Elias Diaz sdb MUMBAI, APRIL 28, 2009: The Third South Asian Regional Congress of the Salesian Cooperators was held at Sacred Heart Seminary, Chennai from April 24 to 26, 2009. Present for the Congress were the World Delegates of the Cooperators Fr. Stjepan Bolkovac sdb and Sr. Maria Trigila fma; Fr. K. J. Lewis, South Asian Regional Delegate; Mr. Cajetan Mahung, World Consultant and over 250 Cooperators from various parts of India, including two from Kuwait. The Congress began with a colourful Inaugural Ceremony which included the hoisting of the Congress Flag by Fr. Stjepan Bolkovac and the lighting of the Congress Lamp by Sr. Maria Trigila. Addressing the Cooperators from the various provinces of South Asia, Fr. Bolkovac exhorted them to keep their eyes on Don Bosco and their ears tuned to the world around them, particularly the world of the young. Sr. Mary Ann Fernando fma, Provincial of Chennai, invited the Cooperators to understand the uniqueness of their vocation and respond to it with total commitment. Fr. K.J. Lewis, the South Asian Delegate, described the Cooperators as men and women in the world at the heart of the Church, and simultaneously, men and women in the Church at the heart of the world. Delivering the Keynote Address on the Congress theme “Returning to Don Bosco and Returning to the Young”, Fr. Thomas Anchukandam, Provincial of Bangalore, called on the Cooperators to become aware of the world and the forces that shape it and to respond to them in the way Don Bosco wanted them to do. This, he said, requires from the Cooperators a profound understanding of Don Bosco on one hand and the world on the other. He invited them to cultivate the vision of Don Bosco, understand his mind and translate his charism into action in their daily lives. Following the key notes address, Sr. Margaret Mathia fma, from the Bangalore Province, presented a well researched paper, leading the Cooperators to a deeper reflection on the socio-cultural context of youth in South Asia. This was followed by another thought provoking paper on ‘Interpreting Don Bosco for the E-Generation’ by Fr. Thomas Tharayil sdb. Mr. A. B. Bosco, a Cooperator from the Bangalore Province, spoke on the political and religious aspects of the youth. During the Congress, fresh elections were held for different posts and responsibilities in the organization of the Cooperators. Ms. Freida D’Souza from the Bombay Province was elected as Coordinator of the South Indian Conference. Ms. Claudine Pinto and Mr. Wilfred Rebello were elected as Secretary and Treasurer respectively. Mr. K.V. Francis from the Calcutta Province was elected as World Counsellor. After reflecting on the theme of the Congress, which was presented by four speakers, the Cooperators unanimously adopted an Action Plan, with the firm resolve to put it into practice during the next six years. The first prong of the plan aims at realizing a return to Don Bosco, while the second prong brings out a number of ways in which the Cooperators could return to the young. On the last day of the Congress, Fr. Stanislaus Swamikannu, Provincial of Chennai, presided over the Eucharistic celebration. He reminded the Cooperators of the complementary nature of each group in the Salesian Family. Delivering the homily, Fr. Amalraj Susai, Provincial of Tiruchy, said that the charism of Don Bosco is not the monopoly of the Salesians, but is a gift shared by all the groups in the Salesian Family. The curtain came down on the Congress with the ceremonial lowering of the Congress Flag by Fr. Stanislaus Swamikannu. The flag was received by the outgoing Counsellor who handed it over to World Counsellor, who in turn gave it to the newly elected World Counsellor Mr. K. V. Francis. Ms. Freida D’Souza proposed the vote of thanks. Special thanks were rendered to the Chennai Province for hosting the Congress, and to Fr. Deva Joe, Sr. Mana Puskpam and Mr. Adrian Vassou for their hard work and spirit of dedication which made the Congress a resounding success.