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This year,  in answer to His Eminence, Oswald Cardinal Gracias' call for Catholic Youth to step up and serve their country, Vijay Diwas - December 16 - was observed with a difference! Vijay Diwas has been celebrated for 46 years now, and commemorates India's victory in the 1971 war with Pakistan. Over 400 students from the Archdiocesan schools in Mumbai and Vasai were invited to attend an event, organised by Take Charge in collaboration with the Archdiocesan Board of Education, at Dr. Antonio da Silva High School, Dadar where they would hear first hand testimonies of service in the Armed Forces and be motivated to sign up. Take Charge is an initiative focused on increasing the role of the Catholic community in the development and progress of our great nation, by encouraging students and youths to choose career options with the Civil Services and Armed Forces.

The evening was graced by His Eminence, Oswald Cardinal Gracias, and it was a privilege to have as the Chief Guest,  a hero of the 1971 war:  Maj Gen Ian Cardozo, AVSM and Sena Medal winner, who shared his experiences with the students.The event commenced with the singing of the National Anthem and, after an inspiring introduction by Roger Pereira, the Convener of the Take Charge initiatives,  it was the turn of the representatives of the Armed Forces - Maj Gen Christopher Fernandes, Air Vice Marshal Michael Fernandez, and Commodore Mathew from the Army, Air Force, and Navy respectively -  to provide the motivational impetus and inspire the students to consider this option to serve the nation.   Each of the speakers captured the audience to such an extent that the students thronged them later, for selfies and autographs! 

In the words of His Eminence, “The Catholic community must be in the forefront of participation in the development of our great country” and, with his blessings and support, it is our hope and endeavour that in a few years from now we will have an increased participation by our youth in key areas of nation building. 

A special note of thanks to the St Josephs Trust, Dr Antonio da Silva Trust, and all those who contributed, for their support and assistance towards the success of this event.

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