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Wednesday, 09 December 2015 14:59

YEAR OF MERCY

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One of the central aims of the Jubilee of Mercy will be to reorient the Sacrament of Confession back to the center of the Church's pastoral life, explained one official involved in organizing the year-long event.

“Mercy is the tangible expression of God's love in the world,” said Fr. Geno Sylva, official for the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization (PCPNE).

“By placing ourselves in situations to reflect upon this love and to experience the grace of this love in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, (we find) the strength, the courage, and the compassion to be instruments of mercy to others.”

“I really believe that by recognizing and experiencing how incredibly patient and forgiving God is with each one of us in our imperfections and failings, we can become ever more patient and forgiving of those with whom we live, work, and interact every day,” he told CNA.

The Jubilee of Mercy is an Extraordinary Holy Year that will officially commence December 8 – the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception – with the opening of the Holy Door in St. Peter's Basilica. It will close Nov. 20, 2016 with the Solemnity of Christ the King.

The Pontifical Council is charged with putting Pope Francis' vision for the Year of Mercy into practice – both in the Vatican and abroad.

“The Holy Father wants the Jubilee of Mercy to be an opportunity to place the sacrament of God’s mercy - which is the sacrament of penance and reconciliation - into the central pastoral life for the Church,” Fr. Sylva said.

“We know that, unfortunately, Catholics don’t take advantage of the sacrament as much as they should, and so this is an opportunity for us to remind people of God’s desire to forgive us and that he’s always there to forgive us no matter the sin.”

To help emphasize the role of the Sacrament of Penance during the Jubilee, Pope Francis has called the Church to send out “Missionaries of Mercy” – priests with the faculties to pardon sins in cases otherwise reserved for the Holy See.

These priests, whom the Pope will send out on Ash Wednesday, 2016, will serve as “a visible sign of the importance of the sacrament of reconciliation in our lives of faith,” Fr. Sylva said.

“It is the responsibility of the (Pontifical Council) to select the Missionaries of Mercy,” Fr. Sylva said. He explained that many of those selected have applied to the Council, along with a letter of recommendation from the bishop showing how they “epitomize and embody” a missionary of mercy, as described in Pope Francis' Bull for the Jubilee released earlier this year.

He added that some priests selected as “Missionaries of Mercy” did not apply, but were recommended to the Pontifical Council.

Pope Francis has extended the sacrament of confession's availability to the world in other ways as well. For instance, all priests will automatically have the faculties to remit the penalty of excommunication attached to the sin of abortion, without having to receive permission from their bishops. The Pope has also granted faculties to priests of the Society of Pius X to hear confessions during the Jubilee as a step towards reconciling the traditionalist fraternity with the Holy See.

One of the characteristics of any Jubilee Year is the opening of Holy Door in St. Peter's Basilica, which allows those who pass through to obtain a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions. The official “Holy Doors” are only found in the four major basilicas of Rome. For the Jubilee of Mercy, however, Pope Francis has asked that the tradition of the Holy Door be available at the local level.

“The Holy Father has stressed that this Jubilee is not only to be celebrated in Rome but in all of the particular churches of the world,” Fr. Sylva said.

“This is why he has asked every bishop in the world to choose in his diocese a Holy Door, a Door of Mercy, so that all people may have a chance to make a pilgrimage through a Door of Mercy.”

Pope Francis goes to confession as part of a penitential mass at St Peters Basilica at the Vatican on March 28 2014 Credit ANSA OSSERVATORE ROMANO CNA 3 28 14

Pope Francis goes to confession as part of a penitential mass at St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on March 28, 2014. Credit: ANSA/L'OSSERVATORE ROMANO.

“Each of the Jubilee initiatives is an invitation to bask in what Pope Francis has called the balm of God's mercy,” Fr. Geno said.

The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization is overseeing visits to the Holy Door in St. Peter's Basilica, and encourages pilgrims to register at their website.

“Because there’s going to be so many people that’ll want to get through the Holy Door, we just want to make sure that it’s really prayerful,” Fr. Sylva said. “It’s a spiritual journey of conversion that people are making, and so it’ll be reserved and people will be given enough time.”

In addition to approving “missionaries of mercy” and helping pilgrims cross through the Holy Door of St. Peter's, the Pontifical Council is also tasked with charitable initiatives worldwide.

For instance, Fr. Sylva explained, the Pope has asked the council to establish an agricultural college in Burkina Faso, West Africa, which teaches young people to provide for themselves through agriculture.

“The Holy Father would like us to leave behind, after the Jubilee of Mercy, really concrete signs of God’s mercy, he said.

The Pope first announced the Year of Mercy on March 13, the second anniversary of his pontifical election, during a Lenten penitential liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica.

On April 11, the Holy Father officially proclaimed the Jubilee Year with the release of the Bull of Indiction.

Mercy is a theme that is dear to Pope Francis, and is the central topic of his episcopal motto “miserando atque eligendo,” which he chose when ordained a bishop in 1992.

Text courtesy of Ann Schneible (Catholic News Agency)

Sunday, 29 November 2015 11:12

ADVENT 2015

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photo © Bro Ste Lloyd SDB

As we prepare for the coming of Jesus at Christmas, let us remember all the young people in Great Britain that we, Salesians, have the privilege of serving.

We place them under the patronage of her who bore the Saviour of the World.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015 10:19

VENERABLE MAMMA MARGARET

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"You are now a priest, and you celebrate Mass. You are, therefore, closer to Jesus Christ. But remember that to begin to say Mass is to begin to suffer. You will not become aware of this immediately, but little by little you will realise that your mother was right. I am sure that you will pray for me everyday, whether I be still living or dead, and that is enough for me. From now on you must think only of saving souls; never worry about me." - Mamma Margaret to her son, Don Bosco on the occasion of his ordination.

Saturday, 14 November 2015 09:31

ST JOHN BOSCO COLLEGE - OFFICIALLY OPEN

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Friday saw the formal opening ceremony and blessing of the new school buildings of St John Bosco College, with the Archbishop of Southwark, Peter Smith, and Fr Martin Coyle SDB, Provincial.

In 1887 three Salesians said 'goodbye' to Don Bosco in Turin to begin their pioneering journey into the unknown, arriving in Battersea, London on the 16th November. Don Bosco was keen to expand his work into an English speaking country and had been invited by Bishop Butt to send the Salesians to Battersea, at the reqquest of and funded by the Countess de Stacpoole. None of them could have imagined that 128 years later over 140 invited guests would be gathering to open and bless a wonderful new school building - securing the Salesian Mission here for the future.

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"I am delighted that the new school building project has reached its culmination with itys official opening. It has been a labour of love and faith over many, many months, involving the many different groups, but all focused on providing the best facilities for the young people in the local area. From an idea, to a plan, to a move, to a hole in the groiund, to this wonderful new home for the pupils and staff of St John Bosco College. Thosw who now use this place have a responsibility of Stewards, to make the most of the gift they are privileged to receive, but in a way that recognises that it will be handed on to others to use. May God bless all who study and work here, and all who visit." (Archbishop Peter)

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Wednesday, 11 November 2015 15:05

BOVA - A HAPPY BIRTHDAY

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Volunteers and staff with the Regional, Fr Tadeusz and the Provincial, Fr Martin at Savio House, Bollington.

Congratulations - and here's to the next 10 years!!

Monday, 09 November 2015 16:28

BOSCO VOLUNTEER ACTION ('BOVA)

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We are delighted to send our greetings to Anita and all those involved with Bosco Volunteer Action on their 10th Birthday.

Responding to a request to the then Provincial (Fr Michael Winstanley SDB), the Salesian Youth Ministry Department in the British Province set the ball rolling.
At the last count over 150 people, young and old have offered Volunteering all around the world.
 
Long may the work of 'BOVA, especially in the field of Social Justice continue. 
 
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Wednesday, 04 November 2015 09:00

SALESIAN SPIRITUALITY WEEKEND

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'Many people err in imagining that many different things, many different methods are needed in order to make prayer good. I do not say that one should not make use of particular methods; but we should not cling to them or hang on to them to the extent that we put all our trust in them. In order to pray well, one thing only is necessary, namely, to hold our Lord in our arms. When we do this, our prayer is always well made, no matter in what ways we may choose to approach it.' (St Francis de Sales)

Monday, 02 November 2015 17:18

EXTRAORDINARY VISITATION

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On behalf of the Salesians and Salesian Family, we are delighted to welcome Fr Tadeusz Rozmus SDB, the Regional Councillor for Central-North Europe to the British (GBR) Province for the Extraordinary Visitation during the month of November. Fr Tadeusz comes in the name of the Rector Major and will visit each Salesian Community and speak with each Salesian Confrere. In a very tight schedule he will also have the opportunity to see the different Salesian works, meet those who share in our mission, meet members of the Salesian Family, attend the Youth Ministry Weekend and the Opening and Blessing Ceremony for St John Bosco College, Battersea.

Fr Tadeusz visited the GBR Province briefly in May 2014 when he met the confreres on retreat at Hothorpe Hall and in Farnborough and St Joseph's, and he also joined the group of SDBs on the Pilgrimage Retreat to the Holy Land in May 2015. We are delighted that he will be able to spend more time with us and in the Province.

Another important task during the Visitation will be to conduct the Consultation for the new Provincial for the term 2016-2022. We have celebrated a novena of Masses around the Province in these last days for the 'light of the Holy Spirit' and will continue to pray for God's blesing during the coming month.

May God bless Fr Tadeusz in his work with us.

Sunday, 01 November 2015 10:30

THE FEAST OF ALL SAINTS

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For a very long time, the Church has reserved one day in which to honour all the saints, both those officially recognised and those known only to God. Saints are not seen as 'super' human beings, but as those people who realised the vocation for which all of us were created and to which we are ultimately called. We are not called to be another St John Bosco or St Mary Mazzarello - but to engage our own talents and temperaments, our own strengths and weaknesses, and to respond to the needs of our brothers and sisters around us. This Feast strengthens and encourages us to create our own pathway to sanctity.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015 18:00

MEETING OF SALESIANS IN PARISH MINISTRY

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12-14 October

Hothorpe Hall

Nine Salesians from various parishes up and down the Province came together for their annual meeting in the countryside of Leicestershire. Also in attendance was the Provincial, Fr Martin Coyle SDB and the Youth Ministry Animator, Sue McDonald.

Fr Martin led Monday afternoon's session. He invited people to look at their own specific Parish - What are its strengths, its weaknesses? What challenges or threats are facing us? How can we respond to the opportunities that are in front of us? The session allowed people to speak about their parish, the people within those parishes - and the high points (and low points!) of their ministry.

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Tuesday was led by Fr David O'Malley SDB - over three sessions during the day, David guided the group to look at some of the challenges of General Chapter 27 - how do we as Salesians move or further develop the Parish Community to an authentic place exhibiting Gospel values? How do we respond to young people within the Parish setting - how do we effectively continue to address their needs? Recognising that many young people often need an excuse to 'cross over the door', how do busy priests (already responding to the many needs of everyone else) make those connections? Using pieces of solid secular research, David guided the group in exploring where today's young people stand - and how religion and faith can indeed help young people to grow and survive in today's world. It was noted that the development of Don Bosco's work was through young people - 'come back next week, and bring your friends!'

David's input allowed people to reflect and discuss with each other on all the issues raised - a gentle timetable and approach id always very much appreciated when people live very busy lives.

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The Wednesday session looked and felt very different. Fr Bob Gardner SDB (Salesian Link) - spoke briefly about where things were developing in the Media and Communications field - and presented all present with the new DVD resource from the Southwark Catholic Youth Service, 'Life in Christ'. He was followed by Sue McDonald from Youth Ministry who thanked all for the great support during Flame 2. She also outlined various activities that were happening (World Youth Day in Poland, the Young Adults Spirituality weekend etc) and offered support to those working with young people in the parishes.

There was a general discussion about the format of the Parishes Meeting for the future. People wanted to continue to meet, which was very positive - and a variety of topics were explored as to future themes/topics for the meetings. Fr Martin then spoke about the up and coming 'Visitation of the Province', the consultation for the new Provincial, as well as the Provincial Chapter to be held in 2016, at Limehouse, London. As one person commented - "The Salesian Charism is stronger than it ever was in the Province!"

The ministries of prayer and hospitality are always hugely important on these occasions - prayer, Mass, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament - along with excellent food and relaxing company. Hopefully people are going back to their Parishes feeling refreshed and encouraged, continuing to bring the Gospel to the Church, respecially the young, in a Salesian way.

Roll on the 17-19 October, 2016!!

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DON BOSCO TODAY

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