Province of St. Francis de Sales Dimapur (IND)

When Fr. Thomas Panakezham, the Regional Superior for Asia, announced the division of the Province of Guwahati on 8th August 1981, it signalled a new phase in the growth and development of the Salesian Missions in North East India. The vast geographical territory, coupled with the rapid expansion of the Province of Guwahati, had made the division imperative for the effective development and coordination of the Salesian works in the region.

A definitive step towards the division of the Province of Guwahati was initiated on 17th December 1980, when Fr. Thomas Panakezham, sent a letter to all the confreres of the Province of Guwahati, setting out the reasons which led the Rector Major and his Council, to study the possibility of the division of the Province. Keeping in mind the spirit of shared responsibility, the confreres were requested to give their opinions in this regard. This consultation was to be presented to the Superior Council, giving a clear picture of the Province.

Having taken into consideration, the views expressed by the confreres, the houses of Upper Assam (the Districts of Dibrugarh, Lakhimpur, Sibsagar), Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh were detached from the Province of Guwahati, to form the new Province of Dimapur (ANMA). The confreres were incardinated into the Province in whose territory the house was situated. The student confreres were invited to express their preference either for the Province of Guwahati or Dimapur. Their preferences were taken into account, in keeping with the needs and vitality of each Province. It was also decided that the houses of Formation of the Salesians at Shillong, though belonging to the Province of Guwahati, would continue to serve both the Provinces.

The division of the Province of Guwahati was announced by Fr. Thomas Panakezham on 8th August 1981. A meeting of the Superiors of the new Provinces was held in Guwahati on 24th September, to determine especially the location of the Provincial House. The majority opined to have the Provincial House at Dimapur.

On 18th December 1981, Fr. Matthew Pulingathil was nominated by the Rector Major, Rev. Fr. Egidio Vigano, as the new Provincial. On 15th February 1982, Fr. Scaria Nedumala was nominated Vice-Provincial, Fr. Vadakethannikal Sebastian as the Economer and Fr. Stanislaus Kerketta and Bro. Antony Brahamakulam as Provincial Councillors.

The Province of St. Francis de Sales, Dimapur, was inaugurated by Bishop Abraham Alangimattathil of Kohima, on 18th June 1982, on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Province of Dimapur had 25 presences and 152 confreres when it was canonically erected on 8th December 1982.

At present (May 2019), the Province has 47 presences with 32 canonically erected houses and 15 non-canonical ones. There Are 17 houses with four or more perpetually professed Salesians; 20 houses with three perpetually professed members; 10 with two perpetually professed confreres. Practically all the houses are urgently in need of more Salesian personnel. The Province has 261 confreres: 3 Bishops, 170 Priests, two Deacons five Perpetually Professed Salesian Brothers and 14 Perpetually Professed Clerics. All the rest (76) are in temporary vows and among whom only one is a Salesian Brother. Currently the Province has 10 novices, 33 confreres in post-novitiate formation (two at Salesian College, Sonada, 27 in Practical Training (one at Sirajuli), 16 students of Theology (12 at Sacred Heart College, Shillong, two at Kristu Jyoti College, Bengaloru, two at Messina, Italy).  Some confreres are temporarily transferred to other Provinces. So far, the Province has given 13 confreres to the Rector Major for mission ad gentes. This year (2019), two young confreres have opted for the overseas missions: one confrere is pursuing Theological Studies at Messina, Italy, and the other is engaged in Practical Training at Sirajuli (Kuruvachira 2019: 1).

During the past 37 years, the Province has made efforts to send confreres for specialization in various Disciplines: There are 16 confreres with PhD degrees in various Disciplines: two in Philosophy, one in Canon Law, one1 in Spirituality, four in English Literature, two in History, two in Education, one in Nano Technology, one in Political Science, one in Sociology and one in Social Work. Salesians have been also trained in other fields such as: one in master’s in architecture and one in Law. There are several confreres who are qualified with B. Ed/M. Ed training and master’s degree in various Disciplines including Theology, Canon Law, Philosophy, Psychology, Social Work, Computer Science, Media Studies, Spirituality and Salesian Pedagogy, from India and abroad.

Currently (May 2019), there are seven confreres who are pursuing their PhD studies as full-time scholars: four in India (one each in Social Work, Computer Science, Psychology and Philosophy); three in Rome (one each in Philosophy, Salesian Spirituality and Church History). Besides these, there are some other confreres engaged in their PhD research as part time scholars from different Universities of India. In addition, there are several confreres who are doing M.A. studies as regular students or through Distance Education. As a rule, the Brothers after their Practical Training, are given the opportunity to do B. Ed or its equivalent. There is a great need to diversify the studies of the confreres to meet the various needs of the Province (Ibidem 7).

Among the 47 presences in the Province, there are 25 Parishes, 38 Schools, five Colleges, one MSW College, one B. Ed College, one Junior College, two Vocational Training Centres and one Animation Centre. There are several Boarding Houses and Hostels. Developmental works are done through agencies such as AIDA, I-CARD, Bosco Mangaal, AGUA, Boscome and the like. 

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