On the solemn occasion of the memorial of St. Barnabas, the ardent apostle of faith, the community of Divyadaan re-engaged in its pursuit of wisdom with the invocation of the Divine Spirit. The Inaugural Eucharist was presided over by Fr Michael Fernandes, the Salesian Provincial of Mumbai. He was joined by the Capuchin Provincial Fr Michael Fernandes and the various staff members from the campus.
‘Our main aim is human maturity’ were the words of Fr Michael, the Salesian Provincial, at the beginning of the Eucharistic celebration. He went on in his sermon to highlight the role of the Holy Spirit who helps and guides in this process of human maturity. Giving picturesque examples he painted with words the catalytic effect of the Holy Spirit.
The Eucharist was followed by the inaugural function. The event began with an invocation of the Holy Spirit and the lighting of the lamp by the different superiors. Fr Savio Dsouza, the Rector of Divyadaan, welcomed the gathering and motioned about the significance of the New Year as a sign of change.
The student Capuchin friars then sung a choral piece – Glorious God.
Fr Robert Pen, the Principal of Divyadaan, presented to all the Academic Report of the Academic Year 2010-11. He listed the achievements of the institution and the activities conducted during the year. He also enumerated the numerous publications by the professors which contribute to the academic growth of the Institution. After releasing the Handbook for the year 2011-12, Fr Michael Fernandes, the Salesian Provincial drew a parallel between study and prayer. He urged the young academicians to spend time in study as they would spend time in prayer. He wished all to enjoy life by doing things well.
The inaugural lecture for this year was delivered by Rev Fr Felix Fernandes, a residential professor at Divyadaan. The topic of his presentation was ‘The Relation with the Other: The Philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas’. This presentation was an overflow of his reflections on Levinas’ philosophy during his doctoral thesis.
Having given a brief life sketch of Levinas, a philosopher whose thoughts were inspired and tested by his own life experiences, Fr Felix pointed out that for Levinas, the question of ethics was more important than the question of ontology. The heart of his philosophy is service and respect for the other, and recognition of the other as an individual independent of oneself. Levinas strongly championed for self-reflection and an other-centered world where one thinks not of oneself but of the other first; not what the other can do for me but what I can do for the other. This is what he meant by Asymmetrical Relations. Fr Felix remarkably synthesized the thoughts of Levinas in a crispy yet lucid manner giving to the audience only what was needed without losing on the essence of his philosophy. He presented the thoughts of Levinas as a voice of Conscience in a world ruled by totalitarianism. He concluded that the Challenge of the Asymmetrical continues to beckon us.