Rebecca is serving with Bosco Volunteer Action (BOVA), our overseas volunteer project. This is her first letter from Didia, Tanzania.
It has already been nearly 3 months since I was getting on a plane headed to Tanzania, wondering what was ahead of me for the next 9 months - here I would like to share with you some of my experience so far.
One thing I quickly learned about Tanzania is the incredibly welcoming nature of the people here. Since I arrived every person I have met has welcomed me like a family member, whether it be into their home, shop or school. 'Karibu', ('welcome' in Kiswahili), must be the most common word here and this welcoming nature, from what I can see, is a strong part of the culture here, and is something I am very appreciative of.
Year 9 student, Orlando Greene, writes about a recent visit to the Diocese of Westminster's seminary, which occupies part of the site of St Thomas More's house in Chelsea.
The RE Department took us across Battersea Bridge to Allen Hall to visit a seminary, a school for men wanting to become priests. We met a priest in training called Jakub and he explained to us how he made the decision to become a priest. (photo above)
Jakub showed us where all the seminarians studied and also where they ate. We visited the chapel where the seminarians pray to God; and there we asked him questions about what it feels like to be called by God to be a priest. He was very honest and said that it was the hardest decision of his life.
We also saw the oldest tree in Chelsea with a link to St Thomas More. It is a mulberry tree and is about 500 years old. We took a photo of our teachers in front of the tree (below) and after that we headed back to school just in time for the end of the school day.
Teachers in front of a mulberry tree, planted by St Thomas More in his former garden
Late last term, Salesian College Farnborough hosted the second joint workshop on Salesian Leadership for our schools in the South. The half-day event was led by Miss Alex Kent, Assistant Head at Salesian College, Fr Patrick Sherlock SDB, Chaplain, and Fr Gerry Briody SDB, Provincial (pictured above).
Salesian College were very welcoming of students from Chertsey and Battersea, and made sure the gathering got off to a great start by very kindly providing everyone with a free lunch. The ice breakers led by Alex Kent were the perfect way to get students from the three schools mingling, so that by the time the real work started they were comfortable enough with each other to have meaningful discussions around leadership.
Singers from SJBC Battersea brought Christmas joy to the residents of St Teresa's care home in Kensington, run for over 80 years by the Sisters Hospitallers of The Sacred Heart Of Jesus. A Year 10 student describes their visit.
It was the second last day of term when we were taken by Mr Dallman and Fr Andrew to sing for the residents of Roland Gardens which is run by the Hospitaller Sisters. It was great! We wore Christmas hats and sang our best for them.
In the final days of Advent, as our waiting draws to a close, we think of Mary, the first evangeliser, and, following Don Bosco's example, entrust to her our own vocation in life and our mission to bring the Gospel to others through our actions and words. On this last Sunday of Advent, we also pray for all expectant mothers.
Isaiah 7: 14 The maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel.
The teaching of our Church
May the great Mother of God, queen of the apostles, hear our prayers and call down upon the heralds of the Gospel the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Pope Benedict XV, Maximum Illud 1919
Let us draw inspiration from Mary, Mother of Evangelisation. She welcomed the Word in the depths of humble faith. May the Virgin Mother help us to say our own “yes”, conscious of the urgent need to make the Good News of Jesus resound in our time. May she intercede for us that we can acquire the holy audacity to discover new ways to bring the gift of salvation to every man and woman. Pope Francis, World Mission Day 2017
Salesian thought We believe that Mary is present among us and continues her “mission as Mother of the Church and Help of Christians”. We entrust ourselves to her, the humble servant in whom the Lord has done great things, that we may become witnesses to the young of her Son’s boundless love. Salesian Constitutions, 8
Adapted from Baptised & Sent, Salesian Missions, Rome, by Salesians GBR
Last week, Salesian Link and Don Bosco Publications welcomed a new member of our teams. Dominic Small has joined us as a Business Administration Apprentice. Dom has really hit the ground running and is already making a big contribution to our work (including producing this week's RuaLink e-news, and getting some of our news onto the website!). Below, he tells us a little about himself. Welcome to our family, Dominic!
Last Friday, the Salesian Sisters gathered with friends, suporters and students past and present to mark 60 years of their ministry to the young in Liverpool.
Provincial Sr Connie Cameron FMA spoke movingly to the gathered congregation, students from St John Bosco Arts College created the beautiful music and dance at the Mass, and old friends had a chance to reminisce over a delicious buffet.
In the tower of St James’ Church, Bootle, there are ten bells. They have not been used in seven years because of the condition of the tower.
One of the bells, the largest, is the original tolling bell, known as “Big Tom”. There are nine other bells were cast in 1924 at the O’Byrne Foundry, Dublin, to form a peal. Inscribed on the largest of the nine bells are the words: “This peal of bells is erected to the memory of the late Canon Kelly, for 37 years Rector of St James’s, RIP”. The remaining eight bells have a name inscribed on each one: Our Lady of Lourdes, St Bernadette, St James, St Joseph, St Patrick, St Anthony, The Little Flower, and Gemma Galgani.