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Rev. Fr. K. M. Jose, the Provincial 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, as the resource person for the day. While sharing his ideas, Father 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’.
This was followed by a panel discussion chaired by three lay people from different areas of parochial activity – Mr. Amaladoss – Vice president, Parish Council, S. M. Nagar, Mr. Alfred – Sacristan, Sastri Nagar and Mrs.Vyagulamary – President, Legion of Mary, S. M. Nagar. They shared from their views 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.
Post lunch, 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, Father Provincial addressed the group and enlisted various essential qualities of a Parish Priest that are needed to make the parish vibrant at all levels.