Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Visit of the Rector Major

The Rector Major of the Salesians of Don Bosco is visiting our community tomorrow.  This is his maiden visit to this Province and certainly to this community.  The last time a Rector Major visited Chertsey was 50 years ago - that was Fr Ricceri.

Well, I just can't help comparing this occasion here and now, and if it were to be in any of our Indian provinces!  Back in India, the preparations would have been going on for almost a year.  For the past one month or so, everyone in the house would have been going bonkers over the whole event.  The whole house taking on a new look - not only physical appearance, by way of painting, cleaning and tidying up, but also by way of decoration and additional beautification.  Besides everyone in town, and I mean, everyone, would know that he is coming.  Of that the Salesians and those living in the house would make sure of.  Then there is the whole extravagance of welcome, felicitation, cultural programmes, talks and invitation cards and related things - one of each of these in the house, the boarding, the school, the parish... Each place would like to have something special for him.  There will also be a long list of things he will have to inaugurate - even if they are still halfway through completion or have already been in use for sometime now!  And for all these events, who is invited and what role assigned to each, is thought over a thousand times - not to mention the seating arrangement at each instance!  Then there are the meals - ah!  Besides inviting the whole town, there is the special menu and the 'other' menu.  And within the special menu, there is 'the Rector Major's table' and his diet.  That is normally assigned to the Salesian Sisters.  All in all, by the time he leaves the place, everyone is so exhausted, we all need a week to recover.  Certainly much more than a week, to recover from the financial expenses!

But here, things are very sober.  No extravagance, whatsoever.  True that he is coming to Chertsey, and he is visiting the school, the university and the parish.  But at none of these places, is there any 'extra' decoration or pomp.  Hell, we did not even clean the house!  But that's because it is cleaned periodically - and is clean!  Food, there is a grand meal - but that's only for 18 people, including the 8 confreres living here.  He is inaugurating the renovated School hall, but even there all that is planned is a short prayer, sprinkling of the holy water and perhaps a ribbon cutting or so.  That's it.  I don't think the hall is specially decorated or anything for this.  And it was ready and in use since September.

Both these procedures and attitudes towards the same event, for the same person, have their own reasons and advantages.  It certainly has much to do with our respective cultural norms as well - especially those concerning guests.  The one great advantage of the former (Indian) style is the way we get our children and youth involved.  And for them too it is a matter of great joy and privilege.  But for every other reason, I see a greater virtue in the latter style.  Again, for the youngsters.  We do not put up a show for someone, but live the high standard of cleanliness, order, functionality, all through.  Most importantly, everyone is respected - whether that be a simple technician coming in to do some repair work or the Bishop or the Rector Major.  Of course, we do not lay out the grand meal table for the former, but everyone is treated respectfully.  Even in the case of the grand meal, the content of the meal is the same we would have for our feast days or b'day celebrations.  Not over the top!

I remember a confrere in the Province serving the Regional, during his official Canonical visit to the community, in a steel plate and tumbler!  His argument, "He is coming to share in our day-to-day life.  And this is exactly how we live our day-to-day life.  Why buy special crockery and exquisite glasses for his visit?"  I, for one, am perfectly in total agreement with that confrere.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...