Report on the National Conference

Report on the National Conference

Report on the National Conference on the theme of Identifying avenues of Salesian Campus Ministry in all the Salesian Higher Education Institutions of South Asia and the Annual General Body Meeting.

23rd to 25thof October, 2015, at Don Bosco Provincial House, New Delhi.

The IUS- DBHEI National Conference began at 9.15am on the first day with Prayer song played over the LCD. Rev. Fr. Robert Simon from the DBYA department of SPCSA, New Delhi presided over the inaugural session. In the absence of the New Delhi Provincial and the Vice Provincial, Rev Fr Joy Jacob, the Rector of the Provincial House welcomed the gathering. Fr Maria Soosai, the Secretary of DBHEI introduced the theme and the purpose of the Conference.

The members were asked to introduce each other, with their designation and the institutions they represent. It was a good beginning. A message from the General Coordinator, Rev Bro. Mario Olmos was read by Fr Robert Simon. In his Presidential speech, Fr Robert Simon, spoke of the Salesian accompaniment which made some of the students to come back, even after they leave the college or the institution. Such is the impact of the practice. The contribution of the South Asia Region in the next General Assembly on the theme of Campus Ministry could be significant, if approached well, he said.

The inaugural session was followed by the First Session presided over by the same chair person Fr Robert Simon. The resource person of this session was Dr Daniel Ezhilarasu , the Secretary of AIACHE( All India Association of Christian Higher Education) New Delhi. Mr. Daniel was a student of one of our schools in the INM Province. In his talk he remembered the saying of Saint Dominic Savio to Don Bosco, namely, “I am the cloth, you are the tailor, make me a beautiful garment, for Jesus Christ”. He shared as, India is a land of paradoxes, parents in India prefer their children to study in Christian institutions, good religious practices, committed staff, and better campus ministry makes a good campus culture. He spoke on the new spirituality and faith formation, contextualization, interpretation of the word of God through information technology, strategizing, fostering creativity and free thinking in creating a relevant campus ministry and arriving at a meaningful campus culture. The session was concluded with a few questions from the audience which were answered by the resource person. A shawl and a memento were given to the resource person.

The second session was chaired by Rev. Fr Mathew Pulingathil, the Rector and Secretary of Salesian Colleges of Sonada and Siliguri. He introduced the resource person of the session, Rev. Fr Joe Mannath, the National Secretary of CRI India, New Delhi. Fr Joe Mannath shared with the participants the teachings of the Catholic Church on the Higher Education, through the three Church documents on Higher Education.
From his experience as the formatter of students of Philosophy and Theology, as University Professor, as a Psychologist and now as the executive secretary of the Catholic Religious of India, he was able to share a lot. Having known our settings, it was rather relevant to listen to him. He gave a hand out on the three Church documents that deal with higher education and commented upon it.

In our settings, the campus ministry is not taken seriously; we are very fond of doing social work only. We should provide to the people what the Governments do not provide. We can learn more from the American settings rather than the European settings, because of America being a leading English speaking world, we stand to gain. Young people are rather generous, want to give to others what they received, by being volunteers. Young people often say, that we, priests and nuns do not reflect Jesus Christ.

Harward University was started by a small Church unit. Till now Salesian ministry was limited to children and adolescents. Only now we are moving towards the youth and young adults. At the end of the session, questions were asked by the participants and clarified.

In the afternoon session at 3.pm, Fr Joy Ullattil, the Provincial coordinator of the Bangalore Province, presided over the session and introduced Fr Thaddeus Singarayan, the resource person to speak on the theme of Campus Ministry in the Salesian Documents. He spoke on the history and formation of the IUS, identity of the Salesian higher education institution and on the Policies for later years. At the end of the session questions were clarified.

In the evening at 5.30pm, the session on Situation of the Campus Ministry in DBHEI institutions- outcome of the survey was presented by Fr Maria Soosai. The session was chaired and introduced by Fr Benny Mathew, of the Province of Hyderabad. During the session Fr Maria soosai introduced the Questionnaire and its parts and the responses received by 15 of the 44 institutions. As the responses were not complete, he requested the institutions which have not sent in responses to send, and a final consolidation alone could complete the survey. The consolidated report could be sent to all the institutions.

At the 6.30 pm session, Fr Wilfred Fernandez, the Joint secretary of the DBHEI, and the Provincial Coordinator of the Panjim Province, presided and coordinated the Province wise presentations of the Best Practices on Salesian Campus Ministry. There were three presentations by Sonada Salesian College, West Bengal, and Don Bosco College, Maram, Manipur, and Sacred Heart College, Tirupattur.

The second day’s programme, 24th October, started at 9.05am with a prayer song played over the LCD followed by a photo presentation of the first day’s programme. Then the session began. The resource person of this session was Mrs. Mary E John, a member of UGC Task Force, Centre for Women’s Development studies, New Delhi. The session was chaired by Fr Sebastian Karottupuram, Rector and Principal, Don Bosco College Maram, Province of Dimapur. He introduced the resource person and the topic: Gender Sensitization in the College/ University campuses: Problems and Recommendations.

She shared about the increase of women in the public places, offices and work places, the situation in the rural and Urban India, the effort of UGC to promote policies, the socialization practice the students go through, the need for conscientization of all people coming into the campuses etc. Questions were clarified at the end of the session. There was a good interaction as the questions raised were very relevant. After this session, a few more presentations were made on the best practices.
The 11.00am session was chaired by Fr Antonyraj Chinnappan, Rector and Secretary of Sacred Heart College, Tirupattur. It was a group work on the theme of Identification of Elements and guidelines for a model on Campus Ministry in the DBHEI Institutions. The members were grouped into four, basing on the geographical nature and closeness of the Provinces. They are: INM and INT Provinces, INB and INP Provinces, INK and INH Provinces, and INC, ING, IND, and INS Provinces. This could help in the future follow up of the discussion and decisions arrived at. Sufficient time was given for the discussion. In the afternoon, at 2.30pm, the synthesis of the group works were presented and the assembly discussed and clarified and added more points to the group discussion points.

At 4.30pm a separate session on the theme: Tech Leap for DBHEI was held. Fr Joby Joseph, the Treasurer of the DBHEI and the Vice Principal of St Antony’s College, Shillong presided over the session and introduced the resource person Mr Neil D’ Souza, Zaya Labs, Mumbai.
Mr Neil is an old student of Don Bosco, Panjim and so he was able to understand and give what we require from him. He spoke of the gap in the Higher Education sector. He spoke of Khan Academy, MOOC- Massive open online course, coursera that offer as many as 7000 online courses with a very reasonable fee, Udacity offers computer related courses etc.
In the evening we were invited by Fr Joe Mannath for a dinner in the nearby CRI House. As one among us, we were able to enjoy the friendly meal offered by Fr Joe.

On the third day, 25th October, The annual General Body meeting began at 9.10am and ended at 11.15am. The Director of DBYA Fr Maria Charles presided over the meeting. 20 institutions from nine Provinces were represented in the General Body meeting.

They are: Don Bosco College Dharmapuri, Don Bosco College Yelagiri, Sacred Heart College, Tirupattur, Don Bosco College Karaikkal, St Mary’s College of Education, Katpadi, SIGA Polytechnic College, Chennai, of INM Province, Don Bosco College Panjim and Don Bosco Agricultural College, Sulkorna of Panjim of the Panjim Province, St Antony’s College Shillong, of Silchar Province, Salesian College in Kolkatha Province, Don Bosco College, Sulthan Bathery, Don Bosco College Angaadikadavu, Don Bosco College Mampetta, Don Bosco College of Education Yadgir, Karnataka, of Bangalore Province, Assam Don Bosco University, Province of Guwahati, Don Bosco College, Maram of Dimapur Province, Don Bosco College, Narsipatnam, Province of Hyderabad, Don Bosco Institute of Technology, Mumbai Province.

Attendance was taken and signed.
The report of the previous AGM was read and passed. Then the points of the agenda were taken up for discussion one by one. It was felt that the participants number was going down. It was explained, as not a willful absence, but because of many Bicentenary national level celebrations, lot of persons were moving around, which may be one of the reasons for their absence.

The DBHEI President has to be finalized by the SPCSA in the forth coming SPCSA standing committee meeting. We will continue to use the term IUS, and not its English equivalent, as the same term has been used in the World over. We need to complete the Survey on the Campus Ministry and collect subscription from the remaining institutions. The consolidated campus ministry results should be circulated among us for learning from other institutions best practices. The web site has to be made functional and information should be up loaded as much as possible by the web team headed by Fr Thaddeus. An overall amount, equivalent to 1000 USD may be paid as subscription to the IUS Rome, every year. It is not for one membership for DBHEI, but for all the contributing institutions’ individual membership. The remaining subscriptions should be mobilized by the Province level coordinators and forwarded to the treasurer at the earliest.

In the event of Fr Jose Koyickal, executive member of DBHEI, becoming the Vice Provincial of the Bangalore Province, Fr Joy Ullattil, the Rector and Principal of Don Bosco College, Sulthan Bathery, Province Coordinator, was unanimously chosen to replace him.
The next Annual Conference and the AGM could be had in St Antony’s College, Shillong, Silchar Province. The proposed theme for the next meet was suggested as: Net Working the Practical way( day one) and Lay staff empowerment with Technology( day two).

Fr Joby Joseph the treasurer, presented the accounts for the Conference and it was passed. A part of the deficit of Rs 25,000 was contributed by DBYA, New Delhi. Thanks to Fr Maria Charles for his generosity. Vote of thanks was proposed by Fr Thaddeus, executive member. Mementos and certificates were distributed to the participants and evaluation sheets were distributed and collected back. The meeting came to a close at 11.15am.

Fr A. Maria Soosai, Secretary of DBHEI

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