“If you want to aim for the shining stars, you need to raise your bars,” was the message the Rector Major of the Salesian congregation, Rev. Fr. Pascual Chavez Villanueva, wrote for a young autograph seeker. Soaring optimism and an immense zest for life and progress was the image and impression, the Rector Major, the 9th successor of Don Bosco, left on the youth and all of us, during his visit to the province of Kolkata on the eve of 5th November, 2013 in the Don Bosco School, Liluah grounds.
The Rector Major, Rev. Fr. Pascual Chavez Villanueva, accompanied by his Vicar, Rev. Fr. Adriano Bregolin and the Regional Councillor of South-East Asia, Fr. Maria Arokiam Kanaga arrived from Don Bosco, Mirpara at around 5:00 p.m. Rev. Fr. Pascual Chavez Villanueva was escorted to the stage by the parishioners performing an Adivasi dance and the Salesian priests of the province, as a 5000 strong crowd of young Bosconians, students, parents and parishioners thronged on either side and the ambience resounded with the entrance hymn “To God be the glory…”. Fr. Thomas Ellecherial, the Provincial of the Kolkata Province, enlightened us on the milestones in the life of our Rector Major, that paved his path to this hallowed position.
The Rector Major then presided over the Holy Eucharist, aided by the other Salesian priests. The Holy Mass was conducted in Hindi, Bengali and English with readings from the Holy Bible in the three languages. It also included a Santhali hymn. At the end of the mass the Rector Major sought the blessings of the Almighty for the gathered congregation and the Catholics received their Holy Communion. He urged the celebrants to strive to be good shepherds like Jesus, to follow the footsteps of Don Bosco as he did of Jesus and to devote their lives to the service of the youth. The congregation responded to the “Prayer of the Faithful”, through the intercession of St. John Bosco. The priests left the stage with the chanting of the Recessional Hymn “O Don Bosco, hear thy Children……”
The Rector Major returned to watch the felicitation programme put up by the youth of the Kolkata province, which included songs by the choir of Don Bosco, Liluah, a colourful fusion dance by the girls of Auxilium Dum Dum, a beautiful dance performance by the girls of “Mayer Asha”, Ashalayam and a song and instrumental performance put together by the young seminarians from Don Bosco, Bandel and Azimgang. What followed was the felicitation of the Rector Major, his Vicar and the Regional Councillor of South-East Asia by representatives from the student and teaching communities, the staff and the parish.
The interactive session that followed, conducted by the Vice Provincial of the Kolkata province Rev. Fr. Jose Pampadiyil, saw the Rector Major tackling questions of his followers with characteristic grace and nobility. When asked how one evangelized the youth in this age of technology and its sometimes negative influence, he irrevocably proved through his answer, why he is the vibrant, ever youthful leader of the progressive youth of today. The ever smiling Rector Major promptly replied that he had 10000 followers on Facebook and 5000 on Twitter. Technology was a very useful way of coming close to the youth of today. The Rector Major advised today’s youth to be like the salmon that overcomes all hurdles by flowing against the tide to spawn in the river and thus secure the future of its off-springs.
With the delivery of the vote of thanks by the Rector of don Bosco, Liluah, Fr. Biji Thomas, all gathered, proceeded to a sumptuous dinner arranged by the alumni of Don Bosco, Liluah. The programme concluded with numerous sky lanterns and fire crackers illuminating the night sky, a befitting commemoration of the Rector Major of Don Bosco.