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....
...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......