We, the Salesians of Don Bosco are an international society of consecrated priests and laymen at the service of the Church and especially of the young. Our service to the Diocese of Poona has many forms, one of which is the direction and running of the Diocesan Catechetical Centre at Koregaon Park.
Don Bosco, our Father and Founder made it very clear that no task was more divine and delightful than teaching young people the truths of faith. It may be said that the Salesian Congregation itself had its origin in a simple catechism lesson taught to a street urchin in a sacristy on December 8, 1841. Hence it is not surprising that Don Bosco made the education and evangelization of the young the primary objective of his Congregation! Catechesis or faith formation is therefore at the heart of Don Bosco’s educational project.
Salesian history in India bears witness to a rich heritage of education, evangelization and catechesis. In his memoirs, Mgr. Mathias speaks of how in the early 1920’s he would take groups of young Salesians on ‘missionary tours’ across the hilly terrains of Meghalaya. They would move from village to village, carrying on their heads foodstuffs, blankets, musical instruments, visual aids for teaching catechism (pictures, posters and cut-outs), and a primitive film projector. The arrival of the missionaries would be a feast for the village – music and singing, fun and frolic and, of course, a lot of catechetical instruction, followed by confessions and a solemn celebration of the Eucharist. Without doubt, the Salesian missionary miracle of Assam was to a great extent the result of the down-to-earth and practical method of catechesis adopted by our pioneers.
The Salesian Catechetical Centre, now known as the Diocesan Catechetical Centre was blessed by Rt. Rev. Valerian D’Souza, Bishop of Poona on March 20, 1979. Fr. Wilfred D’Souza was appointed as its first director. The motto of the Centre was To Tell People about the Light. This it did by setting up a library with a range of books, audio and visual material for catechesis and conducting a plethora of programmes for catechists across the length and breadth of the diocese. There was a recording studio that served as a production facility for slide programmes which were common at the time.
The Catechetical Centre has made a huge contribution to the faith education and formation of the faithful of the diocese ever since its inception. Through retreats, recollections, seminars, leadership camps, live-in camps, orientation programmes for students and training programmes for teachers and catechists besides other diocesan and local events like the Youth Fest and Faith Sharing Day, the Centre has sought to spread the light of Christ and enrich the faith of the young and eager faithful.