XII, XIV, XVI, XVIII and from the express desire of the Special General Chapter 149, the Coadjutor Salesians reflected on their specific call within today's context.
The Brothers also discussed at length Point 10 of the General Chapter 27 which explicitly mentions the "low appreciation of the meaning of our consecrated life which is seen in a weak concern for the Salesian Brother vocation [... and the] excessive clericalism so often manifested in our community and pastoral relationships," in conjunction with Point 69/7 that invites the following of the guideline from General Chapter 26, followed by "continuing reflection both on the consecrated life aspect and the specific nature of the Brothers with regard to fraternal life and the mission."
As a preparation in the build-up for the upcoming South Asia Brothers' Congress scheduled from December 30, 2018 – January 03, 2019 at Bengaluru, the Brothers of the Salesian Mumbai province proposed a few resolutions for themselves both within the province and within the context of South Asia. As per the observations, a few suggestions emerged with regard to overhauling the time-table framework of the Congress, the production and dissemination of animation notes to all the Salesian communities, a social media/digital presence to enable greater reflection and highlight the contributive aspect of the Coadjutor Salesian over the years and if possible a prayer for the fruitfulness for the Brothers Congress.
At the end of the two-day workshop, the Coadjutors expressed their sincere appreciation to the host community at Kapadvanj and their indebtedness to the facilitator for a genuine self-appraisement and focussed furthering of the complementary Salesian presence as a powerful witness of fidelity and service. Reflecting on the workshop, Brother Titus said, "This was a wonderful moment for us to come together and focus on the concerns as expressed by the congregation and as felt by us as we work in various capacities." Brother Ramesh said, "We are always discussing on various issues, it has been happening for years; perhaps now it is time to upgrade ourselves reflecting on the way forward in these competitive times through animation and determined efforts to be relevant to the modern youth." Brother Anthony Manickam said, "We are a group of people who have always focussed on work. It is time to be also catechists, faith-formators and spiritual guides who are model witnesses to daily spirituality and thus bring our boys and girls to the faith."
These two days of reflection and sharing has boosted the brothers to rise up, support, encourage, enable and accompany each other in the endeavour to be faithful witnesses of the Salesian Coadjutor Vocation.