MUMBAI, OCTOBER 7, 2013: In the presence of Salesians, members of the Salesian Family, relatives, family and close friends, the leadership baton of Salesian Mumbai was today passed on to Fr. Godfrey D'Souza during the Eucharistic celebration, held at the Shrine of Don Bosco's Madonna – Matunga. Fr. Michael Fernandes, the outgoing Provincial, presided over the Eucharist. Fr. Ian Figueiredo and Fr. Raphael Jayapalan (provincials of the Konkan and Chennai provinces respectively) concelebrated with over a hundred other Salesian Priests to thank God for the leadership and animation role exercised by Fr. Michael Fernandes over the last six-year period (2008-2013) and to welcome Fr. Godfrey D'Souza as the 10th Provincial of the Mumbai province.
Soon after the Gospel, Fr. Michael read the decree of appointment from the Rector Major, and later in his homily, focused on the Gospel invitation to 'tend my sheep' and 'remain in me' as essential dimensions of leadership, animation and governance. He took the opportunity to thank God for the graces received to lead the 'Return to Don Bosco' in the Mumbai Province. Congratulating Fr. Godfrey, after he solemnly professed the faith, Fr. Fernandes wished the new Provincial fruitfulness and success in his new office. The young choir of St. Dominic Savio – Andheri, tinged with a little sadness in their hearts to let go of their Rector, sang their hearts out to cheer the new Provincial. "Andheri's loss is the Mumbai Province's gain," remarked a representative of the past pupils.
After the Eucharist, family and friends proceeded to the Don Bosco High School undercroft to felicitate Fr. Godfrey D'Souza on his installation as Provincial, and to bid goodbye and thanks to Fr. Michael Fernandes. Fr. Ajoy Fernandes, vice-provincial, raised a toast to salute Fr. Michael - affectionately called Mike – for his 'labour of love' built on faith, vision, integrity, responsibility, industry, consistency and courage, keeping in mind the Salesian mission and the good of the Province and every confrere! A short video presentation implored God's blessings on Fr. Mike. Fr. Mike thanked his Council Members and Provincial Delegates for their whole-hearted support. He had a word of appreciation for all the Salesians and members of the Salesian family too. Fr. Godfrey presented a well prepared citation and memento to Fr. Mike as a sign of appreciation.
Fr. Ajoy also raised a toast to Fr. Godfrey, who brings to his office his vast experience as a missionary in East Africa, his unbounded Salesian love for the young, his creative and cheerful personality, his pastoral concern for vocations and care of every Salesian, his capacity to listen and lead with a heart, and his interpersonal skills for networking and creating effective teams. In thanking God and Fr. Pascual Chavez, Rector Major of the Salesian Congregation, for this noble opportunity to serve, he is assured by the words 'His Grace is sufficient for me'!
Fr. Jayapalan, provincial of the Chennai province added a personal touch of appreciation and welcomed him with a shawl and memento, on behalf of the Salesian Provincial Conference of South Asia (SPCSA). Floral tributes were also presented by the members of the Salesian Family and Sr. Wilma DeSouza, FMA Mumbai provincial.
Fr. Ajoy later proposed the vote of thanks to one and all. An impromptu Salesian band added a pleasant musical touch to the evening. Br. Mylin Noronha, student of theology, also did a marvellous job as Master of Ceremonies!