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Holy Week this year will remain in our memories for a long time, as we seek new ways to be with Jesus in his Passion, and to share the Pascal mysteries and the joy of his Resurrection with each other. The experience and the words of St Mary Mazzarello, who founded the Salesian Sisters with Don Bosco, can help us through these difficult times, and guide us this week.


When she was in her early 20s, Mary experienced the tragedy of an epidemic, courageously nursing her relatives who were suffering from typhoid during a deadly outbreak that afflicted the whole area. She caught the disease herself, coming close to death, and it was in the aftermath of this experience that her way forward in life became clear to her.


Before her illness, working long hours in the family’s fields, Mary couldn’t get to Mass as often as she would have liked, and would gaze at the distant church from her window to feel part of the congregation and to spiritually engage with the Mass.

From childhood, Mary was known for her vitality and sense of joy, and as the first superior of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, her letters to her Sisters urge them to cheerfulness, kindness and courage. To the Sisters in Uruguay , in 1879, she wrote:

Are you cheerful? Be that way always! Unite yourself closely to Jesus, work only to please Him, try to become more holy each day. In this way you will always be cheerful. … Take courage, my good Sisters; Jesus must be your whole strength. With Jesus, burdens become light, fatigue becomes easy, thorns are turned into sweetness.

Giving advice that speaks strongly to us as we cope with our present crisis, Mary later wrote to the same group: ‘Never take offence. Rather, as soon as you notice that someone needs some comfort, give it to her immediately; console and help one another!’

Rather like us this week, (though lacking the benefit of technology), in their first year at Nizza Monferrato , Mary and the Sisters with her were unable to physically access the liturgies of Holy Week, and although nostalgic for familiar spiritual activities at this most important time, they lived the way of the cross in their hearts:

We are having a very poor Holy Week here,’ Mary wrote to the Rector of the House of Mornese, ‘without ceremonies or anything. From time to time the Sisters exclaim: "Ah, Mornese! Ah, Mornese!" The Lord accepts the heart, right? Therefore we will console ourselves with that thought.


Writing to a novice in 1878, Mary shows us the way to be together although we are apart:


Although such a great distance separates us from one another, we form one heart to love our beloved Jesus and Mary Most Holy, and we can always meet [there] and pray for one another.


St Mary Mazzarello has much to teach us now, and we ask her to support and guide us in our own Holy Week journey with Jesus, separated from each other, but far from alone.

Extracts taken from: Letters of Maria Domenica Mazarello, FMA English-language Translation Group, published on


For your own reflection


Isaiah 42: 1-7

Here is my servant in whom my soul delights

Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom my soul delights. I have endowed him with my spirit that he may bring true justice to the nations.

He does not cry out or shout aloud, or make his voice heard in the streets. He does not break the crushed reed or quench the wavering flame. Faithfully he brings true justice; he will neither waver nor be crushed until true justice is established on earth, for the islands are awaiting his law.

Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and spread them out, who gave shape to the earth and what comes from it, who gave breath to its people, and life to the creatures that move in it it:

'I, the Lord, have called you to serve the cause of right; I have taken you by the hand and formed you; I have appointed you as covenant of the people and light of the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to free captives from prison, and those who live in darkness from the dungeon.'



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Christ with a Crown of Thorns by Aloys Wach, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons 

This Holy Week, as we reflect on the suffering of Jesus, we pray for the sick, for those who have died, for families and individuals afflicted by grief and worry, for our health and care workers, and for all those working to keep our society and its essential services going.

We look to the hope Jesus gave us.


God of love,
My prayer is simple:
Your son, Jesus, suffered and died for me.
I know only
that I cannot have real strength
unless I rely on you.
I cannot feel protected
from my many weaknesses
until I turn to you
for forgiveness and your unalterable love.
Help me to share this
strength, protection and love with others.

From Creighton University, One Prayer a Day for Lent: Holy Week


Thursday, 02 April 2020 15:39

An invitation to share the Easter Triduum online

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Salesian Youth Ministry has been changing its plans for the Youth Easter retreat to offer its Easter Triduum retreat online, and together with the Salesian community at Thornleigh, would like to invite all of the Salesian Family to take part.

Masses and liturgies will be live-streamed on Facebook, so if you are a Facebooker, like our pages @salesianlink for the Province and @symonlineoratory where Youth Ministry's activities are being shared.

Other events will take place over Zoom. If you would like to take part and don't yet have a Zoom acccount, you can sign up for a free one here:

If you are taking part, please email or message our @symonlineoratory Facebook page as soon as you can to get meeting invites, more information and resources for each event.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020 20:36

Cardinal speaks about Easter Duties this year

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We are approaching Holy Week, the most important time of year in our Church, and this year, we are not able to carry out our 'Easter Duties' in the way we usually do. Cardinal Vincent Nichols speaks to us in a video to give guidance on how we can faithfully live the Passion and Resurrection at home. He explains how we can make an 'act of perfect contrition' when we can't get to confession, and speaks about God's forgiveness and our need to seek it.


Watch the video:

Wednesday, 01 April 2020 11:01

More new initiatives to bring comfort

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In difficult times, finding the sparks of light in our lives and things to be grateful for is more important than ever. With churches and religious communities now offering Masses and prayer online, especially as video, our communities and our Salesian Family is being strengthened and finding joy in seeing Salesians they may not have seen for a long time, or those they regularly see but no longer can.

The latest initiative is from the Battersea Parish team and Salesian community, who began 21 days 'Lockdown with Jesus' which we are sharing on our Salesianlink Facebook page. You can visit our page here, even if you are not 'on' Facebook. 

Wednesday, 01 April 2020 18:24

Prayer & a Pint and our plans

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We had 10 people sign in for prayer and a pint on our first session last Friday, and so far, seven more have asked to be involved this week - even Australia is going to join for 'prayer and breakfast' at the same time.

We are planning more online ministry activities for Holy Week and for after Easter, so if you're on FB, make sure you 'like' our page to keep up to date, or keep watching here for new announcements.

To take part this week or in future, get a free Zoom acccount here: and email or message our @symonlineoratory Facebook page for a meeting invite.

Sue McDonald

Salesian Youth Ministry Animator GBR


Wednesday, 01 April 2020 11:48

Salesians in India act to help the poorest

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The Salesians in India have many friends in our Province, and this week, Fr Payyamthadathil George SDB, Economer of Bangalore Province, shared news of what they are doing to help the poorest who are so badly affected in the COVID 19 crisis. India is in 3 weeks of lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus, and Fr George says Kerala State, where the Salesians are fully present, is one of the most affected regions. Though the spread was initially progressing relatively slowly, recent news is that it is escalating. The Salesians are doing all they can to prevent the spread into crowded communities. (Above: providing food and aupport at a migrant workers' camp)

Wednesday, 01 April 2020 15:43

A message of faith and hope from the Rector Major

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The Salesian Rector Major, Fr Ángel Artime SDB, has spoken from Rome to Confreres, the Salesian Family, catechists and young people, in a video message released on Wednesday 1 April 2020.

"I greet you in this moment of great pain due to the Coronavirus pandemic," he said. He spoke of the 14 Salesians who have already died from the virus, and the pain so many share because of those they know and love who have died.

"I hold in my heart the memory of Friday, the prayer where we accompanied the Holy Father ... Surely the Holy Father has never prayed so alone, in St Peter's Square, so large yet so empty. But surely he has never prayed so accompanied by the whole Christian world, and certainly also by the believers of other religions. And the Pope has left us this message, the only one possible, with an outlook of faith and hope, that passage of the Gospel of the storm, where the Lord tells us, 'Don't be afraid'.

Don Ángel says we too must live this moment in that outlook of faith and hope, with prayer which intensifies and strengthens, and with a deep feeling that in God we have our trust and our safety.

The Rector Major thanked the entire Salesian Family for how it is responding to the emergency caused by Covid-19. He praised the many Salesian initiatives to enable prayer and the celebration of Masses to be shared, and for continuing formation activities, which he described as "truly a cascading of creativity all over the world". He also commended everyone for accepting "as honest citizens", the restrictions and regulations our authorites and govenments have imposed for our safety.

He left us with a plea to contnue to think how we can bring helpto  the neediest as soon as possible, "to families who find it difficult to live; to the poorest, those who, if they cannot work, they cannot eat."

"There is no doubt that Don Bosco continues to accompany us, and our Mother, Help of Christians, holds us all in her arms," he concluded, "Let us all pray for each other."


Watch the video in English on the ANS YouTube channel.

Friday, 27 March 2020 11:02

SYM Online Fridays: Prayers & a Pint

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Salesian Youth Ministry is hosting 'Prayers and a Pint' over Zoom on Friday evenings at 6pm, to strengthen our community in difficult times.


To join us for an after-work drink and a moment of prayer over Zoom at 6pm this Friday evening, sign up to Zoom for a free account if you've not already got one, and email or message our @symonlineoratory Facebook page for the meeting ID. 


Oh. and pour yourself the beverage of your own choice. 

Tuesday, 24 March 2020 14:06

Our Province-wide work during COVID 19

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The Salesians of Don Bosco UK have been strictly observing all of the measures to support our NHS and protect vulnerable people, and that has meant a lot of changes. However, much of our work is continuing, just in different ways. Staff who are able to do so are working safely from home to keep our Province-wide services, including Communications, Youth Ministry and Don Bosco Publications, going.

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Salesian Youth Ministry is still operating during the current crisis (from home), and they are taking their work online to keep everyone working with the young connected in Salesian friendship. 


If you are on Facebook, you can 'like' their @symonlineoratory page and join in. Here's the page link: We will be sharing as much as we can on our website here too, for non-Facebookers.


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