31 August, 2016
I wish to begin with the story of a photographer because his passion reminds me of the delights of a dedicated teacher and of the lessons we can all draw if we follow closely and wisely our life’s calling.
For Pulitzer-winning Jerusalem born photographer Muhammed Muheisen, trust is the most important part of his job – perhaps even more important than his camera. “Trust is not something you can buy, or get in no time,” he says. “It’s a long-term investment. It’s a feeling I work hard to earn.” Lately, he was awarded the $10,000 Oliver S Gramling award for journalism for his remarkable images of refugee children – images that are largely the result of his ability to connect with his subjects. “I have spent four years walking, talking and asking, with no language except respect and curiosity, about the lives of the people I photographed,” he says. “Day by day, I felt their trust growing, just as I saw the children growing before my eyes. I became part of their lives, as they became part of mine.”
Does this ring a bell? For teachers called to a noble profession nothing can me more satisfying and fulfilling than the sight of their students grow before their very eyes and become a part of them. The number of students the teacher encounters are numerous. Yet each one is special and unique. And each one has a special place in a teacher’s heart. The bond is strong and indeed powerful. That’s intrinsic to the noble teaching profession. It’s increasingly becoming a challenge though. With increasing demands on time and an avalanche of social media platforms, the quality moments spent for and with one another are indeed a cause for concern. It is disheartening yet not hopeless. Somewhere we need to inject a passion for renewed vigour, create a boundless desire to teach and learn, and rediscover the joys of a classroom. All this can come about with a firm belief and conviction that we can meet the challenges head on.
75 years is indeed a memorable milestone in the annals of our school. Thousands of students have passed within its hallowed portals, and an even greater band of proud and dedicated teachers have graced it with their presence. The imposing and majestic structure bears witness to the many exemplars of love, service and sacrifice. We, on our part wish to celebrate, albeit in a small way, this spirited presence of Don Bosco Matunga for three quarters of a century. Our effort may not reflect the depth and volume of the works over these past glorious years, but surely it is a symbolic gesture of gratitude to the Almighty and the pioneers for this wonderful marvel of history.
I come back to the man of our story. When asked the most important thing he has gleaned from his time in challenging places and risky situations, Muheisen says: “I have learned to feel lucky and appreciate everything I have in my life. When I see how happy people can be from the limited resources they have, when I hear children laugh and I walk towards them to find out what magic has made them happy … We don’t need much to be happy; that is what I have learned.”
Surely God has gifted us in abundance. The resources are plentiful and at times we are spoilt for choice. Praise the institution that is Don Bosco, and be happy that we have been privileged to be a part of its illustrious story! To our teachers- in particular those who are going to retire this academic year: our AHM, Ms. Beatrice; Primary Head teacher, Ms. Winifred and Secondary Assistant teacher, Mr. V.K. – many thanks! Happy Teacher’s day!
With much affection,
Fr. Bernard Fernandes sdb
Here’s a story narrated by the wise and popular author Paulo Coelho.
A Siberian shaman asked God to show him a man that He loved. The Lord advised him to look for a certain farmer “What do you do to make the Lord love you so much?” the shaman asked the farmer when he found him. “I say His name in the morning. I work all day and say His name before going to sleep. That’s all,” the farmer replied.I think I found the wrong man, thought the shaman. Just then the Lord appeared and said, “Fill a bowl with milk, go to town and then return. Without spilling a single drop.” The shaman did so. On his return, the Lord wanted to know how many times he had thought of Him. “How could I? I was worried not to spill the milk!” “A simple bowl made you forget Me,” said the Lord, “and the farmer, with all his tasks, thinks of me twice a day.”
This is not a Christmas story as the Christmas season would have had it. However, it reminds us what we need to do this Christmas. Push the celebrations and festivities in the background and remember Christ, the centre of the feast of Christmas. There’s another reason why I wish to have this story here. To remember, and not take for granted, the daily blessings we receive. Christmas is a beautiful story of salvation for Christians. It is the story of God becoming human to be like us in all things except sin. It is a special moment in history when God chooses to accept the sufferings of the world to liberate humanity. It is a love and gesture of God difficult for us to comprehend, but we express our thanks in our own little way. For Christians, the celebration of Christmas is a feast of gratitude. It is said that Gratitude happens when some kindness exceeds expectations, when it is undeserved. Gratitude is a sort of laughter of the heart that comes about after some surprising kindness. Most people feel grateful some of the time — after someone offers you a lift on the road or visits you during an illness. But as author and columnist David Brooks puts it, some people seem grateful dispositionally. They seem thankful practically all of the time. They take nothing for granted. They take a beginner’s thrill at a word of praise, at another’s good performance or at each sunny day. These people are present-minded and hyper-responsive.
People with dispositional gratitude are unlike people who claim to be self-sufficient, independent, who rely too much on themselves. Rather they are hyperaware of their continual dependence on others. They treasure the way they have been fashioned by parents, friends and ancestors who were in some ways their superiors. They are continually struck by the fact that they are given far more than they pay for — and are much richer than they deserve. Their families, schools, training grounds and summer camps put far more into them than they give back. There’s a lot of surplus goodness in daily life that can’t be explained by the logic of equal exchange. At Christmas – and otherwise – is this not an attitude worth cultivating than being solely grateful to people who do us favours or will care for us in return? This will help us look beyond ourselves and appreciate life, people and the world around us for what they are, and not how they will be of benefit to us. Let’s give it a try and Christmas joy, peace and happiness will be ours for the asking!
Merry Christmas and a happy new year 2016!
Fr. Bernard Fernandes
The Diwali season is on our doorstep and it is time we step out in the open, reinvigorate ourselves with the the boundless spirit and festive fervor all around us – among our families, friends and neigbours. In the school, we have just ended our first term replete with activities, study, games and competitions. On the campus there was no dearth of calendar events, celebrations and assemblies beside learning and exams. There was never a dull moment as they say at Don Bosco Matunga. And that’s what precisely keeps the clock ticking fast! We have achieved much during this short period – a handful of awards of recognition for the school at the city, state and national level, a bagful of trophies (as is our wont!) in sports, and have made inroads into the field of research. All this makes us happy, proud and contented because this is what we set out to achieve. However, we need to be cautious since our growth and formation doesn’t stop there. It is a constantly evolving process, and we need to be ever vigilant to opportunities for excellence and increasingly watchful for all that harm and stunt our growth.
Vacation is a time to unwind and relax in the company of friends, family and neighbours, and yet be of service to our fellow human beings. This mid-scholatic year break is combined with the Diwali festive season. Diwali is a festival of lights, and light is something that exudes warmth, vibrancy, and security. Light is also a reminder to us to expend ourselves. Though the modern battery-run diyas, lamps and candles fascinate and makes things lighter for us, it is the old traditional diyas and candles that capture our imagination. They remind us that life consists not in standing still, but in expending. When we don’t move, don’t sacrifice, we become useless, we accomplish nothing. One of our spiritual leaders spoke wisely when he said ‘A soul that does not walk in life doing good, doing many things that one must do for society, to assist others, or who does not walk through life seeking God and His inspiration, is a soul that finishes in mediocrity and in spiritual poverty. Please: do not stand still in life!”
Make this Diwali special by spreading the glow of your light within – share your Diwali joy and gifts with your family and friends, and also the needy. Seek God, seek His inspiration this Diwali season!
Happy and joyous Diwali!
Fr. Bernard Fernandes
Dear Parents, Staff, Students and Well wishers,
I’ve had just over three months in office and it’s been a satisfying and engaging period. There have been challenges and blessings, and the blessings far outnumber the setbacks and difficulties. This may not be the opportune moment to delve more on ongoing stint at DB Matunga, however it does colour my message on the occasion of Teacher’s Day.
I begin with my story as a 10 year old student. It was my first year at Don Bosco High School, Panjim, Goa, after having completed Std. IV at Our Lady of Rosary High School, Doña Paula which was a co-ed school up to Std IV. I lost my father when I was in Std V and on that day I had my class teacher, Mrs. Rebello, visiting my house and offering some words and moments of consolation and support to my grief-stricken mother and family. Forty years have passed, and this memory is etched in my mind. And I wonder why. For my class teacher, it may have been a routine visit or a customary condolence call. However, for me and my family it was special. It showed her concern beyond studies and lessons, above homework and assignments. This ability to transform the teaching profession into a ‘human’ enterprise is what makes the teaching vocation a noble one. And happily for me I have encountered many teachers who have risen above syllabus delivery and mediocrity to touch the sensitive, most delicate and personal aspects of young people and help them grow.
Teaching profession (and vocation) is on the wane now; it’s because there are better and challenging careers and jobs with handsome pay cheques. Or it may be that the demands of a teaching job – unmanageable number of students, demanding parents and a punishing schedule of teaching and evaluation – are just too much to handle. Some others may not be just up to it. However for those of us who pursue and value teaching, teacher’s Day, though a moment to bask in all the accolades and attention we richly deserve, is also a time to introspect and regroup our energies.
In Japan, sport is often seen as a way towards self-fulfilment, and the names of many of Japan’s most traditional sports, such as judo and kendo, end with the suffix -do, which actually means “the path” or “the way”. A marathon runner in Japan, having completed 1000 marathons in 1000 days in search of enlightenment had this reply to an interviewer: “Everyone needs to find something that suits them; that works with their body, with what they are doing in this life. I chose to undertake this challenge. But it is just one of many different paths to the same place.” Running, too, according to the marathon runner can be a way to self-fulfilment. It has a purity, a power, a way of clearing the mind that few other activities possess. Sometimes it may seem unlikely, as we creak and struggle along, our legs heavy and tired, but then come those moments when we break through and our bodies begin to feel light, strong, at one with the earth.
Teaching is something similar, even nobler since it affects and moulds young minds. It is a way of self-fulfilment for us teachers with struggles and creaks, yet it means lacing up our shoes and heading out for another run, with commitment and passion.
HAPPY TEACHER’S DAY !
Fr. Bernard Fernandes
Dear staff and students,
We have begun a new scholastic year 2015-16. It’s that time of the year we all feel excited to make a fresh start, scale pinnacles and dream big to reach the stars. The summer vacation has given us the energy and vitality that is necessary to kick start the new year. It’s important that we retain this vigour and renew our focus every now and then for there will be moments when we get tired of routine, bored of class work and home assignments, take everything and everyone around us for granted, or even entertain thoughts of quitting or tuning off. As one musician writing a eulogy of her beloved departed friend puts it succinctly: ‘As musicians we take travel for granted. We are nomads who bundle our lives into a suitcase and never completely unpack because the next job is always on the horizon.’ Let’s be on our guard against the onset of such moments that will take us away from education and educators.
What should be my message for you this year? I am tempted to speak on excellence, success and top notch achievement. However I will set these aside because I know there will be many, including the charming media, who will never miss an opportunity to impress upon your young minds the necessity to pursue these values with staunch resoluteness. On my part, I wish to step aside and focus on another aspect of our life that is equally – if not, more – significant. I chanced upon an interesting article in New York Times entitled ‘The Moral Bucket List’. The author begins thus: ‘About once a month I run across a person who radiates an inner light. These people can be in any walk of life. They seem deeply good. They listen well. They make you feel funny and valued. You often catch them looking after other people and as they do so their laugh is musical and their manner is infused with gratitude. They are not thinking about what wonderful work they are doing. They are not thinking about themselves at all. When I meet such a person, it brightens my whole day. But I confess I often have a sadder thought. It occurs to me that I’ve achieved a decent level of career success, but I have not achieved that generosity of spirit, or that depth of character.’
So true! Most of us are clear on how to build an external career than how to build an inner character. In pursuit of success in career and excellence in grades, we fail in things that really matter – kindness, bravery, honesty, integrity, concern for environment. It’s surely one of the ill-effects of a fast paced competitive world. On our part, we need to stop and think. That’s the only sane way forward. As this year unfolds, let us strive for excellence in career with sincere passion and dedication, but may we work equally harder to get our innermost and core values right.
As I sign off for the first time after taking over as the Principal of this esteemed institution, Don Bosco High School, Matunga, I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to the outgoing Principal, Fr. Bosco D’Mello, for his dedication, zeal, passion and commitment to excellence and quality education, and for his belief in core Salesian values of loving presence and kindness. Congratulations to our SSC students for a 100% result at the Board examination this year. The hard work and sacrifice of our staff and parents are noteworthy and laudable.
Let us begin this bicentennial year of Don Bosco’s birth with the belief that excellence is an achievable target, and building of an inner character an equally important desirable goal.
Fr. Bernard Fernandes