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Saturday, 19 September 2015 19:33


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Summer this year began on the 3rd July for Youth Ministry, with the arrival of 24 young adults from around Europe hoping to qualify as trainers for Don Bosco Youth-Net. We had a small host team cooking and looking after the guests each day from 0800 to midnight for the ten day Step 3 course. We also provided one of the trainers in the guise of Fr Bob Gardner SDB and we had our own participant from Great Britain, Gina Hindley. It was a great opportunity for us to work together as Salesians in the UK (Vides and Youth Ministry) on a project and it was a suucess, not because they said we were exemplary hosts with good food, but because it gave us the chance to experience the wider Salesian family and the wealth of committed young adults we have volunteering for the mission Don Bosco entrusted to us. By the way Gina passed the course and will train volunteers in Europe.

From that we moved into our usual summer activity, 'Phoenix', in which we provided six schools with ten places each on a project for young people leaving Year 7. This is always very popular with the schools, and places were filled by January! This year the weeks were led by Amy Grattidge and Chloe Ceairns who both did an outstanding job. The teachers accompanying the 60 young people are always supportive and are a welcome addition to the small team of volunteers working on the week. This year as well as canoeing, swimming, team games, we added a climbing wall, because of generous donations received during the year.

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During Phoenix we welcomed the family of Bro Greg Golas SDB, who tragically died in 2013 at Savio House. His family wanted to come and see our camps in action. They brought sweets and gifts for the young people and volunteers as well as teaching them all a Polish dance. It was lovely for the teachers to have the opportunity to share a few memories from 2013.

Whilst all this was going on we sent three of our volunteers, Madeleine, Hannah and Georgia, on a six day training course called "Routes to Europe" in Vienna where they met other young Salesians from around Europe and focussed on refugees and cultural identity.

During the second week of Phoenix, Youth Ministry piloted a new venture called 'RISE' for Year 11's and 12's. This was a fantastic beginning to the project. The young people work together and look at leadership skills and their gifts in leadership. One Year 11 from Farnborough summed up the week' 'Last week was one of the best in my whole life. I have met fantastic people, learned essential leadership skills and had an opportunity to reflect on what is important for me. It's been a great week; I've never laughed so hard or so much in such great company before.'

The next event that called upon the presence of Youth Ministry was the provincial gathering for the Bi-Centenary event at Thornleigh, Bolton. Twenty-six of us attended and hosted the event with Gerry Kehoe and the Provincial. This was truly a memorable day for us all. The volunteers always  come out of provincial events with the word 'WOW' on their lips,and this was no exception!20150730 1417101

Lastly, the summer ended with Don Bosco Youth-Net, Step 2 in Malta, attended by two of our volunteers David and Anya. Tne project called 'Step out of the Box' brought twenty-four young people from across Europe to explore and learn from the best practices, on how to maintain a project and give it life. They only arrived back recently so we await their report, as so far we have only seen pictures of this beautiful sunny island ,and the young adults having a great time.

Sue McDonald - SYM Animator

[pictures used are from the RISE project]

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.


Monday, 14 September 2015 17:06


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We offer our warmest congratulations and prayers to Bro Lukasz Duminski SDB and Bro Janusz Garus SDB who renewed their vows to Religious Profession on Sunday 6th September.

Both Brothers from Poland, on Practical Training in the GBR Province stated their intention to live the Vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience for two years to the Vice-Provincial, Fr Bob Gardner SDB, who took the place of the Rector Major.

The celebration was attended by the local Savio House Community, and a large number of the Shrigley Old Boys and their families.

Saturday, 12 September 2015 16:56



photo: Matthew Neville

On Tuesday 8th September, the second anniversary of Pope Francis’ denunciation of the evils of the arms trade[1], Christians gathered outside the ExCeL centre in London as it prepares to host one of the world’s largest arms fairs. Travelling from across the country and representing diverse denominations and groups, they maintained a presence at the gates throughout the day.

Peacefully, prayerfully, many of those present stepped out into the roads, successfully preventing access to the entrances to the centre where preparations for next week’s exhibition are underway. Multiple blockades through the day were part of a whole week of creative action to disrupt the set-up of the DSEi Arms Fair. Informal prayers sat in front of a growing tail-back of lorries and a funeral procession for the unnumbered victims of the arms trade were among the powerful moments which took place in the approach roads to the ExCeL gates.

Supported by those maintaining prayerful vigil on the surrounding verges and pavements, the atmosphere remained one of respectful peace and of passion steeped in gospel values: a stark contrast to preparations for an event which will contribute to the continuing escalation of instability and conflict; the human cost of which is becoming increasingly evident.


photo: Matthew Neville

DSEi takes place every two years and brings thousands of arms manufacturers and dealers together with representatives of global governments including those from some of the world’s most repressive regimes[2]. As the refugee crisis in Europe draws our attention to increasing global conflict and instability, there is an almost sickening irony in knowing many of those conflicts are fuelled by a trade which being encouraged here, in our capital.

The theme of the Beatitudes reverberated through the day, with different groups independently choosing their inclusion in their liturgies. The power of Jesus’ words, spoken to an audience living under a military occupation, resonated through acts of repentance and resistance, in the face of a system which continues to perpetuate violence and oppression.

The sense of joy and community, which pervaded the day, even in the seemingly impenetrable face of death and destruction, allowed us to experience the truth of the blessing, that the peacemakers and those who hunger and thirst for justice will know happiness.


Read more about the actions against the Arms Fair as well as about DSEi itself at

I can be contacted at:




[2] The guest list for this year’s DSEi will not be announced until the first day of the exhibition, but previous invitees have included military delegations from a large number of repressive regimes including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Libya, Egypt, Afghanistan and Bahrain.

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Your Majesty,

It is an honour and a pleasure to express the great loyalty and gratitude felt by the Catholic community of England and Wales for the outstanding and unstinting service you give to our nation and to people throughout the world.

We express these sentiments with particular warmth and admiration as you celebrate the occasion of surpassing the length of reign of any other British Monarch.

Along with Catholics across the world. and especially in the Commonwealth, we join our prayers of thanksgiving to those of other Christians for the many blessings of your reign.

Your vocation as our Queen has been unstinting over these years. The burden of high office fell upon your shoulders at a young age, and yet through the many and varied circumstances of your Reign, you have held integrity of service as a high standard and as an exemplar for other heads of state and leaders of nations. We give thanks too for the constant support that Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, has shown you in your time as our Queen; his role as Prince Consort being a source of strength and stay.

We thank you too, for your steadfast insistence on the great importance of our Christian faith, given in both word and example, alongside your appreciation of the contribution made by other religions in our rich and diverse society today. Our hope is that, enriched by the presence of many beliefs and cultures, our country will always maintain respect for our Christian heritage and the sure foundations that it provides for a flourishing of true human fulfilment. The Gospel of Jesus which we seek to serve, is a challenge to our society to think more deeply about the sanctity of life, the constant need for forgiveness and reconciliation, and the faithfulness required in love and the self-sacrifice which brings true satisfaction.

Your Majesty, it is my privilege to assure you of our prayers for you, now and in the future and, most especially, on the day when you become our longest reigning Monarch. All the Catholic communities in England and Wales have been asked to offer special prayers for you and your family on this most special of days.

May Almighty God bless your Majesty, preserve you in health of mind and body, and grant you every grace and blessing, now and in the years to come.

+ Vincent Cardinal Nichols


Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales

Tuesday, 25 August 2015 11:17



Maria Troncatti was born in Cortegno Golgi (Brescia) on February 16, 1883. She grew up happy and hardworking in her numerous family, dividing her time between the farm and caring for her little brothers and sisters, in the warm and loving atmosphere created by her exemplary parents. She regularly attended catechism in her parish, where she developed a deep Christian spirit and opened her heart to the values of a religious vocation.

First profession at Nizza Monferrato

In obedience to her parish priest, however, she waited till she reached adulthood before asking to be admitted to the Institute of the Salesian Sisters. She made her first profession in 1908 at Nizza Monferrato.

During the First World War (1915-18) Sr. Maria took a course in health care in Varazze and worked as a Red Cross nurse in the military hospital. This experience was to prove very valuable in the course of her long missionary life in the Amazon forests of Ecuador.

Missionary in Ecuador

She left for Ecuador in 1922 and was sent to work among the Shuar people where, together with two other Sisters, she began the difficult work of evangelisation. They faced dangers of every kind, including those caused by the beasts of the forest and by fast flowing rivers that had to be waded through or crossed on fragile "bridges" made from creepers or on the shoulders of the Indians.

Nurse, surgeon, dentist...

Macas, Sevillia Don Bosco, Sucúa are some of the "miracles" of Sr. Maria Troncatti's work that still flourish. She was nurse, surgeon, orthopaedist, dentist, anaesthetist... But, above all, she was catechist and evangeliser, rich in the wonderful resources of her faith, patience and fraternal love.

Promotion of Shuar women

Her work for the promotion of the Shuar woman bore fruit in hundreds of new Christian families formed, for the first time, on a free personal choice on the part of the young couple.

Sr. Maria died in a tragic air crash at Sucúa on August 25, 1969. Her remains lie at Macas, in the Province of Morona (Ecuador).

Proclaimed Blessed on the 24 November 2012






Reporting abuse

If you are concerned about the welfare of a child or adult at risk, do not delay in contacting the police, using 999 if a child or adult is believed to be in immediate danger.

It is the policy of the Catholic Church in England and Wales to report all allegations of abuse to statutory authorities, regardless of whether the abuse occurred recently or in the past, or whether the accused person is living or deceased.

If you are in any role within the Catholic Church in England and Wales, you must refer allegations directly to the safeguarding office for your diocese or religious congregation, or directly to the Police. To contact the Safeguarding Office for the Salesians of Don Bosco UK, call 01204 600 720.

If you are a member of the public, please refer allegations directly to the police and also to the safeguarding office in your diocese; (the relevant Diocesan safeguarding office can be located using the interactive map on the links page of the CSAS website - contact details will be shown when you click on the relevant area of the map). You can also contact CSAS by telephoning 0207 901 1920 or via email at


The Catholic Church in England and Wales: Safeguarding e-Learning

If you have a role working with children, young people or adults who may be vulnerable, or if you are a parent who wants to understand on-line safety, I encourage you to read the e-learning safeguarding brochure. This explains what programmes are available via e-learning and how to access the programmes that interest you.

This e-learning package is part of the Church’s commitment to safeguarding, recognising we all have a role to play in creating a safe environment.


Download: Towards a Culture of Safeguarding




Download: Salesian Policy Statement

Please click on the following link if you wish to contact the Salesian Safeguarding Officer

After twenty four hours of rain the prospects for the 'outdoor' celebrations for the Province didn't look too bright, on Saturday (15th August). The thought of chairs disappearing into the lawns of Thornleigh and the fireworks being soaked through caused a sleepless night for the Provincial and the Bi-Centenary Team....

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...But on the day itself things came good and over 290 people (young and old) piled into the grounds of the Provincial House, Thornleigh and the School Hall and grounds of Thornleigh Salesian College. The Youth Ministry Team welcomed all the visitors showing them to the refreshments awaiting them, and the games and outdoor activities.


The Provincial Chapel of Mary Help of Christians was the scene for the celebration of Holy Mass, led by Fr Martin Coyle SDB, the Provincial, with the local Bishop of Salford in attendance, Bishop John Arnold. People were delighted also to witness the First Profession of Bro Ste Lloyd SDB (more about that below). The Chapel was spotless, the Readers in good form and the Musicians heavenly!!

After the Mass, the whole group trooped across to the School Hall for the performance of a specially commissioned Drama piece called 'Don Bosco - A magic Saint!' The piece has been travelling up and down the UK to schools, Churches, Halls and Cathedrals - but for many this was the first time they had had the opportunity to see it. (The tour continues, heading northwards to Lancaster and Middlesborough, continuing into the New Year).

As people chatted about the drama they had seen, they were expertly led by the Youth Team down to the food - a hog roast (plus a veggie version, obviously), salads, potatoes, pasta, wine and soft drinks. Sitting under the twinkling lights of the canopy people relaxed and chatted about their experiences of being 'Salesian'.

And on to the Grand Finale - amidst the smoke and the lights Don Bosco himself appeared to give his message to us all;



200 years. Who could have imagined it? (And I'm still looking quite good!)
My dream and my work began as a small flicker of hope, a beam of light, a spark of fire ....
And now we have the great Salesian Family all over the world;
truly amazing and something indeed to celebrate.
200 years ago the young people on the streets of Turin needed me,
They needed my help, teaching and guidance
They needed my care, concern and love
The little I could do, with the little I had, made a real difference to each of them.
My little mustard seed was enough to allow them to grow and to develop into the young people God had created them to be, with all their amazing gifts and talents and incredible potential.
Yes, I saw mustard seeds grow all around me, every day ..... And it was all God's work.
Today the young people on the streets of Great Britain still need the same.
They need the same help and guidance, care and love ....
They need you!
They need you the Salesian Family, wherever you are and whatever you are doing.
They need you to be with them, to teach them, to guide them, to let them know that they are loved.
They need you to live the Salesian Charism .... today!
Thank you for celebrating this event here at Thornleigh. (I've certainly enjoyed it).
Live my dream, be my Salesian family in Britain today:
                  'Like Don Bosco, with the young, for the young'!

And then the fireworks began......


Monday, 17 August 2015 14:13

Congratulations to Bro Ste Lloyd SDB


On Saturday evening, the 15th August, Ste Lloyd make his first Profession of the Vows of Obedience, Poverty and Chastity in the presence of the Provincial, Fr Martin Coyle SDB. Supported by his parents, Margy and Gary, his niece and nephew, Alicia and Craig, family, friends and parishioners of his home Parish, St James' Bootle, the occasion was celebrated as part of the Province's Bi-centenary celebrations of the Birth of Don Bosco.

The Chapel of Our Lady Help of Christians, Thornleigh Bolton was a fitting home for Ste's profession, and all the Province send him their prayers and good wishes as he starts his life as a professed Salesian of Don Bosco.

Also in attendance was Bishop John Arnold, the Bishop of Salford.


Saturday, 15 August 2015 11:53




"Do you want to do a holy thing, a very holy thing, a most holy thing? Educate the young."


The history of our society can be traced to an obscure village in the north of Italy called The Becchi.

Our history began, we may say, when little John Bosco dreamed a very strange dream at the age of 9. Or we may date the origins of our society to a surprise encounter that brought him face to face with a frightened street urchin in a church sacristy on 8 December 1841. Or perhaps to the little band of 17 young men to whom Don Bosco first gave the title ‘Salesians’ on 26 January, 1854.

But these historical facts barely explain our international existence as a ‘family’ of nearly 402,500 members in the service of young people.

With a feeling of humble gratitude we believe that the Society of St. Francis de Sales came into being not as a merely human venture but by the initiative of God.
(source: Const. Art. 1)


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