MY EXPERIENCE IN THE PREVENTIVE SYSTEM
When I was the Headmaster of Don Bosco High School, Irinjalakuda, Kerala, during the years 1991-1996, I myself used to wake up the boarders of X std daily at 5.00am. I would tap the foot of each student and they would have to stand up immediately, pray for 1 minute and finish the morning ablutions in 20 minutes and reach the dining hall below, where they would be given a cup of black coffee. If the cook was absent, I myself used to make coffee for them. After that they would be in the study till the Mass at 6.30.
One night, after night prayers, I found some of the X std boarders playing about in the study hall during the night study which would go on till 10.30 pm. When I went to the study hall and saw the game, I told the students seriously, “I have wasted my energy for you. I did not expect this behaviour from you. I am disappointed with you.” Saying this, I left the study hall and went to my bedroom which was on the 2nd floor in the boarding building. The study hall was on the 1st floor of the school in the adjacent building. When I opened my door after about 10 minutes to go to the office, I found all the students, 12 of them, holding to the window bars outside my room, and weeping, facing outwards to the playground, with their backs to my door. Among them was one boy, the oldest – 16 years – the Sports Secretary of the School and Captain of the School Basketball team, one of the best teams in Kerala State. When they saw that I had come out of my room, they turned to me and said, “Father, we know that we have made a mistake and we are sorry for it. Please don’t curse us!” I told them that I was glad that they had realized their mistake and were sorry for the same, and that, such awareness and repentance were all that was required. I added that they should not repeat such mistakes and to study hard and sent them all to the study hall with a pat on their back. I stood there, watching them in surprise, moved at the sight of those repentant youngsters returning to the study hall, thanking God that Don Bosco’ s loving kindness coupled with sterness had struck a chord in their young hearts.
Fr Varghese Thannippara sdb
Director, Don Bosco College, Mannuthy