The 7th Northern Zonal Conference of the Salesian Cooperators comprising of the fives Provinces of Guwahati, Dimapur, Kolkata, Shillong and Dimapur was held at FMA Outreach, Bellefonte – Shillong on 29th and 30th October 2016. The theme of the conference was “Formation: A path to Maturation”.
The Conference began with the flag hoisting ceremony at the entrance of the house. Fr. George Maliekal SDB, Provincial of Shillong Province did the honour of hoisting the Flag of the Association of Salesian Cooperators, Shillong Province. After which a group photo was taken and the assembly proceeded to the hall.
Sr. Christina Kharkongor, FMA Delegate for Salesian Cooperators welcomed the delegates to the event. A melodious welcome song by the newly professed FMA Sisters made the ambient more homely and joyous. Invoking the presence of God, a symbolic ceremony of lamp lighting was done by Rev. Fr. George Maliekal SDB Provincial, Rev. Fr. Noel Maddhichetty SDB, National Delegate of Salesian Family, Rev. Fr. Philip Barjo SDB, Provincial Delegate of SDB, Mr. Marius Kharkongor, Coordinator Northern Zone and Sr. Gemima Pohrmen FMA, Animator of FMA Outreach. On the occasion, Rev. Fr. Noel Maddhichetty, invited all present to strenthen the Salesian Family Spirit and to work together for gender equality as a culture. The Chief Guest, Fr. Goerge Maliekal, Provincial lauded the works of the Salesians in the North East through Shillong which was the centre for the earliest missionary ventures. He encouraged the participants to strive towards growth and maturity and to carry forward the work of the saintly founder to carry on caring for the poor abandoned youth.
The sessions centred around the theme of the conference namely Formation and hence the Five Chapters of the Project of Apostolic Life (PAL) which speak about Formation and its various aspects were studied and deepened during the two-day programme. Different resource personnel including Fr. Noel Maddhichetty, Fr. Philip Barjo, Fr. A. L Jose, Fr. Michael Makri and Mr. D. S. Antuvan, World Councillor for South Asia have made the study and reflection interesting and beneficial.
Apart from the serious study and sessions, the gathering was fortunate to have witnessed the Cultural Programme where young people from Bosco Youth Group, Trinity Voices and Shlem ki Sur (hearth of music) who enthralled the participants and made them feel younger with their melodious voices and talents in music.
On the seond day, the assembly was glad to have had the presence of Sr. Isabella Suja FMA, Provincial Shillong Province. She was accorded a warm welcome and she in turn gave her message to the participants. She reminded them that their call to become a Salesian Cooperator is God’s call and urged them to be committed in their apostolic work among the youth.
The climax of the conference was the thanksgiving Holy Eucharist concelebrated by Fr. A. L Jose SDB, Fr. Noel Madichetty and Fr. Philip Barjo SDB. During the Holy Eucharist there was the Promise taking by the three new members of the association namely Ms. Cordelia Mawkhlieng and Smt. Natalis Mary Jyrwa from Bellefonte Centre, and Smt. Helen Kharbudnah from Upper Shillong Centre.
After the promise taking each of them signed on the altar and Certificates were distributed to them by Fr. A. L Jose SDB, the main celebrant. In his homily Fr. A. L. Jose spoke on the conversion of Zachaeus; relating it to our personal life he invited the Salesian Cooperators and all present to be aware of our self-conversion particularly living our life to its fullness according to our identity as a Salesians.
Soon after Mass the assembly gathered outside for the lowering of the flag by Mr. D. S. Antuvan World Councillor of South Asia Region. The flag was handed over to the Provincial Coordinator of Dimapur Province, Mr. Adani Joseph by Mrs. Benita Marbaniang. The next venue for the Northern Zonal Conference the following year will be held in Dimapur Province.
The Conference concluded with a family meal and whereby some made it for the Shillong Darshan and others to their respective destinations.