by Ariosto J. Coelho, Ph.D., MFT


Research Papers: The Aging Population - The personal vocation - Don Bosco's Life Project - SHOWERS OF BLESSINGS

Editorials: Cedar, Winter 2002 - Cedar, Fall 2002 - Convalescent Hospital Ministry

Seven stories on Joseph - Mandalas, Personal Mythology and Midlife Spirituality [1994]





Goan Overseas Digest, No.10.1, Jan. 2002






True Stories of Terror, Trauma and Transformation in Sulcorna, Goa

The eleventh day of the ninth month of the first year of the third millennium will probably go down in history as a day of terror and trauma. This day will be remembered by the residents of New York, the United States of America and many other nations of the world as a day that transformed, not only the security of the traveling public but also the way people responded to terror. Terror, trauma and transformation are universal experiences that transcend history and territory. On this eleventh day of the eleventh month my memory transports me to the banks of Kushavati in Sulcorna, Goa, as I write these stories of courage and achievement in the midst of pain, fear and loss.

Sulcorna, a tiny and remote village situated on the river Kushavati, is nestled among the jungles and hills that border on the Quepem, Sanguem and Canacona talukas (administrative provinces) in south central Goa. Decades prior to my destination at the Don Bosco Farm in Sulcorna, my dad had visited this tiny geographical entity in 1942 and written a poem in Portuguese entitled AvaliaÁ„o em Sulcorna. In this poem Adv. Xavierito Coelho described the hardships involved in carrying out his assignment in a distant village without access by motorable roads and no significant landmarks, save those provided by natureís bounty. Plans for bridges and roads were being drawn and approvals for authorizing them were underway in 1978, when I was commissioned by Fr. Tony DíSouza, the Salesian Provincial of Bombay, to assist Fr. Olivio Miranda in placing the Farm in Sulcorna on the Salesian map as a viable educational institution.

Fr. Olivio Miranda, the Rector of the Don Bosco Farm, was extremely sad on the morning of the day when Pope Paul VI breathed his last in the Vatican City, August 6, 1978. He called me close to him and nervously whispered in my ears, "Ariosto, I have to rush to Pangim." As he hurriedly prepared his futfutti, a motorized two wheeler, he continued feebly "I need to seek legal recourse. Our MLA, Mr. Dilkush Desai, has sent workers into our farm land and these men are digging the foundations for a temple inside our property without our consent, nay, despite my objection to the contrary." I was confused with this dismal tiding. I was, now, alone. The third member of the Salesian Community in Sulcorna, Bro. Ludvik Zabret -the Farm Manager- was away in Yugoslavia. As Olivio left for the capital city, I was responsible for the Farmersí Rehabilitation Society, 35 families and 75 daily workers who either lived or worked on the Farm, the Elementary School with 40 children, the Informal Technical Institute with 20 trainees, the Savio Boarding with 30 residents, and other facilities to serve the poor and needy.

Over the months and years that followed I found myself at the crossroads with increasing conflicts and insurmountable legal problems. Two plots of land with hundreds of yielding coconut trees, thousands of cashew plants and other trees were taken away from the Salesians in Sulcorna and a Court Receiver was appointed. Mining leases to extract ferrous manganese ore were granted on cultivated agricultural land and operations were underway to fell trees, a very quick and lucrative business. What was once the peaceful grazing ground for the Indian bison had become a land of wild fury with painful stories of terror.

The sun had already set beneath the wet western skies into the waters of the Arabian sea and the cows had gone home to rest in their dark and damp sheds in Pirla, a village adjacent to and bordering the Farm. The honking announcing the arrival of the only bus bound for Pirla from Vasco via Margao was heard as usual, but the tractor with the trailor that had been sent to pick up the Farm workers, who were returning from their vacation in Tamilnadu, was exceptionally late in coming back from Pirla. The driver and the terrorized workers who got back had been assaulted and beaten up by the local bebdes, drunks, instigated by the MLA.

A few days later, when the paddy was almost ready for harvesting and the cane was growing taller with the occasional rain showers and the sun was smiling brightly, I was enjoying the company of two friends from the Indian Social Institute in Bangalore. All of a sudden I was summoned to our sugar cane plantation because some assailants were creating problems. Little did I realize that I was entering a hornetís nest. It was the bebdes again, this time they were out to get me. They snatched a camera which I was holding, hurled abuses at me, charged with bamboo sticks to poke me, picked up rocks to hurl at me and danced around taunting me. Within a few minutes I was surrounded by the already terrorized farm hands, now being re-traumatized. They offered me protection against the drunks, who were sent to molest me. This was just the beginning of their threats towards my person. Over the nine years that I spent working in Sulcorna I was on many occasions advised, "Ariosto, do not return to Sulcorna on your Yezdi motor cycle today. They are waiting to kill you." Dauntless on every occasion, I did go back at all hours of day and night to be with the little, the lowly and the lost in Sulcorna.

As I look back I realize the power captured by Paul of Tarsus when he writes "in my weakness the Lord is my strength." Yes, in my weakness the Lord provided me with strength to walk across the river Kushavati many thousand times each of those nine years. Simply, the Lord made me experience the power of his people. Freely, the Lord chose for me the path of protection and non-violence. Fully, the Lord sent helpers who made up for my weakness in carrying out His plan for Salesian work in Sulcorna.

On October 20th 1986, Dr. Gopal Singh, the Lt. Governor of Goa, inaugurated the Don Bosco Agro-Educational Complex while Fr. Aurelio Maschio, a pioneer and architect of Salesian works in the Western region of India, blessed the new building for the Farm High School in Sulcorna. Fr. Chrysanthus Saldanha, the Salesian Provincial of Bombay, joined Archbishop Raul Gonsalves, Patriarch of Goa, in thanking God, Mary Help of All Believers and St. John Bosco on January 31st 1987 for the wondrous works realized in Sulcorna in spite of deadly odds.

I recall the heroic times when in spite of all the terror and trauma Don Bosco Farm was gradually transformed into a Complex of Salesian Activities. I was at Ouvres et Mission de Don Bosco in Lyons, France, when on September 1, 1988, I received a letter from Fr. Michael Mascarenhas, Rector in Sulcorna, with a typed carbon copy of the ĎResults of the First Batch (S.S.C.) from Don Bosco Farm High School, March 1988.í I wet the letter with tears of joy as I paused at the dots in the handwritten note: "We remembered the past Superiors & above all the Rector ... You will understand things better .... God bless all those who had faith in these kids." Many years later, on May 21, 2001, I could hear the distant voice of Fr. Adolph Furtado, Vice Provincial of the Salesians, calling me from Mumbai, "Ariosto, today we received the news that the Court Receiver has returned the two attached plots to the Salesian Farm in Sulcorna. It has been over 22 years of a painful and tense struggle. Victory is ours today. Weíre grateful to God, you and others who dared and hoped."


Goan Overseas Digest, No.10.3, July 2002

Walking on Water



Experiential Insights into Mystical Consciousness and Interfaith Transformation


Spirituality both within and beyond the realm of religion -interfaith- is what I like to dwell on. Spirituality means different things to different people. In Christianity and Judaism every human being is created in Godís image and likeness. Hinduism dwells on atman as seeking oneness with brahman. Buddhism recognizes the eightfold path to enlightenment. Islam seeks the path of brotherhood. Taoism flows with the path of nature. In its broadest sense, spirituality could be described as the unchanging core at the heart of oneís being which gives rise to a variety of experiences and expressions: awakening, balancing and centering delight in the gifts (1Cor. 12/4-11) and fruits (Gal. 5/22) of the Holy Spirit.


I was pleasantly surprised with what Fr. Savio Rodrigues, S.J., is reported to have said about the universality of ĎThe Padre Arupe Institute of Counseling and Spiritualityí in the latest issue of the Goan Overseas Digest (Apr-Jun 2002), "Our concern is with self-realization and discovery of Goa within oneself, as opposed to naming a God." Even if there was a typo in this statement, I would like to know how one could get from the "discovery of Goa" to God? Probably by considering what another member of the Society of Jesus wrote in Letting Go... Letting God ... (Currie, 1984). How does one "let go" "Goa" for "God"? My journey to self-realization (Coelho, 1994) has led me through the processes of (letting go A) awakening, (B) balancing and (C) centering (D) delight beyond "naming a God." It is this experiential process along the river of recognition that I want to share with you because "the story of anyone of us is in some measure the story of us all" (Buechner, 1984).


At the close of the silent retreat at ĎThe Xavier Center for Historical Researchí in Porvorim, Goa on August 8, 1987, I decided to leave the security of the boat of Peter as I answered Jesusí call "come" (Mt. 14/29). My journey across the water was sustained by the mystical dimensions of "I have come so that they may life and have it to the full" (Jn. 10/10) and "Godís glory is in living humans and full life for humans is in the vision of God" (St. Iranaeus of Lyons). As I sought an existential blending of the realization of fullness in the Hindu tradition of my ancestors, I was led to the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 5th Aditya, 1st Brahmana, 1st Mantra (Shankar & Harrison, 1997)

"Om, Poornamadah Poornamidam, Poornaat Poornamudachyate. Poornasya Poornamaaddaaya Poornamevaavashishyate,"

which when translated from the original Sanskrit could mean:

Om! That is perfect, this is perfect. What comes from such perfection is truly perfect. What remains after perfection is yet perfect.

Om! That [supreme Brahman] is infinite, and this [conditioned Brahman] is infinite. The infinite [conditioned Brahman] proceeds from the infinite [supreme Brahman]. [Then through knowledge], realizing the infinitude of the infinite [conditioned Brahman], it remains as the infinite [unconditioned Brahman] alone.


As I walked on the water I enfolded experiences of wholeness at mid-life. The expressions of Jaidev Singh (1990) unfolding the heart of the doctrine of recognition in Pratyabhijnahrdayam by Ksemaraja, a disciple of Abhinavagupta, offered me the key I needed to realize Poornata, fullness or at-one-ment.


The word pratyabhijna means Ďre-cognition.í The individual Self (or jiva) is divine, or Siva, but has forgotten his real nature and is identified with his psycho-physical mechanism. The teaching is meant to enable him to recognize that his true nature, his real Self, is none other than Siva, and to suggest to him the spiritual discipline by which he can attain Ďat-one-mentí with him.


Awakening: Religio as Pratyabhijna


In the Fall of 1987, after successfully completing two terms as the Rector of the Don Bosco Agro-Educational Complex in Sulcorna, Goa, I was sent to specialize in religio, Catholic Spiritual Theology at Universita Pontificia Salesiana in Rome. At this stage of my life I was definitely interested in acquiring knowledge and degrees, but my heart was set more on integration through spiritual practices than on academic exercises. The Practice of Process Meditation (Progoff, 1981) enabled me to transcend my memories within and beyond my motherís womb as well as my imagination of a life beyond my fatherís tomb and thus experience visions of the void: nothingness beyond the womb and the tomb.


My quest for wholeness led me to a number of countries and schools. In the Winter of 1993, while working on my doctoral dissertation in Philosophy and Religion at ĎThe California Institute of Integral Studiesí in San Francisco I was led to Drawing the Light Within (Cornell,1990). What emerged was a polychromatic mandala on black paper, which I entitled Moima, ĎGloryí in Konkani.



 As I prayerfully meditated on Moima for a month, I experienced pratyabhijna: recognition of fullness beyond the revelation of gift. As I wrote the dissertation that flowed from this existential process using the Experiential Method (Kidd & Kidd, 1990) I was able to give expression to experiences which were published under the title, Mandalas, Personal Mythology and Midlife Spirituality: A Trans-Epistemological Inquiry into Mid-life Transformation Blending Integral Art, Roman Catholic Tradition and Purna Yoga.


Awakening religio, which in Latin means Ďlinking again,í required that I understood the metaphor of religion as a process of de-linking and re-linking. As I embraced the light of recognition, pratyabhijna, I agreed with E. Jantsch (1976) who described this process as follows:

The process of searching and activating self-images is the real re-ligio, the linking backwards to our own origins, in which brahman and atman become one: How do I know the ways of all things at the Beginning? By what is within me. (Lao-tzu, Tao Te Ching)

Re-ligio can be experienced in the oneness to which all evolutionary processes link back - be it called the All of Hermetic philosophy, or shunyata (the Void, the source of all refined qualities) in Buddhism, or "extensive continuum" (A. N. Whitehead), or pleroma, the "nothingness which has all qualities" (C. G. Jung)


Balancing: Mandalas unfolding-enfolding


With Pratyabhijna as my magic synthesis of recognition I felt comfortable to share my interfaith approach to a global spirituality. I believed that the advances in science and technology, the advent of the age of pluralism in our contemporary society and the wealth of the mystical traditions of the world would create "a new leap into coherence" (Houston, 1983) or a new mandala. In Sanskrit a mandala is a circle (manda) or a center (la) and represents the whole (Jung, 1972), the cosmos in miniature (Eliade, 1968), a map of consciousness (Tucci, 1973), a reflection of the soul (Fincher, 1991) and an instrument to unfold in a limited way the enfolded illimitable power (Shankaranarayana, 1970) or the lotus of enlightenment (Govinda, 1969). The Vice-Chancellor of Goa University, P. R. Dubhashi (1993), asserts that "to a Hindu mythologist the whole world is a mandala" and Robert Thurman (1997) adds that "every human being is a mandala, rather than just a point of awareness."


While in Panaji, Goa, in 1994, I requested a journalist friend to write about my newly published book in the local papers. I was taken aback with his reply, "the situation of religious fanaticism in India today, especially after the destruction of Babri Masjid makes it difficult to propagate your spiritual insight." I waited. While chanting my mantra Om! Viva! Santi! Moima! I continued to awaken the eternal radiance, balance fullness of life and center peace within and beyond delight. Today, I wonder if now is the right time!


Centering: Siva-Sakti


If we are able to be fully present to the reality of the eternal experience (Siva -the male principle, the primordial unchanging energy or the light of pure consciousness) and the historical expression (Sakti -the female principle, the changing wave of consciousness) we open our lives to the transforming experience and expression of The Power of Now (Tolle, 1999). This leads to real communion between self and others. The end result being happier human beings and a more peaceful coexistence.


In Finding Your Religion Rev. Scotty McLennan (1999) describes a spectrum of the many stages of faith with the corresponding experiences of and expressions for God. These range from the magical stage with the image of an All-powerful God to the unitive stage of the All-pervasive God. Anthony de Mello (1989) has captured the essence of these stages in the following vignette.


"There are three stages in one's spiritual development," said the Master. "The carnal, the spiritual and the divine." "What is the carnal stage?" asked the eager disciples. "That's the stage when trees are seen as trees and mountains as mountains." "And the spiritual?" "That's when one looks more deeply into things -- then trees are no longer trees and mountains no longer mountains." "And the divine?" "Ah, that's Enlightenment," said the Master with a chuckle, "when trees become trees again and mountains, mountains."


Delight: Samadhi


Samadhi is described as the deepest level of meditation in which the mind becomes completely absorbed in the uninterrupted contemplation of reality and ceases to function other than as pure consciousness, or "on that day you will know that I am in my Father and you in me and I in you" (Jn. 14/20). In his Preface to Personal Journeys to Spiritual Truth, Biermann (2000) writes, " the path of faith in India is a path well worn by the enlightened, the illuminated, the self-realized, the detached, the renounced, and the fully surrendered for over four thousand years."

As we enter the twenty first century Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997), Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948 ) and Joseph Naik Vaz (1651-1711) can be counted among those fully-surrendered and self-realized individuals who, as they walked on this planet, experienced samadhi or communion with Jesus and the Father. These three shared the delight of their lives with the little, the lowly and the lost in different countries of the world. They are an inspiration to me as I continue walking on water along the river of recognition - awakening, balancing and centering delight. Let me conclude this article on interfaith spirituality with a recommendation offered by Mother Teresa of Calcutta (Collopy, 1996):

"Keep the joy of loving the poor

and share this joy with all you meet.

Remember works of love are works of peace.

God bless you."



Biermann, D., (2000). Samadhi: Personal journeys to spiritual truth. Boston: Sahambala Publications.

Buechner, F., (1984). The sacred journey. New York: Walker and Company.

Coelho, A.J., (1994). Mandalas, personal mythology and midlife spirituality: A trans-epistemological inquiry into mid-life transformation blending integral art, Roman Catholic tradition and Purna Yoga. Aquem, Goa: Moima Publications.

Collopy, M., (1996). Works of love are works of peace: Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the Missionaries of Charity. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Cornell, J., (1990). Drawing the light from within: Keys to awaken your creative power. New York: Prentice Hall Press.

Currie, J., (1984). Letting go... letting God...: Retreat renewal themes. Bangalore: Asian Trading Corporation.

Dubashi, P. R., (1994). Foreward. Coelho, A. J., Mandalas, personal mythology and midlife spirituality. Aquem, Goa: Moima Publications. v.

Eliade, M., (1968). Myth and reality. New York and Evanston: Harper Torchbooks.

Fincher, S., (1991). Creating mandalas for insight, healing and self-expression. Boston: Shambala Publications.

Govinda, L. A., (1969). Foundations of Tibetan mysticism: According to the esoteric teachings of the great mantra OM MANI PADME HUM. York Beach: Samuel Weiser, Inc.

Houston, J., (1983). The new world religion. Terrytown Letter, June 1983.

Iranaeus of Lyons. (1974). Against the Heresies. Bk.4,20,5-7. The Divine Office Vol III. London: Collins. 76*-78*.

Jantsch, E., et al. (1976). Evolution and consciousness: Human systems in transition. Reading: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.

Jung, C. G., (1972). Mandala Symbolism. trans. R. F. C. Hull. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Kidd, S. D. and Kidd, J. W., (1990). Experiential method: Qualitative research in the humanities using metaphysics and phenomenology. New York: Peter Lang Publishing HouseMcLennan, S., (1999). Finding your religion: When the faith you grew up with has lost its meaning. San Francisco: HaperSanFrancisco.

Mello, A. D., (1989). The heart of the enlightened: A book of story meditations. New York: Doubleday.

Progoff, I., (1980). The practice of process meditation: The intensive journal way to spiritual experience. New York: Dialogue House Library.

Shankaranarayanan, S., (1970). Sri Chakra. Pondicherry: Dipti Publications.

Shankar, R. and Harrison, G., (1997). Chants of India. U.K.: Angel Records.

Signh, J., (1990). The Doctrine of Recognition: A translation of Ksemarajaís Pratyabhijnahrdayam. New York: SUNY Press.

Tolle, E., (1999). The power of now: A guide to spiritual enlightenment. Novato: New World Library.



Writings by the author


1983-87. Editorials in The Song of Sulcorna. Annual Souvenir of Don Bosco Agro-Educational Complex, Sulcorna Goa, India.


1989. "The personal vocation of Don Bosco: A contribution to vocational spiritual theology." Universitas Salesiana, Rome, Italy.


1993. "Mandalas unfolding enfolding: A phenomenological inquiry into life and revelation." CIIS, San Francisco CA, U.S.A.


1994. Mandalas, Personal Mythology and Midlife Spirituality: A trans-epistemological inquiry into mid-life transformation blending Integral Art, Roman Catholic Tradition and Purna Yoga. Aquem: Moima Publications.


1997. "The experience of life satisfaction and the aging population: A paper in clinical art therapy." NDN University. Belmont CA, U.S.A.


1997-2006. From the Rectorís Desk: Pastoral Messages in the Sunday Bulletin of St. Johnís Parish Church. Hayward CA, U.S.A.


2000-03. Editorials in Cedar. Newsletter of Convalescent Hospital Ministry of Santa Clara Valley. Campbell CA, U.S.A.


2002. "Walking on the waters of river Kushavati: Stories of Trauma." Article in Goan Overseas Digest, No.10.1


2002. "Along the river of recognition: praty~bhijna." Article in Goan Overseas Digest, No.10.3


2007. "Empathetic detachment: A key to the healing alliance in parent child relationships." Article in Psychological Foundations -The Journal, Vol IX (1).


2008. (unpublished.) "No better gift: Spiritual direction with the rhythm of the breath. Seven stories on Joseph, Meditations and creative expressions."


2010. Integral Art: How to Awaken, Balance and Center Delight - Drawings and Paintings of Soul Travel. San Bruno: Spiritual Direction.




 IN harmony  with

The Rhythm of the Breath


Research Papers



The Aging Population, and The Experience of Life Satisfaction: A Phenomenological Paper in Clinical Art Therapy (1997)

AN ABSTRACT of the dissertation submitted by Ariosto J. Coelho, Ph.D., to the Graduate School at College of Notre Dame (University of Notre Dame de Namur) in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Arts in Marital and Family Therapy - Art Therapy. Belmont, California, April 1997

This research paper discusses an art therapy session conducted to demonstrate how men and women age 65-and-over experience life satisfaction. The theoretical basis for the research is supported by Erik Erikson's developmental stages of life. The major crisis in old age is the conflict between integrity and despair, and the primary goal is to become an integrated and self-accepting person.


This phenomenological paper uses the experiential method developed by Sunnie Kidd and James Kidd. Five seniors living in a retirement community for elders were first led through a creative visualization to imagine the comfort of My Shelter of Glory and to revisit the past, then directed to draw The Circle of Life within the secure structure of a personal mandala and, finally, asked to complete The Life Satisfaction Questionnaire individually. These three interventions were designed by the researcher specifically for this project. The artwork and the written experiential expressions of these five senior men  and women were then collected and classified into themes.


The findings reveal themes that are related to their ability to recall happy times, the ability to work with a sense of accomplishment and personal satisfaction. That the five seniors in this research enjoyed a rather high level of life satisfaction is demonstrated not only by the self-ratings in their questionnaire but also by their visual art, written expressions and oral comments. The Literature Review suggests that men and women over age 65 are torn between integrity and despair are more likely to experience greater levels of life satisfaction when they are healthy, educated, have economic and material stability and lead socially and physically active lives. This experiential research in clinical art therapy supports earlier research on life satisfaction and adds to the body of knowledge concerning the psychological experience of life satisfaction and the wisdom of the 65-and-over population.



The personal vocation of Don Bosco as reflected in the Memorie dellíOratorio di San Francesco Di Sales dal 1815 al 1855: A Contribution to Vocation Spirituality (1989)

The presentation at the defense of the dissertation to obtain the Licentiam Teologia -specialisatione spiritualitatis at Pontificia Studiorum Unversitas Salesiana written by Josť Ariosto Coelho, SDB, and moderated by Achille Maria Triacca, SDB. Rome, 1989.

1. Introduction

As I gladly yet humbly share the findings of this dissertation with you, I would like to begin by praying with the sentiments of the Nobel laureate, Indian poet and mystic Rabindranath Tagore:


"What divine drink wouldst thou have, my God,

from this overflowing cup of my life?

My poet, is thy delight to see thy creation

through my eyes and to stand

at the portals of my ears

silently to listen to thy own eternal harmony?

Thy world is weaving words in my mind

and thy joy is adding music to them.

Thou givest thyself to me in love

and then feelest thine own entire sweetness in me."


2. The Motivation

I came to know Don Bosco [DB] for the first time in June 1960. Over the years as I grew closer to him, my curiosity and devotion led me to understand him deeper and better. When the responsibles of the Salesian Province of Bombay selected me to study Spiritual Theology and to take a Licenza at the Universita' Pontificia Salesiana in Rome, I felt a golden opportunity was being offered to me to satisfy my great desire to get to know DB from as close as possible. I could think of no better theme than to study his PERSONAL VOCATION. For this purpose, of all his writings, I chose the Memorie dell'Oratorio [MO], one of his most personal writings, wherein he speaks at length about the divine origins of the Oratorio, his life-project.


3. The Scope

This study carried out in the realm of spiritual theology, is meant to offer a humble contribution in the field of "vocation-spirituality". To my knowledge, up to now no similar study has been carried out on The Personal Vocation of DB in the MO. Hence, I feel happy to offer my humble contribution.


4. The methodology

That DB lived and wrote more than a century ago has obvious consequences on the methodology I have to adopt. This study will certainly be unfounded if I do not contextualize DB and the MO in their proper historical contexts.

While it is anachronistic and naive to expect to find in DB's writings the use of the term "personal vocation" as we use it today, still, I feel it is not altogether out of place to look for corresponding expressions or parallelisms of a reality that is theologically and spiritually significant and valid.

It is obvious that I have to use a number of methods. While for the initial chapters I have predominantly used the historical method; for the analytical part, which is based on the Appendices I have recourse to linguistic and literary analyses of the text, as well to the phenomenological approach to understand the flow of DB's life within the cotext and context of the MO. In the synthetic and evaluative parts I depend on the findings obtained thus far to arrive at my conclusions.


5. From the hypothesis to the thesis

Can I study the "personal vocation of DB in the MO"? Is there the reality of "DB's personal vocation in the MO"? Throughout my preoccupation has been to give an adequate answer with the scientific tools at my disposal in the realm of theology, and specifically in the field of "vocation-spirituality".

The Introductory Section consists of three chapters. After explaining the purpose, the scope and the limits of this study in Chapter I, Yet Another Study?, I proceed to describe The Personal Vocation in Chapter II, as a divine call in Christ from all eternity, which evokes a personal and free response in the history of every single individual to a unitary project of life. Then, I proceed to contextualize Don Bosco and his Memorie dell'Oratorio in Chapter III.


In the Analytical Section, throughout Chapter IV, Reflections in the Mirror of the MO, I dwell at length on the four key-words: vocazione, chiamata, progetto, vita; as used by DB in the MO. I also consider the origins, the development and the organization of the Oratorio as reflected by DB in the three decades of the MO.


In the Synthetic Section, Chapter V, Don Bosco's Hymn to Harmony, I consider DB's vocational and spiritual itinerary which begins simply with faith, grows as he discerns freely with hope, and finally reaches full maturity with love. I also highlight the biblical, marian and liturgico-sacramental dimensions of his spiritual growth into Christ.


In the Evaluative/Concluding Section, Chapter VI, A life with and for God and Youth!, I dwell on my conclusions. At this stage I can confidently affirm that in the MO, DB reflects his personal vocation:

1.In the MO DB describes adequately the two dimensions [vertical and horizontal] which make up the principle of unity in the life of every member of the church.

2.The dynamic awareness that he receives at the age of nine keeps growing both in intensity and duration as he lives and prepares himself to receive his first Holy Communion, the ecclesiastical habit and the sacrament of the Priesthood.

3.In silence [quiet, recollectedness and meditation] which he cherishes so much, he highlights the harmony between the Trinitarian [communitarian] and the personal dimensions of his life in the Spirit.

4.Spiritual direction continuously sought and received with simplicity and sincerity led him to realize the absolute surrender that God wants from him.

5.In realizing the project of the Oratory at Valdocco in Turin, he realizes his own life-project,

6. Whereby DB realizes the fulfillment of the God-given meaning to his life "He called me by name and he ordered me to lead those youngsters".


I am not too sure if:

1.In the MO DB offers a clear description of his prayer life.

2.All that he narrates about his childhood is verifiably factual and objectively true.

3.DB would have written the MO even if the Holy Father had not asked him to write it.

4.In the MO DB is conditioned by the lives of the models that he wrote for the Oratory.

What a life project! Is it not really wonderful to see how a personal vocation lived simply with faith, freely with hope and fully in love with and for God and youth has led and is leading to harmony the lives of so many beyond the confines of Valdocco in Turin!


6. The limitations

The first limitation concerns the personal nature of the MO as well as about the historical uncertainties that have inadvertently crept into it. The second limitation comes from the term "personal vocation" which could be defined or described in a number of ways. The very nature of the tesina in view of obtaining a Licence in a Pontifical University has its own inherent limitations.


7. By way of conclusion

I am aware that I have studied in a very limited way some aspects of "the personal vocation of DB in the MO". These reflections of mine in the mirror of the MO could provide inspiration and challenges for future study and research on other aspects and dimensions of the rich and inexhaustible reality of the "personal vocation as harmony in Christ". Still in the field of "vocation-spirituality" one could go deeper into the biblical, Patrogenetic, Christocentric, Pneumatological, Ecclesial, Marian, Liturgico-sacramental, Ecologico-universal and Escathological dimensions of "DB's personal vocation in the MO".


8. Acknowlegement

I am first and foremost grateful to God for the gift of DB to the church, humanity and creation; and for having given me this opportunity to study his "personal vocation in the MO" in this Universita' Pontificia Salesiana under the guidance of Don Achille Maria Triacca. With humble gratitude I surrender this insignificant effort to the Ground of my Being.


My debt of gratitude goes next to all who have been and are God's instruments in my life, especially hic et nunc as I learn to be scientific and critical while I defend this dissertation. Thanks to Don Cossimo Semeraro for making himself available today and for going in detail through my work. And to you, Don Georgio Zevini thanks for presiding over this commission. Last but not the least, I cannot let go without at least a mention, the support of Don Juan Picca, the Dean of the Faculty, and of Don Josip Strus, the Director of the Institute, and of all the other members of the Faculty.


I am immensely grateful to all who have helped me in their own gentle way. While I freely surrender with thanks, I am humbly and fully open to all that lies in store for me. For all that has been "Thanks"; for all that could have been better and wasn't "Sorry"; and for all that is to come "Yes."




Don Bosco's Life Project

An excerpt from the tesina "The personal vocation of Don Bosco as reflected in the Memorie dellíOratorio di San Francesco Di Sales dal 1815 al 1855. A Contribution to Vocation Spirituality." Pages 24-28 & 105-107. Footnotes and references have been excluded here.


3.1 Don Bosco: A Spiritual Writer


A brief biographical sketch:


Gioanni Melchiorre Bosco, the third son of Francesco Bosco and the second son of Margherita Occhiena, was born at Murialdo in Castelnuovo d'Asti in the province of Piemont in Northern Italy on August 16, 1815. His parents were poor farmers who worked hard and lived honestly within their means. He was hardly two years old when, at the death of his father on May 12, 1817, he became an orphan and was destined to experience the depth of a mother's balanced love.


As an energetic but poor youth he directs his energies to spread joy among other youths, thus he discovers the desire to follow his vocation to the priesthood. After his ordination at Turin, Italy on June 5, 1841 he continues his studies at the Convitto Ecclesiastico of Turin. With the guidance of his confessor and friend Don Giuseppe Cafasso he discovers his vocation for the poor and vagrant youth.  As a young, dynamic and zealous priest he dedicates all his energies for the welfare of the poor and abandoned youth of Turin. Unable to cope up all alone with his work that had acquired phenomenal proportions he solicits help from others, especially from his own pupils. On May 14, 1862 twenty-two young men make private vows to stay with DB and continue his work of helping the young boys, thus starting the religious congregation, today known as the Salesians of Don Bosco. With the aid of Suora Maria Domenica Mazzarello in 1872 he establishes the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, a religious institute for women to look after girls. In 1875 his followers cross the frontiers of Italy and reach even as far as South America. In 1876 he establishes the Union of the Salesian Cooperators for Catholic lay people interested in following his spirit, charism and mission for the young.


At the age of 72 the fatherless Father of the abandoned youth breathes his last at Valdocco in Turin on January 31, 1888.


A spiritual master and writer:


Don Bosco wrote and published a great deal. The dissemination of popular reading matter was one of his main pastoral concerns, especially since 1853, and throughout the monthly issues of The Catholic Readings. To date the most complete and critically correct catologue of his works is given by Stella in his book Gli scritti a stampa di S. Giovanni Bosco. The 1174 titles give us abundant and detailed information on all the editions and publications [including the translations] even the anonymous and doubtful ones either attributed or attributable to Don Bosco. The edited works are divided into three categories. The first category comprises textbooks, light literature and drama, lives of saints, biographies and narratives, booklets on religious instruction and prayer, and  writings pertaining to the Oratory and the Salesian project. The second category includes circular letters, programmes, appeals, declarations, reports and posters. The third category comprises the articles in the Salesian Bulletin in Italian, French and Spanish.


It is difficult to attempt an overall assessment of the value of Don Bosco's writings. I would like to dwell for a while on the spiritual value of his doctrine and writings.


"The real and central core of Don Bosco's doctrine is his own life, his own wonderfully rich spiritual experience, an experience that belongs to one of the greatest charismatic figures of the church... Prompted by immediate pastoral concerns and seemingly favourable circumstances for forty years, the spiritual pages he left us are written in many different literary styles. They are exceedingly readable and interesting, which is precisely why Don Bosco is one of the most accessible of spiritual masters."


DB is a realist, who prefers practice to theory, the lived to the abstract, facts to words. He is convinced that the word be it written or spoken is inadequate to express the complexity and the wealth  of his aspirations and projects; still as a priest and as an educator of the youth and of people of God he wants to use every means, including the press, at the service of the Gospel.


Stella concludes his lengthy study on the religious elements in the educative system of DB, by stating that his system of education to sanctity is more than a theology or a pedagogy. It is in its most profound sense a spirituality.


In the galaxy of spiritual writers no two stars are alike. Augustine of Hippo, Ignatius of Loyola, Theresa of Avila, John of the Cross and Charles de Foucauld were definitely great spiritual giants and renowned writers. Very much like them and still much unlike each one of them DB too, in his own way, is to be counted as another bright star.


I fail to understand why Aubry states "though a spiritual 'master', Don Bosco is not a spiritual 'writer'". According to him despite his brilliant mind DB remains a Piedmontese farmer, more open to actual experience than to abstract theories.


While disagreeing with this opinion of Aubry, I want to hold on to the view that DB's spiritual writings are still being studied and that his spiritual heritage which integrates action with prayer have been creating new and harmonious waves in the course of history for over a hundred years and are relevant to the man of today.


I would like to conclude by stating that DB's contribution in the field of education to faith and spirituality is phenomenal. Cardinal Alimonda of Turin has expressed this adequately when he said that it is a system that is capable of divinizing the world. Pope John Paul II has made this more explicit and universal by officially declaring him "The Father and Teacher of the Young". Hence, DB can be rightly called a great spiritual master and a spiritual writer.


6.4 What a life-project!


The fatherless, farmer boy of Becchi is still hailed a hundred years after his death as the "Father of Fatherless Youth" in over a hundred nations of the world. On January 31, 1988, millions of youngsters of every race, colour and religion along with their educators celebrated his first death centenary in all the five continents and sang the praises of the poor and fatherless farmer boy of Becchi who has been acclaimed as "Saint John Bosco", a "Master in Education", the "Father and Teacher of Youth", a "Man in Union with God", a "Man Profoundly Human and Divine" and a "Prophet of Sanctity for the New Culture".


As I bring to a close this study I would like to have a glimpse of the project of DB's life that goes beyond the MO [1855/75] and that has not ended in spite of his death in 1888, but has transcended the barriers of time and has developed and expanded into a phenomenal world-wide project.


His project of life begun from eternity in God's mind, took concrete human form in the womb of Mamma Margherita in 1815, saw the humble beginnings of a dream on the meadows of Becchi at the age of nine around 1824 until it came to be a real project after it found a settled habitation in the Pinardi shed at Valdocco on April 12, 1846.


On January 31, 1888 his earthly sojourn over, DB was "called by God to render an account". There is no doubt that after his death God welcomed DB with his arms wide open and with the words of the Gospel: "Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. ... I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me." The church has authoritatively declared that DB is in the bosom of the Father when it beatified and canonized him a "saint". There is no doubt that DB had freely lived his personal vocation and realized fully the God-given project of his life. His was a Christian vocation par excellence and a growing spiritual itinerary that led him all along with greater faith, hope and love till the end. He lived the sequela Christi in the Johanine sense following the Son of God, the Good Shepherd ever more closely, until his life was configured in Him as he journeyed and led others along the way through the gate to the Father's house.  Like Mary he too was raised by the Holy Spirit to realize in his life the fullness of harmony between God-and-man, man-and-man, man-and-creation. This harmony was realized and lived by him as he celebrated both the liturgy of the sacraments as well as the liturgy of life. It is no little wonder then, that his life is considered to be a sacrament for the man of our times and is offered as a model that is worthy of emulation and imitation.


At the conclusion of DB's first death centenary there are a number of Christians who want to adhere closely to his mission, charism and spirit. There are in the church today a number of youth-movements, lay-organizations, secular-institutes and religious congregations that look up to DB for inspiration. The "Salesian Family" founded by DB has grown and comprises of a number of groups "who in different ways work for the salvation of the young". Among these the Salesians of Don Bosco "are recognized in the Church as a clerical religious institute of pontifical right dedicated to apostolic works". These Salesians are working all over the world and "are resolved to carry out the Founder's apostolic plan in a specific form of religious life: to be in the Church signs and bearers of the love of God for young people, especially those who are poor." These number seventeen thousand and fifty two professed Salesians and five hundred and ninety eight novices who have either accepted or want to accept freely, willingly and knowingly to carry on his life-project with and for God and youth all over the world in harmonious consonance with DB's "programme of life in the motto: Da mihi animas, cetera tolle."


Is it not really wonderful to see how a personal vocation lived simply in faith, freely with hope and fully in love with and for God and youth has led and is leading to harmony the lives of so many beyond the confines of Valdocco in Turin!




A CHAPTER from 38 UP: An autobiographical sketch, describing some aspects of my relationship with Pai, Xavierito Coelho [1900-1987], was written for the course Biography and Autobiography in Religious Education at the Institute of Pastoral Studies, Loyola University of Chicago, Chicago, IL on August 8, 1988.

"Ariosto, you must go home. Your mummy needs you by her side. Push aside every other consideration for the time being and go home. From my personal experience I can tell you how much my presence meant to my mum. Do not worry about what others may think or say, You have to take this decision now, lest you resent for the rest of your life. Be bold!"


"Adolph, I appreciate very much your emboldening encouragement. During the past three weeks, I have thought over and over again about the possibility, necessity and urgency of my going home, since the death of my dear dad in Goa, on November 6. I feel, that my superiors in Bombay, are not at all eager that I fly home. Besides, before leaving for Rome on August 16, I had already prepared mummy and other family members that distance and the high cost of travel, would prevent me from coming home in the event of a death. Right now, I feel very strongly like rushing home, but unless my dad gives me a powerful sign, I am not going to leave Rome."


This dialogue with my companion, Adolph Furtado, on the night of November 24, left me undecided yet tranquil. I had a very relaxed and peaceful sleep, with the thought that, if dad really wanted me to go home, he would see to it. That morning of November 25 was rainy, foggy and cold. At eight o'clock the telephone in my room began to buzz. As I lifted the receiver and brought it close to my ear, I recognized the familiar voice of Fr. Thomas Panakhezam, the Regional Superior for Asia.


Briefly, but assertively, he called me very urgently to his office at the Salesian Generalate in Rome, twenty five kilometers to the South of the University, where I reside since August 30 1987. As I entered his office, the unrhythmic dance of a myriad, multi-colored butterflies of anxiety churned in my tummy, and I was mortally frightened, lest I be asked to shoulder the highest responsibility in the province. When he said to me: " Fr. Luke Van Looy, the Councilor General for the Missions, is looking around for someone to go to India. Since you have not been home after the death of your dear dad, would you like to go to India?" all my fears and defenses crumbled to the ground like a pack of playing cards. In my boundless excitement I almost dashed into Fr. Luke, as I entered his office. His voice enchanted me even further when he made his request: "Ariosto, would you like to make a number of people happy? If you oblige and go to India, you will do me a great favor, and make your mummy extremely happy!" With tears of joy in my eyes and a lump in my throat, I embraced him as if he were my loving dad's sure answer to my indecision, and gave him my reply in the affirmative.


The urgency required to carry out Fr.Luke's mission, demanded that I got into India immediately, and flew to the North-Eastern Province of Dimapur in Nagaland before December 10. Swiss Air was the only agency that could help me with a confirmed air ticket to Bombay and back, as well as a $375 pass to fly anywhere in India, for a continuous period of three weeks.


The Korea bound jumbo jet touched the runway at the Sahar International Airport in Bombay, when the Salesians at Matunga had just finished celebrating the feast of St. Francis Xavier, the Patron of the Province, on December 3. As the Provincial Councilors were assembled for this festive occasion, Fr. Chris Saldanha, the Provincial, arranged for the last meeting with them, before he laid down office in January 1988, at the close of his six year term. Providentially, I too was present for that last Thanksgiving Mass along with Fr. Chris and the other councilors on that pleasant and sunny morning.


The afternoon of December 4 1987, was hot and sunny when the captain of the Indian Airlines jumbo announced descent and landing. I believed for a while that Goa had a new runway by the side of the cemetery at Navelim, where lie buried under six feet of red soil, the mortal remains of my once powerful dad. From the airport at Dabolim, the black Ambassador taxi, slowly but steadily wound its way through the rich coconut and mango groves flanking the narrow, winding and bumpy roads through those villages that feast more from the bounty of the Arabian Sea in South Goa. Within forty five minutes, we had covered a distance of twenty two kilometers to the cemetery by the side of the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, where once stood a temple to goddess Kunti, the mother to some of the Pandavas. I suddenly found myself next to a woman who was scratching the soil over a grave, and asked her with the same sentiments of Mary Magdalene, if she knew where they had laid my dad twenty nine days ago. I did not hear her feeble reply in Gauda Konkani, as all my attention was now focused on a shining, golden cross and on an equally small, white, marble slab below it, with an inscription etched in big, bold, black letters in Portuguese that struck me like a thunder bolt "JAZIGO DE ADV. XAVIERITO COELHO".


I was dumbfound. All my pent up feelings got the better of me. As streams of tears flowing down from my eyes, gently moistened the green turf and penetrated into the red soil, the empty silence of the deep and dark tomb was the only sound I could hear. These sounds of the spiral of silence led me from the cloud of confusion into the cloud of unknowing, where I could recognize once again the voice of my loving dad in the underground stream. His stream was one with the ocean. It was the infinite ocean of God's immense compassion, omnipotent mercy and everlasting love, what we call `being in heaven with the Trinity'. I could hear these consoling and rewarding words falling from the loving lips of Jesus as being addressed to my dad:





Selections from CEDAR: The Newsletter

of Convalescent Hospital Ministry [CHM]

of Santa Clara Valley, California





60% of convalescent hospital residents

have no outside visitors.


With CHM visitors, volunteers and partners we can do better in Santa Clara Valley.



105 CHM volunteers from 25 Churches offered over 20,000 hours of service to 1000 elderly and isolated residents in 25 convalescent facilities in 2002.




Hospital Ministry

of Santa Clara Valley


is a faith-based volunteer organization bringing human comfort and spiritual nurture to residents of convalescent facilities while respecting the faith traditions of those being served since 1983.


The Rev. Marie Henry started this Christ-centered ministry in San Jose, CA in 1983. It was incorporated as the Golden Retirement Age Spiritual Protection and granted the 501(c)3 status in 1984. In 1989 it was renamed as CHM of Santa Clara Valley.


CHM offers the following services to residents: One-to-one Elder Friendship, Chaplaincy, Worship Programs and Group Events.

CHM programs for volunteers include: Elder Friendship Training Program, Care of the Soul Support Group, Breakfast & Training Program, Visitor Certification Program and Team Events.

CHM recruits, trains and organizes volunteers.

CHM is guided by a Board of Directors.

CHM collaborates with its partners and seeks the support of generous donors.


Fr. Ariosto Coelho was the Executive Director from January 2000 up to March 2003.




Cedar, Winter 2002

Executive Director's Words

by  CHM ED Ariosto Coelho, Ph.D.


Twenty-five years ago, when I was ordained a Priest in Goa, India, I had not in my wildest dreams imagined that Iíd be ministering to such a wonderful group of volunteers and residents in California, USA. Godís ways are mysterious! I thank God for you and for all who have ministered to me, while I ministered and minister in Christís name. I would like to invite you to join me in prayer as I celebrate the Silver Eucharist on Saturday, December 21st at St. Johnís Parish Church in Hayward.

As suggested by Ballard George in his article Every One and Every Bit Counts I will do my bit of praying and working so that the good works (Mt. 25/25, 26, 40) at CHM continue in spite of the present financial crisis.

As CHM recalls twenty years of service in the Valley I would like to gratefully recall and prayerfully unite with all the past and present directors, volunteers, partners, donors and residents who have made this ministry possible. May God be praised!

May the New Year usher in renewed dedication and energy in our ministry, volunteers and supporters. I look forward to increasing our funds and volunteers. May Christ be born again with gifts of health, harmony and happiness for all in a world at peace!



Cedar, Winter 2002

Every One and Every Bit Counts

by CHM Director Ballard George


As a personal word, I am glad to have had the opportunity to work with presidents Vicki Krieger and Aki Okuno and with the various other people - Board, Staff and Volunteers.

For former director Carol Haywood, I am appreciative of her advocacy and speaking that led me to work into a place on the Board. I would note that our Board is strengthened by recent acquiring of new members. These include Father Mike Ferrito of our host church, Holy Spirit, and Malcolm Burke of Valley House Care Center, San Jose. We are appreciative of the hospitality extended by Holy Spirit.

One cannot help but be impressed by the activity report for the quarter recently turned in by Alyce Barone, our Program Coordinator. It is fine and sometimes needed to quote total numbers of volunteer hours but it may be more meaningful to see a more specific description of what is being done day by day. It was good to hear from Ariosto Coelho, our Executive Director, at the last board meeting about new churches and volunteers and a new care facility for CHM involvement.

I would like to report on some things that are in progress in terms of the fund raising committee, aimed at building our resources, which have diminished this year. One of these is the planned dinner in February described elsewhere [page 3]. We are working on setting up a scrip arrangement that I hope can be started soon. We are working on coin/cash boxes that can be used as "piggy banks" for children and others interested to save and contribute for our work, perhaps bringing them forward in worship service or "children's church." And we are working to get pledges in from individuals, as well as contacting churches. We would encourage volunteers and other supporting persons to earnestly consider contributing $1 or more per week, or $1 per month - whatever might work out for you, with careful and prayerful consideration. One thing is certain: you are important, and every one and every bit counts.



Cedar, Winter 2002

Facts and Figures to Assist You

by CHM President Akiko Okuno


Dear Friends,

While prayer and inspiration are very important criteria on which to base your pledge, in the name of the Board I would like to offer you some facts and figures to assist you.

Currently the Board is researching and formulating the budget for the upcoming year. CHMís activities are focused around Elder Friendship and Care of the Soul, two programs for residents and volunteers. Last year we estimated that we needed $6000 every month to meet the operating expenses which included staff compensation, overhead, office operations, training programs and support groups. Unfortunately, we did not meet our goal for 2002. Iím sad, but grateful to those who managed with less money and paycuts.

The recently created Volunteers and Partners Task Force led by Peggy White is excited by the possibility of launching a Youth Volunteer Program, which will require additional energy and expenses. The Fund Raising Task Force led by Ballard George is eager to increase our visibility and receipts. This effort also, calls for more work and money to prepare handouts, brochures, posters, ... and to do initial mailings and fund raising events. With these considerations in mind we will need $84,000 for 2003. This requires that the contributing organizations and individuals pledge, and make their pledge a generous one.

Remember that it is in giving that we receive. I thank you for your generosity in the past twenty years and count on you for your continued financial support. May Godís abiding presence in your lives be your reward.



Cedar, Fall 2002

"There, but for the grace of God, go I."

by Terry Sullivan


Terry Sullivan, a CHM Volunteer from Zion Lutheran Church, is a Member of the Fund Raising Task Force, writes about her love of CHM


Sixty percent of the people in convalescent hospitals never have a visitor. And "There, but for the grace of God, go I." I tried to put myself in the patientsí place, and I did not like what I saw or felt. This is the basic reason I became a part of CHM.

Why is it? Why are these people left to the care of strangers and never have family members or friends visit them? I am sure there are many reasons, but the reasons in themselves cannot make the lonely patient feel any better or less lonely. Nothing gets rid of friends faster then becoming ill. Whatever the reason, these folks still have a need for other people. CHM goes a long way in filling that need. The Convalescent Hospital Ministry is a wonderful organization. They work very hard to make the lives of lonely people a little less lonely and to give them something to look forward to during the week.

So many times, as the old saying goes, "You most always get back more then you give." When one visits a patient in a convalescent hospital, it is easy to see the number of people that could use a smile, a gentle touch, a word of kindness. In return one receives the privilege of seeing people become alert, start to take part and notice their surroundings. Sometimes one gets to sit in on an exercise class or hear an historian telling about the history of California. It is a lot of fun. You meet wonderful people and get to have a cup of tea with them.

As a member of the CHM Fund Raising Task Force I want to share with you some of my ideas. I am aware that CHM does not have enough funds to meet this yearís budget. CHM depends mostly on donations from individuals and churches. Other funding agencies on occasions have helped. I would like to invite you to help raise funds for CHM. Here are 7 suggestions that I want to share with you: 1. Ask your Church Council or Elders for a monthly pledge. 2. Ask your Church for $1 per member as a monthly or yearly pledge. 3. Hold a Flea Market and ask the company where you work for matching funds. 4. Have a special Mission Sunday, with CHM as the recipient. 5. Put together a boutique at Christmas time, all profits going to CHM. 6. Ask everyone you know to get a Community Partners card from Albertsons and designate CHM for the funds. 7. Hold a "Rock A thon." Basically, just use your imagination and have both fun and funds.

Thank you CHM for allowing me to be a part of your organization. May God continue to bless your ministry.



Cedar, Summer 2002

Time, where did it go!

by Paul Russell


Paul Russell, a CHM Volunteer & Chaplain, writes about his ministry at Almaden Care and Rehabilitation in San Jose and Los Gatos Oaks in Los Gatos


How time flies! It was but a few years ago I was steered to CHM as I was finishing up my chaplainís internship training with the International Association of Industrial Chaplains (IAIC). At that time I was assigned to glean from two wonderful ladies, Ida Strickland and Elsie Selbo, who both had been running a very effective Bible study and visitation program for a number of years at Almaden Care and Rehabilitation in San Jose and Los Gatos Oaks in Los Gatos. The activities appear very simple, but behind the grace of these giving ladies is the caring and love of the Lord and the ability to pass this warmth on to the many older residents -past homemakers and professional men and women. Idaís fresh homemade cookies, her beautiful singing and music; and Elsieís wooden cross on the meeting table and her draw as she invites people to come and share a good time of fellowship. The way the Bible study is given in a flowing story with stops along the road for insight by Ida and Elsie and the residents brings the joy of being together and the music and singing along the same theme brings back, I think, memories of a day in the past, of youth, when a close walk with the Lord, and is near again; and for others of a treasure lost but now found.

Time goes by fast!! I now volunteer my time at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center with the Chaplain Service visiting patients who have a concern for prayer for themselves, family, or friends who are going through difficult times. Often the concern is for needs in their life, and healing, that only God can give. Their hospital stay has given them time, in a hurried world, to think and realize what is lasting.

Time. Time, where did it go!!! Where am I at. Time and life go by so fast. The two CHM ladies hooked me, and itís still a joy being part of their Bible study almost every Thursday, handing out song books and taking turns leading the study, and finding new friends.

Time, donít let it slip by! Find a spot. Be bold. Step out!!! Celebrate, worship, study with the many who have FEW friends Ė join in a CHM team! You will like it!



Cedar, Fall 2002

Annual Report 2001

by Ariosto Coelho


Ariosto Coelho, Ph.D., CHM Executive Director, expresses his gratitude to all for all services and happenings in 2001


In this report I want to thank a group of dedicated volunteers who in 2001 spent 20,150 hours providing friendship and soulful connection to 1,060 elderly residents in 21 convalescent homes throughout the Santa Clara Valley. CHM is proud of these volunteers!

CHM is also proud of the programs and services it offers to its volunteers and the elderly residents: Care of the Soul - Support Group and Training Program, Breakfast and Training Program, Elder Friendship 2002 - Certification Program, Chaplaincy Program, Worship Programs, Transition Program, One-to-one Services and Team Events.

Convalescent Hospital Ministry owes much to the abiding support of its Partners and the generosity of its Donors. Let me express my gratitude with A BIG THANK YOU!



Cedar, Fall 2001

Precious People

by Marylin Millard


Marilyn Millard, a volunteer from The First Presbyterian Church of Milpitas, writes about Alzheimerís patients and other residents


  I volunteer about two hours with Alzheimerís patients. Hereís a list of some of the activities we do together: Blowing bubbles: each resident reacts differently. I watch them with great interest! Hitting a balloon: they love the sensory feeling and bright colors. I soar with them and am amazed at their enthusiasm! Playing with Soft Ball: Some hit it, others attempt to catch it, while still others hold tight to it. In fact, one of them hid it in his pants and I didnít ask for it. I am amused with their innocence! Puzzles: a few can put together a big puzzle with some help. Most are unable to complete it. They are most proud when they can rightly place one piece. Itís a milestone and Iím proud of them!

A big part of working with these residents is understanding their needs and personalities. I need to express my love openly. I hug them, warmly rub their backs, put lotion on their hands and create a feeling of warmth. They respond with smiles, thanks, snuggling and some laughter. Itís a precious feeling to see their individual responses. They respond with deep and unwavering love.

I love to converse with these patients and others along the way. They are surely an example of faith, hope, courage, forgiveness and love. If only I could bring them out into the world and say, "Look at these precious people. They are sufferers but the most courageous people in the world." Then, I would bow down to all of them.



Cedar, Summer 2001

CHM Awards and Certificates


The following volunteers were recognized during a CHM ceremony at Holy Spirit Episcopal Church in Campbell on February 24, 2001



Al Jacobson

 Alma Seregi

 Arlet Nicoletti

 Art Walton

 Betty Sprain

 Betty Jones

 Betty Jensen

 Beverly Mayr

 Bob Drews

 Carmen McBride

 Carol Shortt

 Carolyn Stinson

 Carrie Hawley

 Cathy Valerga

 Clint Berg

 Dale Weishaupt

 Dan Shortt

 Dave Self

 Don Reiner

 Donna Zimmerman

 Donna Enea

 Doris Harry

 Doris Gaiser

 Doris Herschbach

 Earl Clark

 Eleanor Blondino

 Elsie Selbo

 Emily Holley

 Eva Duffy

 Faith King

 Fern Moore

 George White

 George Westly

 Gillian Colloff

 Grace Healy

 Helen Berg

 Hettie Lou Downing

 Homer Fletcher

 Ian Colloff

 Ida Strickland

 Ida Tuplin

 Jackie Fletcher

 James Henning

 Janet Strudwick

 Jim Harris

 Joyce Mullendore

 Judy Ives

 Ken Snyder

 Kyle Burch

 L.L. "Buz" Jones



 Larry Wolf

 Libby Pedersen

 Linda Bates

 Lois Ecklund

 Loris Reiner

 Lorraine Zeller

 Maria Payne

 Marian Noble

 Marilyn Millard

 Marjean Ritari

 Mary Fox

 Mary Alexander

 Melody Merckens

 Mercedes Snyder

 Merle Pierce

 Meta Ruth Hodson

 Miriam Eads

 Muriel Coffey

 Norman Martin

 Pat Walton

 Pat Wolf

 Patty J. Bergantz

 Paul Kirchoff

 Paul Russell

 Paul Cocking

 Phyllis Martin

 Ray Pole

 Ron Lyons

 Ross J. Bergantz

 Ruth Peters

 Ruth Clark

 Samantha Faust

 Sonja Torgerson

 Steven Lazenby

 Susan Clark

 Susanna Desmarais

 Taryn Holley

 Ted Sielaff

 Terry Sullivan

 Thais Craine

 Tom Howell


-Mary Parker-Eves

-Meg Self

-Marie Henry

(Founding Member)

-Paul Strudwick

  -John A. Palmer



Cedar, Fall 2000

A Nudge from God

by Ruth Peters


RUTH PETERS, a volunteer from Cambrian Park United Methodist Church, writes how God nudged her on to ministry with the elderly


Three years ago if someone had told me I would be conducting church services at a nursing home I would have said, "No way! I couldnít do that." Yet I have just completed two and a half years of doing that very thing with the help of the Pastor from my church.

It started almost three years ago when I started attending some classes taught by Pastor Bill Johnson of the Cambrian Park United Methodist Church. They were titled E.P.C. (Experiencing Practical Christianity). One of the assignments of the class was to visit a hospital, a place where food was served to the homeless, a jail or some other type of institution. I decided to visit the Almaden Care Center nursing home. At that time Joni Tanaka was director of activities at the center so I made arrangements with her for my visit.

Joni showed me around the facility, explained her work and I observed and assisted her with one of her activities. As I was about to leave I turned to Joni and, for no apparent reason (except God was giving me a nudge but I didnít know it), I asked, "Joni, is there something you wish you had that you donít have?" Her immediate answer was, "Yes, I would like to have a Sunday church service for the Protestants who are here. We have a Catholic mid-week service but nothing for the Protestants. I called several churches to see if they were interested. I received no offers from them so I gave up." I went away thinking, Joni, no, you canít give up!

When we reported on our visits at the next class and I expressed my concern, Pastor Bill asked, "What do you want to do about it, Ruth?" I said that I really wanted to see them have a service at the nursing home so he said, "If youíll lead the service Iíll help you get one started." On January 4, 1998 the Cambrian Park United Methodist Church held its first monthly church service at the Almaden Care Center. Pastor Bill Johnson did most of the service. The following month I conducted the service on my own. As I said, Iíve been doing it for two and a half years with Pastor Bill leading the service when Iím not able to. I have had support from church members and from Kirk Fuschak who has played the piano and leads the singing.

In June at our church we have formed a covenant group based on this nursing home ministry. Four women have volunteered to assist in planning and leading the service. A lot can be accomplished when one responds to a nudge from God.


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 "whatsoever you did to the least of my brothers and sisters, you did that to me". And I remembered the long lines of beggars who flocked to our house. Not one of them did ever go away empty handed. Most of these paupers either imparted a benediction to us, eager children, or whispered a "Dev borem korum" in Konkani, as they dragged their feet in search of another compassionate benefactor. I also recalled the countless donations made by dad to many religious organizations, in favor of the disadvantaged and marginalized, elderly, sick and dying, unwed mothers, abandoned children and orphaned youngsters, and the numerous burses and scholarships offered for promoting vocations to the priesthood and to the religious life. In short, I remembered his great concern for all the concerns of the One, Holy, Roman, pre-Vatican, Catholic Church. Above everything else, I remembered his greatest concern, his wife and his family. All at once I found myself out of the underground stream, and now I heard the woman asking me questions: "Are you not his priest-son? Where were you all this while?"



Amidst tears of loss and sorrow mummy hugged me tight with these words in Portuguese: "Ariosto, aai! aai! Meu filho, Pai jŗ foi embora, aai! aai!" While I shared in her sorrow and in our common loss, I reassured her and every one at home that dad was in Abraham's bosom enjoying the delights described by St. Paul as indescribable.


That evening our hearts were burning, as everyone vied with one another to describe to me their experience of dad's last minutes, before he was peacefully called to heaven; and later as he was pompously laid to rest for the last time, in the house that he had built thirty three years ago. Finally, as they described to me dad's last ceremonial journey from the house to the church, I could hear the wheels of the hearse move to the slow rhythm of the many sobbing sighs. I could also visualize the twenty two concelebrating priests, the many male and female religious, and the motley gathering of relatives, neighbours and other faithful that were present to bid this staunch son of the Navelim Church adieu. Finally I could see him being lowered gradually into the ancestral, resting place, and breathe the sweet fragrance of that wreathe with as many white ribbons as his children, that was gently placed by the side of the golden cross on his tomb.


My most unexpected and sudden visit home coincided with the thirtieth day Mass, scheduled for December 5, at 5 pm. All that I could share during this Eucharistic Con-celebration, were the showers of blessings that daddy had generously bestowed on me by bringing me miraculously home, all the way from Rome.




with  Impermanence  :

The Rhythm of the Universe




Graceful Grateful Peaceful Playful laughter



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