|India – Don Bosco received with respect|
|India - The Casket at Don Bosco Shrine Matunga|
(ANS – Odxel) – In the second half of August the journey of Don Bosco’s casket continued in the “Blessed José Vaz” Indian Province of Panjim (INP), with headquarters in Odxel. The various stops at Salesian centres contributed to making the story of Don Boaco and the Salesian charism better known among the people.
There was a large and deeply spiritual participation of the faithful at the numerous occasions for the veneration of the relics of Don Bosco after they arrived on 16 August the anniversary of his birth.
At the “Don Bosco Oros”, where the casket stopped on 17 August, about 2,000 people each day had been expected but in fact the average number was about 5,000 faithful each day. Along the road between Oros and Panjim the crowd gathered spontaneously and followed the relics in procession all the way for about 10 km.
At Panjim the Mass alone on the first day was attended by over 3,000 people and the faithful continued to arrive in their thousands throughout the day. In addition to the Christians, many Hindus, Muslims and members of other faiths joined the line of those venerating the relics. An estimate by the local Salesians put the figure at an average of 50,000 each day.
At Don Bosco Fatorda, in the south of Goa, in a mainly Catholic area, the Salesian community, the past pupils and volunteers had to keep finding new ways to accommodate the flow of pilgrims in numbers far higher than expected. In addition, in all these places the collaboration of the police and other local services was most encouraging and a great help.
Also in the Karnataka region the devotion of the faithful was expressed in their large numbers. Fr Felix Serrao, Rector of Sirsi, said that the response of the pilgrims was double that expected, and the short journey to Trasi, had to be extended further because of the crowds of faithful who gathered.
The final stage at Shirva was similarly successful with numerous groups of pilgrims who had made their own arrangements beforehand to spend time in prayer in front of the relics and ask for the intercession of Don Bosco.
Over a 100 years of the presence of the Salesians in India have made the Salesian charism known and appreciated by many people Christians and non-Christians alike, who consider him a valuable guide on the way to holiness. The veneration of the relics in the Province represents a new impetus to continue in the spirit of joyful Christian witness.