Sonada — On a visit to Salesian College Sonada, President of Asian Bishops’ Conference, Salesian Cardinal Charles Bo released the long-awaited ‘Salesian College – A History that Speaks Today’, 7th November 2019.
‘Salesian College: A History that Speaks Today’ edited by Trophy D’Souza has some 450 pages covering a span of 77 years (1938 to 2015).
The college with its motto ‘Flamma Ardens et Lucens’ (Flame that burns and shines) has over these years trained more than 1,800 men working today in more than 250 institutions across India. Some of its trainees have also started more than 20 centres across Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Others have carried the flame to their homelands in America, Europe, Australia, England, Ireland, and Malta, or assisting ventures in Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, Guam (USA), Guatemala, Mexico, Kenya, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia and elsewhere.
Some Salesian College trainees have moved on to become leaders in the Salesian Society’s premier institution, the Salesian Generalate in Rome, and trainers in the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome (UPS) Italy, or leaders in global organizations like the United Nations or the Vatican.
The book is divided into five parts. The first part: The Salesian Project has five chapters namely, The Salesian Project in North India; The Salesian Mountain Trail; The Salesians Face a War Situation; Salesian Communities Displaced in India: 1962; and Salesian College Today: An Overview.
The second part: Life at Salesian College has six chapters entitled ‘Youth Centers and Youth Work; Music and Dramatics; Rector’s Day Concert; Feast Day Celebrations; Winter Holidays; and Programs and Facilities.
The third part: Salesian College Honours has seven chapters like Pioneers and Trail Blazers (21 personalities of which only 3 are living); Leaders and Superiors (16 protagonists, most of them living); Outstanding Alumni (19 people); Great Achievers (22 people); Silent Heroes (6); Support Personnel like dhobi, driver, and cook; and Outstanding Benefactors (5 categories).
The fourth part: Salesian College from the Golden to the Platinum Jubilee has 8 chapters. Starting with Golden Jubilee Tribute (1938 to 1988) with tributes from 20 eminent personalities; Visitors and Dignitaries (8); Today’s Generation Speaks (2015); Historical News Highlights; Salesian College Responds to Emergencies (landslides, the refugee crisis, and earthquake); The Salesian Project Today; The Salesian College Today; and Salesian College History and Legacy.
The fifth part has four appendices: Salesian College Chronicles; Salesian College: Life if the Early Days – diary excerpts; The Darjeeling Scene; and Darjeeling Sonada Locality. The section Glimpses of the Past has photos of 22 Rectors and Principals as well as 3 alumni archbishops and 8 bishops; one-page bibliography and one page of postscript by the principal followed by glossary notes; and indices by names and places.
The book is edited by Trophy D’Souza, an author and Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Consultant, and former faculty at Salesian College Sonada who currently lives in London.
Salesian College established in Shillong in 1933 was shifted to Gorabari village near Sonada, Darjeeling in 1938. Today, there are over 400 students doing their Bachelor’s degree in 10 streams in Sonada while over 1,400 students pursue both Under Graduate and Post Graduate studies in Salesian College Siliguri Campus since 2009, both morning and day sessions.
In 2000, the college lost its exclusively residential status when the college opened its gates to local day scholars. In 2010, the college was conferred the status of a College with Potential for Excellence (CPE) by University Grants Commission, New Delhi and in March 2012 the college was re-accredited by NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council) with ‘A’ Grade (CGPA of 3.16 out of 4). The college is the first to receive such a grade and retain it into the 3rd Cycle with A-Grade (May 2019) under the University of North Bengal.
Apart from offering academic and skill-based courses for the students, the college also runs Salesian Publications, Salesian Research Institute, Salesian Translation Centre as well as Radio Salesian 90.8 FM (2016) community radio, and Salesian Television (2017). The college is also a distance education centre for IGNOU (Indira Gandhi National Open University) and has regular short-term job oriented skills training for youth under Don Bosco Tech India.