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ALA_5452

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By our own correspondent
and Cl. Salvador Ebimesak, SDB (MOR)


Ivrea (Italy), Sirajuli (India), 24 August 2020 -- It's almost 100 years after the foundation of the first Salesian missionary aspirantate in Italy (Ivrea, some 50 km from Valdocco, Turin) launched by Blessed Philip Rinaldi, the third successor of Don Bosco and strong promoter of the missionary spirit and action in the Congregation. After the blooming and closure of the 10 missionary aspirantates in Europe, some 10 years ago two Salesian missionary aspirantates were launched in South Asia - India: one in Sirajuli (North East, province of Guwahati) and one in Perambur (South, province of Chennai). Recently also in the EAO region a systematic missionary aspirant path from Vietnam to Thailand was initiated.


We are happy to share an interview with one of the first fruits of these two Indian missionary aspirantates, Cl. Salvador EBIMESAK (originally from India-Tiruchy,25 years, since Sept 2019 belongs to the Middle East (MOR) province:


Missionary Aspirantate, Perambur - Chennai ( 2013-2014)


"The seed of vocation started to sprout through the instrumentality of my grandparents. While I was completing my higher secondary studies, I was called to attend the vocation camp the Salesians held at Tanjore Aspirantate, Tiruchy (INT), not interested though. I took part in the vocation camp where the theme of the camp attracted me ‘Come and See’. During those days Fr Pathiyaraj Rayappan was rector of the Missionary Aspirantate, Perambur, Chennai (INM), India. He was recruiting candidates interested in missions by displaying to us the missionary works carried out by Salesians in the different parts of the globe. Later I started my Salesian formation at the Missionary Aspirantate, Perambur, Chennai (INM).


We were the second batch since the opening of the house, yet, they guided us very well. The formation in this community lasted for ten months along with one month of missionary experience in the Salesian missions of Northeast India. We were four of us who had completed their higher secondary studies and there were nearly 12 who were attending school to complete their schooling. The community comprised 8 Salesians including the practical trainees. The Rector and the Dean of studies were directly in charge of us. There were classes taken to equip us with the knowledge of Salesiana, catechism, basics of music, and the English language. Besides the rector was giving us a conference once a week. Moreover, he made sure that we made our manifestation with him at least once a month without fail. Many missionary inputs were given to us, namely, 11th of every month - the Salesian Missionary Day, along with prayer services, interacting with the missionaries coming for vacation from the mission, documentaries on missionary works etc.


At the end of the academic year before could depart for the summer vacation, we were sent to the interior missions of the Province of Guwahati (ING), Northeast India. This experience lasted for one month wherein everyone had been sent in twos to the interior villages of the Province where the Salesians work with the indigenous people. During this one month, we witnessed the tiring missionary work of the Salesians who travel long hours sometimes even into woods to offers the Sacraments. Since the villages were far-flung and the lack of priests forced the faithful to receive the Sacraments either not so frequently or once a month that highlighted to us the need for missionaries.


Hubert D’Rosario Missionary Aspirantate, Sirajuli, Assam (2014-2015)


We were the third batch since the opening of this community. The community was comprised of seven Salesians - including three practical trainees - and there were nearly 45 aspirants and 24 prenovices from about six different provinces of India.


The aspirants had classes to complete their schooling. We had other subjects pertaining to Pre-novitiate formation. We were also introduced to Italian, given that it is the common language of the Congregation. Even here, the rector was inviting missionaries to address us about the mission place where they were working. Since the Pre-novitiate formation is focused on human formation, more than half the day we were working in the fields, farms, and other manual works in the community, without sacrificing any formation and its perspective. The rector was focusing more on the human maturity of each one of us, interacting with everyone, and spending more time to know each personally and listen to their problems, both psychological and physical. During this year, he also conducted a Psychological assessment for us in order to know the Psychological maturity and Characteristic personality of each one. After this one year of Pre-novitiate, we were promoted to Novitiate and were sent to different novitiates in 3 different provinces. To conclude, I would like to say that this year of formation focused more on human formation without sacrificing other aspects of Salesian formation.


As for me, these two years helped me to discern my vocation and learn English well. I would rather say that the formators have achieved their goal in forming us. Once again, to share the personalized reflection about this year, there are just three things I would underscore, namely, work, personal prayer and discernment. As mentioned, we spent most of the day doing manual works in the Pre-novitiate yet still I cherish those moments. I would like to say that I fell in love with work in the Pre-novitiate. Though at times I was tired and bored doing the same work at the end of the day I had nothing I would rather do than spending some time in personal prayer which could sound very dramatic but it is the truth. The moments that I spend in personal prayer I still remember - praying to know the plan of God in my life and for several other intentions. There was the simple trick that my rector taught me, to prepare a chart for the people for whom I wanted to pray, and I spent most of my prayer time using this simple technique. I am really grateful to these two communities for helping me to be rooted firmly in my missionary vocation. Perhaps, what I am at the moment is the fruit of the work of the formators who were there during those years.


These two houses really acted as a germination period for me and I want to see them growing and serve the purpose for which they were founded. There is a mistake from our part when we were not in touch with the communities by way of letters to the aspirants and some short visits when the time permits. These could have served as a tool for the aspirants to inspire themselves and to grow in their vocation. In the beginning, these communities became the talk of the year and slowly fell off to the periphery. The scope of the communities started to become hazy. All this may sound exaggerated, but, they are some of my anxieties too. I pray and hope that these two communities restart to bloom again and serve the congregation by forming many missionaries."


Related video presentation: FRUIT OF FAITH (6 minutes)


Related news:

AustraLasia 4947: God's Love compels us (Sirajuli aspirant to Ukraine)



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