Salesian Alumni Bring Success to India Relic Tour

26-Day Don Bosco Pilgrimage Included 89 Venues

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DIMAPUR, India, MAY 26, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Alumni of Salesian schools ensured the success of the St. John Bosco relics pilgrimage through northeast India, obtaining necessary permits despite laws preventing Christian activities.

St. John Bosco's relics are on a 130-nation pilgrimage that began Jan. 31, 2009, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Salesians of Don Bosco, an order dedicated to education.

The relics started the India-leg of the journey April 29, and concluded Tuesday, after stopping in four states and six dioceses.

The Don Bosco Alumni Dimapur provincial federation liaisoned with the Salesian family, governmental and non-governmental agencies, organizations and communities to organize and promote the tour.

"The alumni, well placed in all walks of life, together with Don Bosco Schools did an immense work to mobilize the entire district administration, wherever the relics visited," tour coordinator Father Jose Palely told UCANews. "If it was not for them, Don Bosco Relics would not have reached places like Ziro, Doimukh, Borduria and Khonsa in Arunachal Pradesh where foreigners are not allowed."

He noted the difficulties in getting travel permits for three Italian escorts into Arunachal Pradesh, which has legislation restricting Christian activities in the state.

The alumni, the priest added, are a "mixed group of Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jain and Animists."

The former Salesian students got police escorts and secured media coverage, as well as getting permission for processions and rallies.

Alumni also obtained government approval for a life-size statue of St. John Bosco in Dimapur, where the Salesian headquarters of the province are located.

Francis Solo, the alumni federation president who has a government role in education, noted that they presented the saint "not only as a holy man, but also as a courageous young boy who took on the challenges of growing up as a fatherless child."

"More importantly," Solo added, "how he evolved through those challenges to dedicate his life for the young, the marginalized, the street urchin, the vagabonds and juvenile delinquents."

Solo noted that many alumni have spent sizable sums to visit the relics in Turin and now, countless people "have seen and benefited by the visit of the relics to their home town."