CHRONICLES: HOW AND WHEN IT ALL BEGAN…
1906: Heraldo, the leading Goan daily, carried an article by Dr. Wolfango da Silva (Dean of the Medical College of Goa and the Director of the Government Hospital), it reads, “if anybody wanted to do something serious about saving the youth of Goa, (and it needed saving) the Salesians had to be called in”
Night between 4 & 5 April 1946, (about11pm), -Fr. Scuderi arrives in Panjim and stays in Assistencia aos Indeigentes e Infancia Desvalida, just across the road on the rear side of the Hospital of Panjim.
5th April 1946: Fr. Scuderi pumped a football he had bought in Bombay and began bouncing in front of the house. Boys came, and with the few Portuguese words he knew, began an ORATORY… for years to come to be called “ORATORIO SALESIANO”.
June 1946: With the help of Br. Cajetan Lobo, began a Portuguese Primary School: “Inicial”.
Dec 1946: Oratory dares to spread its tentacies to Calangute. Fr. Berti and Fr. Mora took charge.
1947: Fr. Moja incharge of school and Oratory. Fr. Moja incharge of Local daily Oratory. The Oratory would close with evening prayers and goodnight, officially at 6.00pm.
June 1947: English School inaugurated with 36 pupils, 3 teachers and Fr. Moja as Headmaster.
Fr. Scuderi begins another roving Oratory at the other end of Panjim, Fontainhas. Initially begun as a Sunday Oratory, but ended up as a daily on special occasions like novenas, and months of May and October.
5th August 1948: The deed of the present plot of the Salesian Presence, Oratory and school was signed.
Fr. Scuderi, Fr. Carreno. Fr. G. Mora, Bro. Zubizerrata, Fr. Zola, and Fr. Moja hold the reigns of the Oratory
1949: Fr. Fedrigotti, Prefect General, was sent by the Rector Major, to see what was happening in Goa
1950: Oratory gaining prominence under the able leadership of Fr. Scuderi, Fr. Ravalico, Fr. Zubizerrata, Fr. Zola, Bro. Medeglia and Bro. Armenana.
The Oratory hall takes shape
Annual feature of the Oratory-Picnics begin, in the month of May and October. For transport, the trucks were provided by the military and with 50 boys in a truck about 6 trucks were needed.
13 March 1952: Fr. Scuderi leaves for Bombay and Italy
October 1952: Fr. Carreno arrived in Goa, for whom Goa was “Love at first sight.” He spent 8 years in the Oratory.
The Portuguese Salesians express their gratitude and admiration for Fr. Carreno: “The Oratory at Panjim, with its high school, technical school, and Youth Centre and Oratories, the start of the aspirantate for abandoned youth; the spread of the devotion to Mary Help of Christians and devotion to Don Bosco; the collaboration with the native clergy and prestige of the salesians work, are sufficient proof of the real worth of Fr. Carreno.
Fr. Carreno leaves for Europe after his team as Rector of Don Bosco Panjim in 1960
29th August 1996: Official handing over the property to the Salesians, when Fr. Dennis Duarte was the Rector of Panjim in 1968
1970: Fr. Joseph Casti is at the helm as Rector of Don Bosco. The Oratory receives its boost
1970-1974: The Golden Years of Don Bosco Oratory. The playgrounds were full of Youth and there was a healthy mix of sports, games, fun and spirituality, guided by the dynamism of Fr. Edward D’souza who was in charge, and later by Fr. Albano D’Mello. These years of grace in the history of the Oratory are still cherished moments in the life of many then youngsters of Panjim
1970: Fr. Albano D’Mello, together with the past pupils, some who were already teaching in the school, begin the Night school.
1976: The Hostel, besides the Oratory is added on the Salesian activities, thanks to Fr. Joseph Casti.
FACES WE CANNOT FORGET!!
Fr. Vincent Scuderi-(1946-1952) – A born leader of Italian origin, whose missionary zeal brought him to Assam. The situation of war, groomed his tough spirit in concentration camps. He founded the Oratory with meager resources, yet a dynamic Salesian spirit.
Fr. Joseph Carreno-(1952-1960) – A man with a large heart and broad vision. His austere Salesian Spirituality found its own windows of compassion for the poor and needy youngsters. He built the Oratory, gave it a place, and that much needed initial vision.
Fr. Cajetan Lobo-(1946-1963) – He was the headmaster for many years and also looked after the Oratory. A person with exceptional affinity to the poor. Many poor boys used to gather around him, and he would never deprive them of the football they loved so much.
Fr. Edward D’souza (1970- 1974) – The untiring personality that helped the Oratory reach his glorious peak. In simple but numerous ways, he attracted and gathered youth with activities such as… fetes, sports, music, tournaments, picnics, recollections, stalls, bands, beat-group, choirs, etc. It was during his tenure that the Oratory Football team played in the senior division and participated in the Rovers Cup.
Fr. Benedict Furtado (1978-1984) – An ardent lover of sports, and founder-member of the Basketball Association of Goa. He encouraged many in this sport and one may not be wrong if he were to attribute the beginnings of Basketball in Goa to him.
Fr. Joe Branganza (1981-1983) – Strove hard to organize tournaments and uphold the dynamism of the oratory. His efforts to participate in the various tournaments and events have paid rich dividends
ORATORY: The Vision Unfolds
The don Bosco Oratory is a Premier activity of the Salesians of Don Bosco both world-wide as well in Goa. It was begun here by the very first salesians Rev. Fr. Scuderi and Rev. Fr. Carreno, who stepped on the Goan soil.
Its aim is the same as that of its founder Don Bosco. He desired that it fulfil a four-fold mission towards youth, especially the less fortunate, poor and abandoned. It was to be a Home, School, Church and Playground. In this way the Oratory strives to offer every youngster a possibility of a complete and harmonious development, so that he can grow towards becoming a responsible and active member of society.
For many, the word Oratory may simply mean a recreation hall. For every Salesians, however it is not just a place of recreation but rather an ambience that fosters, variety, creativity, excellence, unity and above all spirituality. To this end, after much thought and a chequered history of sorts, Don Bosco Oratory Panjim, has now entered a new phase. A phase, which seeks to meet the needs of the locality, bearing well in mind the changing historical times. We Salesians will seek to create opportunities for proper and professional learning in various fields of sports, music and culture. While on one hand talents will be fostered, the human growth of persons will be given due importance. The whole new department of Counseling for youngsters and slow learners will help them face a varied situations at all crossroads in their life. The center will also be available for career guidance and testing, for parental and family guidance, for conducting of seminars and workshops in schools and colleges around Goa. A well-equipped audio-visual hall will provide the much needed facility for organizing self-development programmes such as leadership, personality, Public speaking, Value Education, from time to time.
On January 26th, 1888, Don Bosco lay dying. Cardinal Cagliero arrived at the Oratory and went straight to Don Bosco’s bedside. Don Bosco was in great pain and only partially conscious. He looked to this, his favoured son. “Save my souls, wherever you are!” he whispered. Such was the heart of this great man that even on his death bed he was interested in the spiritual development of youth in every one of his institutions. This is the dream shared by every salesians, who can only seek to fulfil it in an Oratory developed according to the mind and spirit of its founder, Don Bosco.
The Oratory- A window to Spirituality
Don Bosco began his mission by establishing Oratories which had four crucial elements that made up t5heir identity. He wanted his Oratory to be school, a church, a playground and a home, for young people. The vital part of this four-fold “pattern” was balance. No young person was pushed to pursue one at the expense of the other and Don Bosco probably used every opportunity to promote the all round development of youngsters. If he saw a young person constantly in church and never on the play-ground, he became concerned. If a young person was regularly alone and did not feel at home with the rest of the young people, he wanted to find out why. If a young person was always studying and not spending time with his friends he would talk to his teachers and try to sort things out.
Considering Don Bosco’s four elements today, well change them from concrete places to four active words that can help us deal with the increasing variety of situations in which we meet young people today. Here is a translation of Don Bosco’s four words today:
Home – Belonging
School – Learning
Church – Meaning
Playground – Celebrating
If we understand these four words as spell out below, then as parents, the youth workers, friends and teachers we can translate Don Bosco’s insight into our own Salesians work with young people today.
Home means Belonging
Don Bosco was aware that young people needed a sense of being at home: safe, welcome and accepted. When young people feel safe and comfortable it is easier to establish trust and support them in their growth. Often that will mean that they will feel free to express both happiness and sadness, anger and contentedness. The absence of spontaneity and openness for Don Bosco was a sigh that this part of his “pattern” was not working.
School And Learning
Don Bosco recognized that formal education was one way out of the poverty trap for the young people he worked with. But he recognized that education was a much wider reality than the classroom. It is a ‘matter of heart’! In Don Bosco’s vision ’School’ was more than a formal education. The main place where learning happens is within the group of young people and not so much in the classroom. If the network of relationships is right young people learn the deeper lessons of life: who are they, what their gifts are, what limitations they have, So Don Bosco found ways of making every situation a learning experience: games, domestic work, friendly encouragement, flights in the playground and even major problems. He desired that in every Oratory the salesians adult-education be present, to assist in a friendly way the youngsters in his search for meeting of life.
Playground And Celebration
Young people need to give vent to their energy in fun, games and playing exercise. Some educators see this as a wasted time. Don Bosco never did! Instead he saw it as a vital means of celebrating life. The most important thing about play and hobbies is that they are not duties, not seen as a burden. We do them for the joy of doing them and they allow us to enjoy the present moment. As adults we may take ourselves too seriously and when we do so we are in danger of losing the capacity to be ourselves
Don Bosco wanted young people to grow to maturity yet still to have access to that youthful energy that could let them play and simply be.
Church And Meaning
The chapel or church was always close to the playground in Salesians Oratories. The idea of linking faith and fun was a part of the geography. Don Bosco wanted the sense of God’s presence to be available in every situation and the door of the church was rarely locked until very late in the day. He encouraged short visits into the silence of the chapel even during games or on the way people to be aware that his whole approach revolved around the mystery of God represented by a scared place in the vicinity of the oratory
Isn’t this a spirituality- a way of life that’s dynamic and purposeful!
MEET THE MAN WHO BEGAN IT ALL-DON BOSCO
Don Bosco was born at Becchi, a hamlet in the municipality of Castelnuovo d’ Asti (now Castelnuovo Don Bosco) on 16th August 1815. John was two years old when his father died and he was brought up tenderly but firmly by his mother Margaret who was later to spend ten years with him after he had begun his work for boys.
He was ordained a priest in Turin in 1841 at a time when the industrial revolution was bringing large numbers of country people, mostly youth, into the city. The plight of these poor abandoned boys had a profound effect on the young priest. As upper and middle class philanthropists tried to solve the problems of the common people and priests experimented with ways of approaching young people, Don Bosco befriended the stonemasons, the chimney sweeps and apprentices who were being exploited in substandard workshops. And so began the work of the Oratories. After a few years the “wandering” Oratory found a permanent home at Valdocco.
Don Bosco gave a home to the more abandoned boys; he later organized his first workshops for them. Following educational reforms in Piedmont he turned to secondary education and opened boarding schools and colleges for poor boys. He also devoted himself to the wide publication od pamphlets for ordinary people.
The Salesians Society was born in 1854 and ten years later the foundation stone of the Basilica of Mary help of Christians was laid. In 1872, with Mother Mazzarelio, he founded the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians to care for girls. Three years later the first missionary expedition went to Argentina, the destination of large numbers of Italians migrants in the nineteenth century. Meanwhile he founded the Cooperators whom he regarded as his Salesians “in the world”
During the years from 1878, the very difficult years of the Risorgimento for relations between the Vatican and the Italian State, Don Bosco became an intermediary between them, particularly for the nomination of bishops of vacant sees. Don Bosco’s educative message can be summed up in four words; “reason, religion, loving, kindness”. Underlying his “Preventive System” is a heartfelt love for young people, the key to all educative work.
Don Bosco died early in the morning on 31st January 1888.
The Salesians family today comprises the Salesians, the Salesian Sisters, the Cooperators, the Volunteers of Don Bosco, the Past Pupils and several small congregations founded in missionary lands