MUMBAI, AUGUT 26, 2008: An air of expectation filled the hall at Provincial House, Matunga, as Fr. Maria Arokiam, Regional Councillor for South Asia, took his place on the dais at 7.00 pm on Monday, August 25, to address the Salesians of the Mumbai Province. Fr. Michael Fernandes, Provincial, extended a warm welcome to Fr. Maria Arokiam who is on his first visit to the province as Regional. Fr. Sal D’Souza, the senior most member of the province, presented a bouquet of flowers to the visiting Councillor. Fr. Maria Arokiam began by speaking about his election to the post of Regional Councillor. Describing himself as an “unlikely candidate” for this exalted position, he said that since he had now been entrusted this job, he intended to do it to the best of his ability. He then went on to present some news on major events happening in the congregation. Referring to the South Asian Region, he expressed his happiness at the growth and quality of services being rendered by the Salesians. Next, the Regional made a brief comment on the Strenna for 2009. He reminded the gathering that in 2009 we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Salesian Congregation. On this occasion, the Rector Major through the Strenna, has chosen to focus on the Salesian Family. Fr. Maria Arokiam was of the opinion that in India we need to find relevant ways of involving the entire Salesian Family in our work for disadvantaged youngsters. The Regional then proceeded to present the Six Year Plan of the Congregation, with special focus on priorities for South Asia. On the theme of “Return to Don Bosco” he said that DBRC Bangalore would be introducing a new three months course on Don Bosco and Salesian Spirituality. He added that online courses on this topic would also soon become available. On “Evangelization and Vocations” he highlighted the need for inter-religious dialogue and for furthering the Volunteer Movement for young people. Speaking about “New Frontiers” he stressed the need to enter into “public space”. He called on the Salesians to give greater visibility to their works and not to shy away from entering into fora that would enable them play a role in public policy making. Fr. Maria Arokiam concluded his talk by highlighting certain core competencies of the Mumbai Province which he felt should be put at the service of Salesian India and the Congregation. He singled out the expertise of the province in the Strategic Planning and Development sector and the Communications sector. He also felt that the province had significant experience in the fields of Youth at Risk, Vocational Training and Psychological Services. He was of the opinion that these core competencies should be systematized by creating Institutes of Higher Learning and Research in these particular fields. The evening came to a close with the Provincial thanking Fr. Maria Arokiam for his visit to the province.