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To enable the young altar servers to know and to learn the proper altar service, to communicate the methodology and the profound meaning found in the gestures, to expose the richness of the basic prayers, to accompany them in their vocational choices and to instill in them the need to be members of various Youth groups and to promote leadership qualities and serving-attitude are some of the scopes and aims of this camp.
The campus was filled with 150 lively altar servers from 19 different parishes of Chennai Province, along with two other non-salesian parishes. These young people were accompanied and guided by 20 vibrant and willing mentors from their respective parishes. Such generous young adults were the pillars of the camp; they offered their joyous assistance and volunteered to take care of the particular areas and programmes of the entire camp. Their contributions were much, in taking care of their own parish members, in helping them to grasp the lessons, in accompanying them during the pilgrimage on all every evenings.
In a typical Salesian way, overflowing with cheerful smiles and creative styles, Fr. Mani Lazar SDB, empowered the altar servers by his profound animations and sessions. Fr. Anto Dn. Messiah, Dn. Joe Anand,
Br. Suresh Yesubalan and Br. Willliam David were also assisting the servers in the input sessions and as assisting angels they organized the tight-moments of the camp with fun and frolic.
The participants reached Don Bosco, Jevanandapuram on 24th evening and were allotted places to rest. Introductory session was conducted on 25th morning, the altar servers were divided into three batches (Juniors, Inters, Seniors) for their regular input sessions, and into four teams (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) for other activities and discipline. Each batch and team had five volunteers to coordinate along with brothers. Guide to the altar service books both in Tamizh and English were distributed to all. To facilitate the learning and memorizing the basic prayers, church service related articles, memory prayer cards and identification test cards were also distributed. The history and objective of Altar service, qualities and formation of an Altar servers, liturgical seasons, instruction on various liturgical things and vestments, meaning of the gestures were dwelt by the salesians. All the participants dressed in their respective altar servers vestments went in procession towards the Holy Spirit church for the Mass at 3:30 pm. Fr. K.V Sebastin gave us warm welcome and good refreshments. We made a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Sacred Heart of Jesus, prayed a Rosary and had a relaxed time in the beach.
'God's call and my response' was the theme on 26th April and the morning meditation was conducted by Fr. Mani Lazar SDB. The Mass was presided over by Fr. Felix SDB & homily was given by Fr. Vincent Prabu SDB on the same theme in the Holy Spirit church in the evening. The same evening we left to miraculous Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, Villianur. Every parish group prayed a Rosary each for several intentions. Keeping in view of the examination on the following day, a study time was organized after dinner.
A sincere evaluation of the input sessions was the theme of the day on 27th April of the camp. The young altar servers showed great eagerness and grand enthusiasm to complete their test cards and quiz. We went to the church of Our Lady of Angels on the beach road on the same evening. After the meaningful celebration of Mass on the theme Called to Holiness by Fr. Maria Arokiam SDB, group photos were taken to cherish the memory. We had a friendly time around the beach, leisure walks and light talks. After dinner we had the camp fire and the prize distribution for all who have successfully completed the tests.
A solemn thanksgiving Eucharist was offered on 28th morning for the Divine providence and valuable camp experiences. The certificates were issued soon after the Mass. We thanked Fr, Maria Arokiam SDB the Rector, Fr. Felix SDB the Administrator of the house who looked into every detail of our pleasant stay. We also thanked all the domestic staffs of the house and the five boarders who served the meals joyfully and all who have helped us in very many ways. All the participants departed towards their own parishes with fond memories. Our sincere thanks to Fr. Provincial and Youth Pastoral Delegate for giving us permission, and their support towards this camp. We also thank all the parish priests who had taken an interest in the formation of their altar servers and sent them for this annual camp.
Right things given at a right time would set many things right, so it easy to mould the young to be holy than latter. With this hope, we have created an ambience to these altar servers during these camping days to be holy and to grow in holiness. We thank the Almighty God the one who chose to serve us, and all the other good hearted people for their valuable part and generous contributions for the fruitful completion of the camp.
Director, DEEPAGAM, 45, Landons Road, Kilpauk, Chennai-10, Tamil Nadu, South India
Don Bosco Youth Empowerment Services (DBYES)
Director of the Department for the Dimension of Social Experience
45, Landons Road, Kilpauk, Chennai - 600010.