India – 8th Congress of Salesian Brothers of South Asia: Identity, Visibility, and Credibility

07 January 2019

(ANS – Bangalore) – The 8th Congress of the Salesian Brothers of South Asia held at Don Bosco Skill Mission, Bangalore, from 30 December 2018 to 3 January 2019 elected Br Jose Puthenpurackel of Calcutta province as the new national delegate for Salesian Brothers in South Asia region comprising of India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh.

Br Puthenpurackel succeeds Br Biju Joseph Poonamkavil of Dimapur province as delegate.

The theme of the 5-day Congress was: “Salesian, be a Faithful Witness”. A total of 130 Salesians participated in the congress, including 98 Brothers and 32 priests. 

After serving as Vice-Principal and Principal of prestigious educational institutions of Calcutta province at Park Circus and Liluah, Br Puthenpurackel is currently on an education mission as Principal of the first co-education Secondary School in Calcutta province among the Santal tribals of Murshidabad district at Azimganj. 

Br Puthenpurackel, 47, who holds three Masters Degrees in Sociology & Social Anthropology; Psychology, and Management - besides two post-graduate diplomas in Human Resource Management, and School Leadership and Management - believes in providing quality education opportunities for tribal children.

In the past two and half years, Br Puthenpurackel, with the help of Don Bosco Alumni of earlier institutions where he served, and with the help of friends and well-wishers, was able to set up a library with a large collection of academic books in English and Bengali, a computer lab with 30 computers, a 8,500 sq. ft. assembly hall area, and bring about a total transformation in the school infrastructure and academic progress. 

Br Puthenpurackal does not hesitate to say, “The school that used to have failures every year in the Board Examinations has for the past two years not only had 100% of the students passing the boards, even produced a state topper from the ST category - Miss Roshni Hasda from this school. To impart skill training to senior girls along with academics, a tailoring unit with 30 machines too has been set up.”

Former Dean of Studies at Don Bosco Vidyaniketan Kalyani and Salesian College Sonada, Br Puthenpurackel believes that, “given the facilities and training, Santal tribal children can compete with their peers in any other prestigious English medium schools.”

Speaking about his plans for the Salesians Brothers of the region for the next five years, Br Puthenpurackel says that a concerted effort would be made, “to promote the vocation of the Salesian brother and make it known among priests and the faithful besides helping brothers to deepen their Identity, Visibility, and Credibility.”

Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore, Salesian Bishop George Rajendran of Thukalay, General Councillor for Formation Fr Ivo Coelho, Economer General from Rome Br Jean Paul Muller, and Regional Councillor for South Asia Fr Maria Arokiam Kanaga, along with all 12 Salesian provincials of the region, graced the 8th Brothers Congress with their presence at various moments.

The regional superior Fr Maria Arokiam Kanaga delivered the Presidential Address while Economer General Br Jean Paul Muller gave the key note address stressing “the identity of the Salesian Brother as an apostle of Christ capable of proposing relevant solutions to the various challenges faced by the youth of South Asia.” 

The reflections during the Congress were facilitated by the inputs of four resource persons,  including Salesian Scripture Scholar Br Abraham M. Antony who dwelt on the theme of Salesian Brothers as personal witnesses of the Lord from a biblical perspective. 

Formation Councillor Fr Ivo Coelho considered the Post-novitiate Formation of the Salesian Brother, while Psychologist Fr Edison Fernandez reflected on how to be a witness, drawing inspiration from the New Testament, the life of Don Bosco, and the Salesian tradition. 

Administrator of Bosco Boys Home Borivli Fr Adolf Furtado elaborated on how to be a witness to the youth of our times and challenged each participant to come up with three innovative responses to the concerns of the young. 

The zonal meetings, the province-wide interactions, the religious-profession-knowledge sharing, and the various group discussions offered all the participants ample opportunities for airing their views and contributing their share to enrich the Congress.

The participants had the chance of listening to a panel of four speakers: the parents of a Salesian Brother, a Salesian Cooperator and two married men who were formerly Salesian Brothers. 

There was also an open question-and-answer session with Fr Ivo Coelho, Fr Maria Arokiam Kanaga, Br Jean Paul Muller and Fr Silvio Roggia, a member of the Formation Department in Rome.

Brother Puthenpurackel says, “The entire Congress proceedings were characterized by a very serene, joyful and fraternal atmosphere. A good mix of both senior and junior confreres contributed to the richness of the Congress.”

The Brothers Congress concluded with a statement which listed action plans for three areas concerning Identity, Visibility, and Credibility of vocation to the Brotherhood.

Some of the plans include deepening Salesian Brother’s spiritual testimony; promotion of Brother’s vocation; and providing life sketches of famous Brothers in local languages in the coming four years.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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