SALESIAN EXPERIENCES :Fr. KU Mathew sdb, Delhi Province


When I was teaching Philosophy  in Salesian college Sonada
Darjeeling,( 1973-1981) I used to visit families now and then  in
Gorabari,  and distribute freely to the poor familes,  the used
clothes I used to get from friends abroad. On one occasion an elderly
woman insisted on getting  some money  and not the clothes. I told her
that I am poor that  I had no Pocket  money to give her. She could not
believe me. She said : “ How can I believe  that you have no money?
You wear long pants, wear good shoes and socks,  have wrist watch and
specs and  live  in a 3 storied building. Who will believe you when
you say that you are poor?”

2.Around the year 1982 I was  working in Kalyani parish in Nadia Dt.of
West Bengal. On  Holy Thursday I went for the Liturgical service to
the village of Nograkura a village with a very active community of
Christians. I was edified by the apparent fervent  attendance at  the
ceremonies.   But I was in for a big surprise. Towards the end of the
Mass I heard some loud voices and confusion outside the chapel. What
had happened was that the  driver of our jeep  ojected to one of the
parishioners sitting on the hood of our jeep. A heated verbal
dialogue was followd by a scuffle, and our driver was badly beaten up.
When I went to enquire about the happening I was told that  I had  to
make peace before leaving. They locked the entrance to the church
compound preventing the car being taken out . I told them that I was
not responsbile for what happened.  I was told to make peace and go
home:  Mishti kheye hasi mukhe jethe hobe.  (eat sweets and go home
with a smiling face). I spoke  calmly and the hot atmosphere became
cool. I ate the sweets they had brought and spoke to both parites and
made peace and could leave the place.

3.On one occasion one of the senior Salesian Brothers who was doing
the Magistero Course at Don Bosco Vidyaniketan, Kalyani had some
health problem. I called the sister nurse from the neigboring Auxilium
convent.  I had forgotten to inform the vice rector about the
When the sister nurse arrived the Vice Rector objected to her coming
without his permission since he was incharge of health matters. She
refused to return to her house, but stayed on to meet the Rector who
had called her. When I came down after my class I came to know the
situation and my negligence and  apologized.  For peace in the house
the sister was told to go back and she did it willingly.

4.There is a praiseworthy custom among the drivers In Punjab. Whenever
one of the vehicles break down the first vehicle of a Punjabi which
happends to come across will stop and try to help. Once it happened
that one of the local tractors got stuck in lose muddy soil. A  Sikh
gentleman came and asked us to lend our tractor to pull  it out. The
then administrator refused to help fearing that our own tractor may
get stuck in the process of helping.The Sikh gentleman was shocked and
he said: “What kind of Christian is he?”

5. In the year 1964 I was sent as assistant and teacher to Don Bosco
School Liluah,   Howrah. One evening I was assisting in the dormitory
of the small boys. I was suffering from cold and and fever and father
Rector Fr.Rosario Stroscio, who happened to visit the dormitory  at
once noticed condition. He came over to me and told me to go to sleep
and have some rest. Now after 50 years  I still remember that act of
kindness and understanding on the part of the Superior.

6.In my 55 years as a Salesian I was careful not to use any physical
punishment. I must admit that I did break that rule once by slapping a
naughty class VIII boy. It happened like this. I was alone for the
evening study assistance for some 90 boys in one big study hall. There
were few troublesome boys who would purosely disturb others by
humming, or making noise. I really wanted to make an impression on the
rest of the crowd by being strict and tough. I walked up the isle and
made a boy stand up and slapped him once. There was perfect silence
and discipline after that. Later I called the boy and found out, that
I had punished the wrong boy. I apologized to him for my mistake. The
boy was magnanimous and forgive me and told me that, that day he had
not disturbed, but on other occasions he had done it. We became
friends after that.

Fr. KUMathew sdb, Delhi Province