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India: Kolkata Salesians to mark centenary celebration

The Salesian province of Kolkata is all set to begin three years of centenary celebrations, starting with the opening ceremony here under the Mantle of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Bandel Basilica on May 27, 2023.

The province's headquarters is in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), in the West Bengal state of eastern India. 

"On May 28, 1926, the Salesian Missions all over India were brought under the Juridical Body of the Salesian Province of India, with Msgr. Louis Mathias as the Provincial," said Fr. Chempakathinal George, the coordinator of the centenary celebrations. 

Though the Salesians had already set foot in Thanjavur, south India, in 1906, it was only in 1925 that three Salesians from the Assam mission, Fr. Paul Bonardi, Fr. Joseph Gil, and Br. Peter Aprile were officially sent to Calcutta to begin the work of Don Bosco. 

Monsignor Ferdinand Perier SJ, Archbishop of Calcutta, offered the Salesians the charge of the Catholic Orphan Press (COP) and the care of the Cathedral Parish in Calcutta.

On May 27, 2023, the final day of the province's 100th anniversary, Archbishop Thomas D'souza of Calcutta will preside over the Holy Eucharist in the Basilica of Our Lady of Happy Voyage in Bandel. A cultural extravaganza will follow at the Don Bosco School Auditorium in Bandel.

A neighborhood in the West Bengali state of India called Bandel is in the Hooghly district.

Youth from different parishes and mission zones have been invited, along with Salesians, to be part of this grand opening ceremony. 

With this, the Salesians of Kolkata province will officially begin the three-year celebration culminating on May 28, 2026. 

In these three years, the province will reflect on the formation themes in the first year, mission in the second year, and celebration in the third year. 

Since its foundation in 1926, the Salesian Province of Kolkata has grown and helped in the growth of 10 provinces in India. 

In the 36 centers of the province, Salesians work among youngsters in academic and technical education, including street children, juvenile delinquents, migrants, slum dwellers, young prisoners, jobless people, and school dropouts. 

Now, over 3000 Salesians are working in 300 institutions across India. -Santosh Digal


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