Old boys make relic tour a success
Bans on foreigners and religious activities no constraint on progress through northeast
“If it was not for them, the Don Bosco relics would not have reached places like Ziro, Doimukh, Borduria and Khonsa in Arunachal Pradesh where foreigners are not allowed,” said relics tour coordinator, Father Jose Palely on May 24.
The tour, which began on April 29, has passed through the problematic northeast region despite restrictions ranging from a ban on foreigners to a law curbing Christian activities.
It was no mean task getting travel permits for three Italian relic escorts to enter Arunachal Pradesh, where Christian activities are legally restricted because of the Freedom of Religion Bill, organizers said.
Father Palely said the Apathani (tribe) alumni took the relic to Ziro where there is no Salesian institution. The alumni are a “mixed group of Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jains and animists,” he said.
Joint efforts by the provincial federation and Dimapur unit of Don Bosco alumni got the government’s approval for installing a life-size statue of the saint in the heart of Dimapur to commemorate the visit of the relic. The Dimapur Salesian province is based in the town.
"It was a moment of grace, blessing, renewal, inspiration, fresh enthusiasm, for the Salesians themselves, as well as for the thousands of people who paid homage to the saint," said Vice Provincial Father Nestor Guria, who accompanied the relic.
Alumni federation and Nagaland state government official Francis Solo said they see Don Bosco not only “as a holy man, but also as a courageous young boy, who took on the challenges of growing up as a fatherless child.”
Stephen Kamson, another former student and a government medical officer, said many have spent thousands of rupees to visit the relic in Turin, Italy. But now hundreds of people have been able to see the relic in their hometown, he said.
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