INM PARISH SECTOR MEETING - 28th July 2017  by Fr. Jeffrey Gladstone SDB
    Chennai, Jul. 29. 2017 In an effort to renew our commitment to the pastoral ministry in all our Parish settings and to relaunch our shepherding mission with the spirit of Pope Francis, one day of meeting was held at the Salesian Provincial House, Citadel, Kilpauk on 28th July 2017 from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm.  Around 20 confreres, mostly, the parish priests attended the meeting with unfailing enthusiasm till the end of the day.
    The day began with a prayer to the Holy Spirit and with readings from the Salesian Constitutions pertaining to the Parish ministry. Rev.Fr.K.M.Jose, the Provincial welcomed the gathering and gave introductory motivational lines. He underscored the `Pastoral accompaniment` as the underlying core principle of the entire priestly endeavour. Then, Fr. Patrick Joji introduced Fr. Arulraj, the former Vicar General of Chingleput diocese, who was the resource person for the day. While sharing his ideas, Fr. Arulraj reminisced his long association with the Salesians right from his infancy and narrated a lot of touching personal incidents that brought home the fact that the `Pastoral Touch` of the Salesians had changed the lives of many  a person and had altered many a situation. Consciously keeping away from the bookish information and theories, he used his experiential knowledge to drive home the basics of a fruitful pastor, namely, `Pastoral inspiration, Pastoral innovation and Pastoral courage`.

    After the coffee break, there was a panel discussion chaired by three lay people from different areas of parochial activity such as a veteran Sacristan, a legion of Mary president and a vice-president of a parish council. They shared from their perspective of what the people expected from the parish priests. After a lively interaction with them, the group moved on to listening to the instructions from various province departments such as Deepagam, Don Bosco Youth Services and DBICA.  They presented the various pastoral tools and initiatives that are at their disposal which could be used towards the effective running of the various sections of the parish community.

    After the lunch break, the group got into the most important task of arriving at a synthesized EPP for the Parish Sector at the province level. Its aim was not to impose any sort of uniformity, but to ensure unity of purpose and action in implementing concrete action plans under each dimension in the parish setting. With an active, open, free and frank participation of all, the final draft of the EPP was outlined to the satisfaction of all those present. Following that, Fr. Provincial addressed the group and enlisted various essential qualities of a Parish Priest that are needed to make the parish vibrant at all levels. With a resolve to carry home the learning of the day into our practical lives, the Parish Priests dispersed with a happy and enthusiastic mood to return back some time in November to relive the same experience.
    Posted by MATTHEWS Dominic