On a lovely September Friday evening Old Boys of the Salesian Missionary College Shrigley began arriving at Savio House, Bollington to begin a reunion weekend of celebration for Don Bosco's Bi-Centenary. They came from far and wide including Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall, London and various other places in England driving through the usual heavy Friday evening. Some then made their way to the Shrigley Hotel (the former College) whilst the rest who were staying in Savio House enjoyed an hour or two in the Poachers, the local hostelry, catching up on recent news and telling stories of yesteryear, yet again!
After breakfast the Celebration Mass was held in the lovely chapel in Savio House. Fr. Michael Winstanley, himself a Shrigley Old boy, was the main celebrant representing the Province and together with Fr. Robert Coupe, other Salesians from Savio and Thornleigh, including Bro Donald MacDonald and over 30 Shrigley Old Boys, wives and friends, witnessed a truly memorable celebration with the fantastic musical direction of Fr Martin Poulsom, a Salesian of 25 years who was too young to have been a Shrigley boy! He led the musicians (Kevin Dean and Gerry Wright) and Polly Witter (Team leader at Savio) sang the Psalm beautifully. Fr. Michael's homily was built around the "Good Night" given by "Don Bosco" at the Thornleigh Bi-centenary event. The message was clear though for us all to be DON BOSCOS and help him to continue to realise his dream to be there for the young in the years ahead. During the mass we prayed for Shrigley Salesians who had died since the last reunion including Fr. Albert Carette, our former President, Fr. George Robson, always the first to book his place at our events, Fr. Bernard Parkes, a former staff member of Savio House who hosted many of our previous reunions, Fr. Micheal Lindsay and Fr. John Booth who although not a past pupils had taught at Shrigley.
After the mass and a cup of coffee we then went to the local cemetery to visit the grave of Fr. Bernard Parkes and other Salesians buried there over the years. A rose bush was planted in memory of Fr. Bernard by the class of 58' (Gerry Wright, Greg Bell, Keith Dransfield and Bernard O'Neill) and Fr. Robert said a few appropriate words for the occasion leading us in prayer and singing the Salve Regina.
The next stop was Shrigley Hotel where we gathered for a pre lunchtime drink followed by the lunch. In good Salesian style we had a collection to buy some drinks for the evening concert and Bernard O'Neill, the main organiser of the event outlined the programme for the rest of the day thanking those who had contributed to the programme in one way or the other.
There then followed presentations in the Cheshire Suite, better known to most as the former classroom for Lower Elements in days gone by. Paul Barnes presented a power point entitled "This is your Life" of Fr Albert. Fr. Michael then paid a tribute to Fr. George, a fellow Wiganer of Michael's home town and Bernard O'Neill then paid a tribute to Fr. Bernard, as he explained, a blood brother of his resulting from a clash of head and teeth whilst playing the game of 'Rush' September 1958..
Finally in this session Paul spoke briefly about the Salesian Vocation of the Cooperator quoting Don Bosco who had said before the first General Chapter, that "The Salesian Cooperators are the very soul of the Congregation" Paul encouraged all to consider becoming a Salesian Cooperator and a leaflet was distributed outlining more about the role. Paul also spoke briefly about BOVA (Bosco Volunteer Action) which provides an opportunity to do Salesian volunteering abroad. Paul will be returning to a Secondary School in Moshi, Tanzania at the end of September for his 5th visit since June 2012 where he is also fundraising for them to build three Science Laboratories and a Geography Room. We then visited the Salesian Cemetery where Kevin Dean led us in prayer for the occasion and flowers were laid prepared by Marie Burke, on each of the graves.
We returned to Savio House to enjoy a lovely meal prior to the concert which started at 7.45pm. There were 10 items in all compered by Paul Barnes. There was great variety starting with a piano contribution by Kevin Dean of a melody of songs through the decades where we recalled the various Rectors over the years. Ken Greaney shared some of his jokes, Michael McManus played his guitar, Keith Dransfield read humorous poetry, the Savio Volunteers sang a song in three different
languages, Gregg Bell played some singalong favourites and Joe Lomax sang some classical songs accompanied on the piano, Marie Kay who also played some fantastic music on her own. Bernard O'Neill paid a poetic tribute to Fr. Bernard and finally Gerry Wright entertained us for 20 minutes with his rock and roll song repertoire and his guitar Fr. Tony then gave the "Good Night" encouraging us to hold onto our memories and expressed his appreciation for the high standard of entertainment provided.
The lovely weather continued on the Sunday as we gathered for Sunday Mass. Fr. Bob Gardner was the celebrant officiating in his new role as Vice Provincial for the renewal of vows for two Polish Brothers working in the Province, Bro Lukasz Duminski and Bro Janusz Garus. The music for Mass was up to the usual high standard including the singing of Laudato Si, by Polly (one of Fr. Bernard's favourites.) In his homily, Fr. Bob encouraged us all to help the less fortunate than ourselves, especially the young in the true spirit of Don Bosco..
There then followed a three course meal after which thanks was expressed to the chef and volunteers who had looked after us so well.
Before the final good byes, following some consultation, it was unanimously agreed that those present wanted to meet again next year, God willing. The chosen date is to be September 23rd to 25th and it is hoped that the numbers might be at least doubled as we felt the gap of three years since the last one was too long and that it had been such an enjoyable weekend and so memorable in many ways. As you read this and you are interested then please put a note in your planner and respond to the reminders which will be sent out from time to time on our SHRIGLEY OLD BOYS website which Keith Dransfield has agreed to open again.