by Dominic Veliath, SDB
In his article, “Encounter of the Salesian Charism with the South Asian Context”, Fr. Dominic Veliath, a Salesian hailing from the Bangalore Province in India, gives us an overview of how the Salesian charism came into contact with the South Asian context in over one hundred years of Salesian presence on the Indian subcontinent. After giving a short overview of the Salesian Society and its foundation and its mission, Fr. Veliath moves to expound the vision of the Church departing from Vatican II and how the Council gave a renewed articulation of the Church. Subsequently, the author situates Religious life in the post-Conciliar Church and presents it as “a special way of participating in the sacramental nature of the People of God.” The author then moves to place the presence of the Salesians in the South Asian context as a reality, expressed in a “charism, a spirituality and a mission” in the subcontinent emphasizing that although the Salesian Charism has taken roots in India, it is “still on a pilgrimage, in tis ongoing encounter with the Indian psyche and ethos.” In continuing to give an overview of the presence of the Salesians on the Indian subcontinent, the author brings out the characteristic of the Asian context, with special emphasis on the contemporary scenario. It here then that Fr. Veliath gives his views on the encounter of the Salesian charism with the local culture, history and social realities. The author presents the readers with ten particular traits that profile the “paradigmatic” Indian Salesian. He divides these traits in four major groups underlying various characteristics: ecclesial, charismatic, cultural and human. The author underlines that the Salesian charism still has challenges ahead, even if it has been present in India for more than a century. Every pilgrimage, like that undertaken by the Salesian charism, involves an amount of risk and challenges. The encounter between the Salesian charism and the culture of the subcontinent offers a platform of further dialogue and growth.