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Thursday, 16 June 2011 12:59

Savio Salesian College in Observer Ethical Awards

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Savio Salesian College in Bootle was included in this years Observer Ethical Awards! The year 8 and year 9 Duke of Edinburgh Award group made a hybrid bird and bat box.

Read about it here, and see students and staff from Savio in a video about the bird/bat box on the Guardian website here.

guardian-awards

Thursday, 02 June 2011 12:59

One Family in the Eyes - Salesian Student Charter

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Organised by Fr James Gallagher SDB and Mr Kevin Regan, the 7th Annual Salesian Student Leadership Gathering took place at Savio House in March 2011.

The continued success of these events was evident in the presence of fifty three students accompanied by their teachers. This was the largest gathering to date.

As always the students met to share their ideas from across the six Salesian schools of the GBR province (five SDB and one FMA). This year’s priority was the revised charter which the students designed collaboratively in October 2010.

The Charter will now be used across all the Salesian schools as a statement of our young people’s vision. The charter includes the badge of Saint John Bosco College, signifying that the Salesian spirit will continue and flourish in the new school.

The text reads (from top left clockwise):

One Family in the Eyes of John Bosco

  • We respect the members of the Salesian community all over the world.
  • We will support each other in making difficult decisions and cooperate in a way that is caring and loving.
  • We are schools with passion, progress, prospects and politeness.
  • We will make School a playground: a place of respect and joy.
  • We believe that all cultures and races should work together as one Salesian community.
  • We respect and appreciate God’s creation.
  • We will appreciate everyone and listen to their ideas.
  • Treat others the way you would like to be treated.

bova-article2One of the activities we do with BOVA volunteers during their training involves asking them to quickly jot down 5 words or phrases which “represent Africa to them” (and I’m using Africa here just as an example). Average responses include lions, elephants, vast skies, starvation, war, street children and so on.  We then read the essay ‘How to write about Africa’ by Binyavanga Wainaina, a Kenyan author. This is a powerful satire about the way Africa is represented in developed countries – all about negatives images of people and romantic images of land and animals (available here).

A similar exercise is to ask people what they think of the following: “They eat a food made from the seeds of a type of grass, cooked once and then burned, which is smeared with a product from an animal. They eat this with the albumen from a bird. Traditionally this is only eaten at certain times of the day” What shocks/disgusts them is simply a description of scrambled eggs on toast!

The point is to challenge their perceptions. Yes, Africa has poverty, war, starvation and so on. But it also has people going about everyday life. Children play games! There are universities! Lawyers and doctors! I’m sure you get the point. Developing countries are not completely without capacity – and in the end they must develop themselves. Support is required from external sources (development aid for example), but what comes first is a need for rich countries to stop abusing them. The image I use is that we give a certain amount while taking far more – thus the first stage required is justice not charity.

This is a difficult balance to maintain when working with young people. The images of poverty, shocking statistics and so on are powerful motivators – which is why they are the images we are so familiar with from TV appeals, leaflets and so on. However, if we are not careful there is a risk of providing young people with a limited picture of developing countries. A young person at a youth club once suggested to me that we just need to set up a number of supermarkets across Africa and everything would be fine – he had no concept of Africa being lots of countries with cities and shops etc. Freire noted the importance of the voice of the oppressed (“histories of oppression and suffering must be recounted… Memories of hope, too, must be offered… These should include the voices of the oppressed and respect for their integrity and subjugated knowledge”; from ‘Paulo Freire: A Critical Encounter’, edited by McLaren and da Silva 1993, p77). We must try to find ways to respect the humanity and dignity of people in developing countries by presenting a more complete picture and where possible using their own words and images.

So…

Try to make use of images and words from the countries under discussion

Avoid using only negative images (e.g. all starving children); include pictures or videos of ‘normal’ activities which your young people can relate to

Talk about justice not charitybova-article21

Be aware of the message you put across and beware of too much oversimplification

Resources created by BOVA returned volunteers can help you give your young people a more complex message about poverty.

Life in Pasil is a collection of short stories and poems written by the young people of a slum in the Philippines. It shows both their struggle with poverty and their love of their community.

‘Life Stories’ by Trainees of the Don Bosco Training Center, Pasil. “Its aim is not to evoke pity but to give a small insight into the life of the trainees here in Pasil. The trainees were asked to write a few words about their family background, about their coming to the Don Bosco Training Center, and their hopes for the future. You can now read their stories in their own words.” Savio Bhavan, Don Bosco Tumkur is a film showing a day in a life of the ex-child labourers in a Salesian home in India – again it makes clear both joy and struggles.

Sunday, 15 May 2011 12:59

YAT Vocations Report

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vocations-coverToday is Vocation Sunday in the Catholic Church. To coincide with this, we publish the Youth Advisory Team (YAT) Salesian Vocation report.

Late last year we were asked by the Provincial to try to investigate why young people aren’t entering into Religious life.  The YAT conducted an anonymous survey to explore people’s experiences and attitudes to vocation, and their suggestions for ways in which Salesian vocations could increase.

The report sums up the findings of the survey and suggestions of what action could be taken by the Province to improve the number of people entering into vocations, alongside and as a complement to what the Province is already doing.

We found there were many reasons why a person might feel apprehensive about embracing religious life, many of which were misconceptions of what entering into Religious life as a Salesian would actually mean in a day-to-day sense.

The report was presented to the Provincial, his council and the Vocations team and was very well received.

The report can be found here.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011 12:59

Easter Triduum at Brettargh Holt

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During Holy Week, Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday, around 35 young adults took part in an Easter Triduum retreat at Brettargh Holt, a retreat house, run by lay volunteers and staff and home to the Salesian sisters.

Participants arrived in time for a Passover meal in the evening, remembering the Jewish meal celebrated my Jesus and his disciples. We then continued our evening by celebrating mass, including the symbolic washing of feet. Our evening ended with a procession from the house to the chapel of repose to watch and pray with the Lord.

We started Good Friday in prayer together, and then began our preparations for the service later that afternoon. In groups we each looked at a section of the service including the liturgy of the word, the passion, veneration of the cross and one group was responsible for the stripping of the chapel. During this time each young adult was given the opportunity of receiving the sacrament of reconciliation. At 3pm we gathered together in chapel to remember the death of our Lord. The service included a dramatization of the passion, set to current chart music, a very powerfully relevant and moving experience. After the service participants took some time to personal reflection.

The group met again in the evening to walk the way of the cross, reflecting at each of the stations which were situated on a prayer hill within the grounds.

On Holy Saturday our focus was on the preparation for the Easter vigil due to take place that evening. There are nine readings included in the Vigil celebration and each group took away one or two of these to prepare in some way. As well as the readings, there was the music, the creating of the paschal candle and water service to plan. After a busy day of preparation we came together at dusk around a roaring fire to begin our celebration of the risen Christ. The readings were presented in various creative ways, including dance, drama, and music. The group presenting the parting of the red sea took the musical Stomp as inspiration, using household objects such as brushes and pans to create a rhythmic interpretation of the scripture. After the blessing of the paschal candle and an alleluia medley (17 Alleluia's!!) the Easter celebrations were in full swing. Celebrations continued after the vigil with a party into the night!

Easter Sunday morning began with an Easter egg hunt followed by mass and the retreat drew to a close over a full cooked breakfast, which was well received by all!

The whole Triduum experience was both moving and thought provoking, and also a great opportunity to spend time with friends old and new. It was great to celebrate Easter as a young catholic community.

 

Saturday, 07 May 2011 12:59

Phoenix Days Training Weekend

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phoenixjpgWith the second Phoenix Days camp, 3 months away, we had our first meeting to get to know who we would be working with and what activities we would be doing in the summer.

Phoenix days is a holiday (We were explicitly told not to call it a retreat) for young people who wouldn’t normally get the chance to go on holiday or for people that could benefit from having a holiday with other young people.

After arriving on Friday Evening for social time, the main body of the weekend began on Saturday morning with Icebreakers and team building. This initially began with having to create a game that was based around an object such as hands and a pear. We then moved onto a game where we were given a letter and we had to create the longest word that began with the provided letter. Afterwards we had lunch and then our next activity, which was a survival game. In the survival game each of us were given a specific role and had a specific item. There was a defender of the group who had to carry a bat, 2 medics, 1 of which had to carry a chair, a keeper of wealth who carried money, a giver of light who carried a candle, a spiritual member, a giver of life who carried two boxes of wine, an injured person who had their legs tied together and a blind person who was blindfolded. We were then told to get from one place to the other, where along the way there would be several problems. After encountering many pedestrians and pretending that they could attack us at any second causing us to hide behind twigs and leaves, we made it to our destination. We then had dinner together and the rest of the evening was spent socialising and deciding what we would do over the Phoenix weeks.pheonix1-300x225

On Sunday we discussed ideas of fundraising and what activities people would be able to do. We then had mass with the Savio House community which involved the reading of the passion, a little procession around the grounds and some flag-waving.

2010-11 marked the first year of the Church School Awards. Schools with a religious character in England and Wales were invited to submit an application stating ways in which they contributed to the wider community, locally, nationally and internationally, together with an account of the work of the RE Department.

Over 300 schools submitted applications and Salesian School Chertsey was judged to be in the top 15 schools, one of two schools in the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. Four representatives from Salesian received the award from Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools, Lord Hill CBE, at a Gala Event on the afternoon of Thursday 24th March 2011. The event was held at Westminster Cathedral Hall, London, hosted by Blue Peter’s Andy Akinwolere.

Mr Lydon and Fr Ebrahim were accompanied by Megan O’Neill of Year 13 and Andrew Tobin of Year 8. The Church School Awards celebrate the best examples of local community work and global citizenship in England and Wales. Pupils, staff and parents from the national and regional winners all impressed the judges with their passion for community issues, like the environment, Fairtrade and local fundraising, as well as their active involvement in worldwide initiatives, encouraging respect for different cultures and a sense of justice. Salesian School demonstrates a passion across all these areas, exemplified for example by the Ashalayam Project, the support for the Princess Alice Hospice from students in Year 10 and the recent launch of Fairtrade in the school. Schools Minister Lord Hill said:

“I am delighted to congratulate the regional and national winners of the first ever Church Awards on their superb work. These schools have demonstrated their commitment to respecting and supporting other young people around the world as well as in their own local community.”

Monday, 18 April 2011 12:59

Thornleigh Student Council

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thornleigh-at-savioLast Friday, a group of 8 representatives from the Thornleigh Student Council went to Savio House in Bollington for a leadership weekend. Present at the event were representatives from the six Salesian schools in England.

Students were able to share good practise and learn from the experience of students in the other schools as well as making new friends.

During the weekend students reflected on the strengths of their student council and any problems that had been encountered and how they had been dealt with.

They were introduced to the Salesian School Charter and were involved in role playing an interview scenario.

As a newly established School Council, the students from Thornleigh represented the School exceptionally well. They came back with a renewed purpose, ideas for the future and a lot of new friends from the Salesian community.

Thursday, 31 March 2011 12:59

Fresh Ideas for Savio House

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savio2It has been an exciting year at Savio so far.  With a completely new team (except for Fr Bernard and Fr Graham) the want and need for development has really taken off.  Since September members of the team have been coming up with new retreat ideas and ways to develop existing retreats to bring them up to date and accommodate young people in the best way possible. The chance for our creativeness as a team to show was given when Battersea were about to arrive.  It was decided that we were going to create a new retreat specifically designed with Battersea in mind, looking at the needs of what forty 15 year old lads would want to do.  With an initial concept given to us by Fr Bernard and Jess ‘Our Home’ was ready to be developed.

Our Home is a more outdoor retreat with emphasis on three different scales, local, nationally and globally and how we can have an impact on each of these scales.  Activities ranged from looking at nature and the importance of the environment to how we can help rebuild a community after devastation.  A highlight of the retreat was the new reconciliation service to which we took the group outside.  The whole service was enjoyed and respected by all and the use of the outdoors really fitted well into the theme.   Another activity that provoked a lot of thought and emotion was the community game.  Each small group had to build their own community using recyclable materials they all put so much time and care into them that we ended up with three amazing structural pieces of art.  However when all the groups came back together the next part of the game was to get someone from another group to destroy a community and then for the small group to rebuild it the best they could, it was heart-breaking to watch (I personally did not like it at all!) but it proved to be a very thought provoking activity with a lot of great group conversations came out of it.savio3

After Our Home had gone well the team were full of ideas for new retreats, there were three new concepts aired; Masks, Hide and Seek (with God) and Sheep.  Development on these ideas began straight after the team conference in January.  Sheep was finished first and has since been rolled out and used a number of times with year 7 and 8.  The theme of sheep concentrates on building friendships and how we can be a good shepherd to each other.  It follows a similar pattern to other retreats with a few things shifted and new ideas inserted.  Taking on board the success of the outdoor reconciliation in Our World, and as it fitted in with the theme of sheep, the reconciliation service gives the young people a chance to get around Savio’s grounds with stop off points highlighting different areas of their conscience. Sheep also gave way for the introduction of the newest member of team, Mervin the memory sheep (or ZEUS if you’re Helen or Alex!). Mervin allows the young people on retreat to store their favourite memory of the day in a safe place and as he is accessible throughout the day the young people can write down their memories as they happen.  Sheep has gone really well and has received great feedback from staff.

Masks and Hide and Seek (with God) are still under construction but development on them is a continuous and we hope to have them up and trialled soon.

savio4

march11Fr Martin Poulsom SDB and James Trewby were part of the Salesian group who attended the Oscar Romero Memorial service and lecture and then the March for the Alternative.

Rather than write a traditional article they thought they’d do something slightly different…

Martin says (M): Hello, I’m here! Now I know what you mean when you said it would probably take a few minutes to set up!

James says (J): Not bad though – for a priest!

M: I do magic tricks, too!

J:But can you whistle?

M: Good one – shall we start talking about what we’re meant to be talking about, or shall we just have a daft conversation?

J: Excellent. I think when we agreed to do this, one of our main motivations was to ensure the good news (the Gospel?) of the day gets out, not just negative stories

M: Yes, I think it’s really important that a sense of the Gospel be transmitted by what goes on in all that we do. After all, the reason I went to both events was out of solidarity – and by that, I mean solidarity as a Gospel value, as a value of Catholic Social Teaching. That’s partly why I chose to walk to the Romero service and to walk back from the Rally in Hyde Park.

J: You walked from home?

M: I know that many of the people that we were in solidarity with, in El Salvador, in Guatemala, don’t have access to other forms of transport. That’s why, in part, I decided to walk throughout the day yesterday. That way, the whole day became a March for the Alternative.

J: Wonderful!

M: Of course, I also knew that the bus from Clapham Junction to Charing Cross wouldn’t be running much beyond Tate Britain, so there was a good dose of (Salesian?) pragmatism there, too. But it was a LiveSimply commitment, too, an act of solidarity with all those who march for justice, peace and another way of living who don’t have the option of hopping on a bus of they want to.

J: I loved the time before the lecture, milling around with Christians (nice that it wasn’t just Catholics – our old friends from the Student Christian Movement were there, for example) who care about putting their faith into practice.We were welcomed into St Martin in the Fields as “a church of prayer and protest”. What do you think of seeing those words together?

M: Yes, it was good to be there with other Christians. I agree – that makes the solidarity we were trying to enact a more obviously Gospel value, I think. It embeds Catholic Social Teaching in a deeper (dare I say?!) and wider tradition, demonstrating its roots and inspiration more clearly in Gospel values.

J: And singing with them! That was so powerful! Letting loose about justice and peace to the tune of Danny Boy!

We shall go out (words, June Boyce-Tillman; tune, Londonderry Air)

1. We shall go out with hope of resurrection,

we shall go out, from strength to strength go on;

we shall go out and tell our stories boldly,

tales of a love that will not let us go.

We’ll sing our songs of wrongs that can be righted,

we’ll dream our dreams of hurts that can be healed;

we’ll weave a cloth of all the world united,

empowered by Christ, whose Spirit sets us free.

2. We’ll give a voice to those who have not spoken,

we’ll find the words for those whose lips are sealed,

we’ll make the tunes for those who sing no longer,

call vibrant love to life in every heart.

We’ll share our joy with those around us weeping,

sing songs of strength to hearts that break in grief,

we’ll leap and dance the resurrection story,

including all within the circle of our love.

march2

M: Your comment on the church is interesting, too. I personally think that the church has to be a church of prayer and protest. It’s a bit like that reflection on action and reflection, in a way. Prayer without protest can all too easily become a form of accommodation to injustice. That’s one of the things that the witness of Oscar Romero makes clear to me, I think.

And, on the other hand, protest without prayer all too easily becomes protest for its own sake. That’s the criticism I would make of the so-called ‘direct action’ that we saw in Oxford Street and Piccadilly yesterday – Christians are called to protest on behalf of the kingdom. And it’s God’s kingdom that the protest is on behalf of.

J: Yes indeed

Freire said that we must not fall into the trap of only denouncing we must also announce a better way – and that means Kingdom values

M: One of the things that stays with me from the rally, too, was when one of the Union leaders who spoke said that what we were doing was standing up for values that we hold dear, for a truth that we believe in. He said that, if it had been a Labour Government that was bringing in these cuts, we would still be here, we would still be marching, we should still be saying No.

From a Gospel standpoint, that’s really important. It’s not a party-political act – it’s an act of political involvement that goes beyond party-politics. That’s why Romero opposed the Marxists who put themselves forward as champions of the people. Not because of the liberation they sought to achieve, but because of the ideology that lay behind it, and, as a result, the actions they did.

J: What does this mean to us as Salesians?

M: Don Bosco refused to get involved in party politics, and it says in our constitutions that SDBs don’t get involved in party politics. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t act politically. That would be a church of prayer without protest.

J: Coming to the radicals, I do think there is a place for the radical within these demonstrations. A bit from my research:

“The more radical forms are by far the most publicised, perhaps because they are deemed ‘newsworthy’ and necessitate dramatic language. One argument in their favour is ‘radical flank effect’. This suggests that they alter the definitions of middle and extreme, in this case in a manner beneficial to the movement; “Given a choice between negotiating with reformist NGO advocates or radical activists in the streets, officials will always prefer to work with the former” (Tarrow, 2005, p. 56). However, there may be risk in these dramatic forms garnering most attention and of treating engagement as an action rather than something ongoing; there is clearly great value in a long term commitment to a particular issue or cause (McDonald, 2006, p. 84).”

M: Well, there is a difference, I think, between a pragmatic assessment of the tactics of protest and negotiation and the question of value.

J: ok…

M: Yes, it is true, I agree with you, that fire-extinguisher throwing, or ammonia-bombing police officers, does help the protest of the tens or hundreds of thousands move toward the middle ground.

J: Yes, there is clearly a huge difference between different forms of “direct action”.

M: But, there is an important difference, I think, between a pragmatic assessment of what, in fact, happens and a value statement, especially where you’re proposing Gospel values.

J: And I think one of the dangers coming from the media of the over-simplification of treating all forms as the same. Some I think fit very well with Gospel values like Romero, Dorothy Day and… Jesus!

M: Yes, absolutely – and how to respond when the media over-simplifies and marginalises the majority of protesters is something that has faced the student protesters in a particularly poignant way over recent months.

J: Matt reminded me the other day about Walter Wink’s stuff about Jesus’ non-violent direct actions – see for example here http://www.cres.org/star/_wink.htm

Jesus as subversive!

M: I agree with you that there is all the difference in the world (and certainly all the difference in the Gospel) between non-violent direct action and the kind of ‘direct action’ that we see all too often on the fringes of legitimate protest. The politics of the kingdom is dangerous and subversive, but the reason it is these is that it exposes vested interests to the light of the Gospel.

J: Indeed

M: And that’s always a threat to those who put power before people.

J: But we must be careful not to get drawn into too much discussion of the “illegal bits” of the day. I didn’t see anything illegal at all – it was a very pleasant (if challenging) pray and then a lovely walk with so many friends, including our partners in the LiveSimply networks, the National Justice and Peace Network, Pax Christi, returned BOVA volunteers, JVC, CAFOD, YCW and others.

M: That’s Christian witness, I think – to stand up and be seen defending the poor and vulnerable, to walk in solidarity with them and to do that even when it’s difficult, when there are challenges from those who accuse you of being utopian and unrealistic.

J: Agreed

So can I take you back to the earlier question?

M: Which one?

J: One thing I was struck by in the lecture was the number of references to being prophetic. Don Juan said “Every baptised person has received a share of the prophetic ministry of Jesus”. He challenged us to have prophetic courage. What do you think that means to us a Salesians?

M: Oh, sorry, I thought I’d said at least one thing about that when I reflected on party politics.

J: You did! I just want more! For me this is about the intersection of ‘educator’ and ‘prophetic’

M: Tell me more about that – what do you mean?

J: So many times in my life I’ve wrestled with “Should I be breaking the law to challenge injustice?”

And what I come back to, is what I see as my vocation as a Salesian educator. To be true to my calling means attempting to do good justice education, helping people discover injustices, see the links to their own lives and then act upon them.

M: Well, what about the final reflection that Don Juan shared with us from Romero – one of the most moving bits of the film of his life, for me. On the eve of his martyrdom, Romero said to the soldiers of the country that nobody is bound by obedience enact an unjust order. Conscience is a higher authority in those situations – there is an important role to play in challenging injustice by disobedience, like the suffragettes did. (Their witness was celebrated quite a bit at the rally in Hyde Park.) But, as we’ve been saying, the way that you challenge these unjust structures has to be non-violent, has to be in accordance with the values of the kingdom.

J: So what do you think of the call to be prophetic educators?

M: Well, I think I would link it with the ‘values of the kingdom’ thread. It seems to me that learning about the values of the kingdom has to be linked with prophetic action on behalf of them. One way to speak of that is to link education and evangelisation, in a Salesian way. Another is to speak of a church of prayer and protest, like they did at St Martin in the Fields.

 

Thursday, 24 March 2011 11:59

Salesians and Romero

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Oscar-Romero-an-inspirational-witness1Today marks the thirty first anniversary of the martyrdom of Oscar Romero, the archbishop of El Salvador. He was shot dead while saying Mass for speaking out on behalf of the poor and oppressed against a brutal regime.

Throughout this week the annual Romero lectures are being held across the country, and on Saturday the 26th a Salesian group will attending the ecumenical service and the Romero lecture at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, in London and then the March for the Alternative. Now seems a good time to reread James Trewby’s article about his visit to El Salvador to organise BOVA placements.

El Salvador, through laughter and tears

I was fortunate enough to spend Christmas a couple years ago in El Salvador. For just over two weeks I explored this beautiful country, visiting a British friend who teaches in an international school, learning a little about the history, visiting sites connected to the life of the martyred Archbishop, Oscar Romero, having a holiday and arranging a possible volunteer placement.

It was a time filled with great contrasts. My friend’s school caters for the elite – I played basketball with children who had their own personal drivers – while poverty can be found only minutes away in the slum areas. This disparity between rich and poor, and particularly that of land ownership, was one of the many causes behind the civil war which finished in the early 1990s (without truly resolving the differences between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’). The Government’s heavy handed attempts to prevent the poor from organising and protesting resulted in a guerrilla struggle and violence from both sides.

Our trip to the village of El Mozote was full of contrasting emotions. During the war, Government forces massacred over 800 innocent people here, including all the children, in a calculated attempt to stop other villages from supporting the guerrillas. We visited a monument and garden created in memory of them. My friend and I were shown around by an ex-guerrilla, his young daughter and a lady who was politically more right wing. In stark contrast to the sadness and horror of the day, we spent the car journey back to the city singing; all four adults belting out Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ while the little girl made growling noises in all the gaps!

 

Before the war, a number of priests and sisters were involved in supporting the peasants’ attempts to organise. This led to propaganda and eventually violence being used against them. Most famous among the martyrs is Oscar Romero,

who spoke out against wrongdoing from both sides of the political spectrum and was eventually killed while saying mass. As part of my stay I visited various memorials to him, including his tomb. During his life he bravely questioned injustice, even within the Church. I find the following words from a sermon he gave in 1977 especially challenging, due to their relevance to my work with the Salesians promoting campaigns for social justice: “A religion of Sunday Mass but unjust weeks does not please the Lord”.Fr-Mario-Aldana-SDB-Rector-of-Ciudad-de-los-Ninos-note-Shakira-and-Santa-Anna-posters-in-background

The Salesian project I visited was called ‘Ciudad de los Ninos’ (City of children) and will make an excellent host community for British volunteers wishing to live and work alongside the Salesians in their work for the young and the poor. It includes a school and vocational training centre (mechanics, carpentry, electrics, tailoring, soldering etc) as well as various sports and music clubs. These are used by around 200 young people residentially and a further 500 day students, providing a comprehensive centre for children with limited access to education, escaping from gangs in the cities or from poverty. I was amused to see that the priest in charge had a Shakira poster in his office – he assured me it was OK because she was looking at a picture of Santa Anna, the patron of the community!

 

For more infomation on the life of Oscar Romero visit the Romero Trust’s website or download his book ‘The Violence of Love‘ for free thanks to CatholicYouthWork.com, the publishers and CAFOD

mmsymphotoChristine Sterlini and Chris Knowles are currently interning for a new Catholic Charity devoted to hearing the voice of young people. Million Minutes launched on Don Bosco day this year and so far has 385,920 pounds (and minutes of silence) pledged to go into funding projects to help empower young people.

Christine, who has recently returned from volunteering with BOVA in Swaziland said that “it is really exciting being able to be part of such a great new venture”, “I was really keen to do something for young people on returning from Swaziland, and this has been a great opportunity”. Chris who volunteered at Savio House and has been involved in various other Salesian projects said that “Million Minutes is a great idea at a time when the young can easily get forgotten, I would urge anyone interested in helping the young of today to get involved”.

The idea is very simple, people get sponsored to stay silent and aim to get a pound a minute. Some people have committed to stay silent for a whole day. Silence is a great opportunity to experience God, and if we stay silent, we can allow the young’s voices to be herd. The project is funding the Cardinal Hume Centre for homeless young people, the Jimmy Mizen foundation working for justice on the streets, Young Christian Workers to help develop young leaders and Progressio who will help to empower the young overseas. Alongside this Million Minutes hope to offer grants for projects that are in line with their aims.

Christine and Chris are helping out at a crucial time as the charity develops, to get involved see the websites below.

www.millionminutes.org

www.facebook.com/millionminutes

www.twitter.com/million_minutes

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