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Fr Sony Joseph Pottenplackal SDB, Rector and Principal of Don Bosco Technical High School sends news of their recent celebrations. The school in Liberia has had strong connections to our GBR Province, through Fr Michael O'Meara, Fr Joe Brown and others. The celebrations were attended by the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Miroslaw Adamczyk, and many former pupils attended.

Greetings from Don Bosco Monrovia!

We had a little celebration here in Monrovia a week ago as our school is 25 years old now. The work has grown and this is in fact a monument of the work of the early Salesians who dedicated their life in Liberia - most of who were British Salesians. The late Fr Michael O'Meara is dearly remembered for his hard work as the first principal of the school. Past pupils cherish him as someone who really gave them a life in difficult times. We want to express our deepest thanks on behalf of all the beneficiaries to all of you for the support given to the Salesian work here.

Here are some pictures of the Silver Jubilee Celebrations of Don Bosco Technical High School.

We also rededicated and consecrated our parish church.


Warm regards and prayers,

Fr Sony Joseph Pottenplackal SDB






St Gregs Bollington HolyDoor


On Friday 18 November Father Cyril from Savio House led a group of parishioners from St Gregory’s church in Bollington near Macclesfield on a pilgrimage to St Albans in Macclesfield to celebrate the Year of Mercy. This was a wonderful opportunity for everyone to share in the graces promised when passing through the Door of Mercy.


After praying the Sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary the congregation gathered in the church porch in front of the Holy Door where Father Cyril prayed from the psalms before we returned to the main church. Reciting the Divine Mercy chaplet made a prayerful preparation for receiving the sacraments.


Before the celebration of the Holy Eucharist Fathers Tony and Roman (from Savio House) joined Father Cyril to offer the congregation the sacrament of reconciliation.

The graces we receive from God are often beyond words, but in snippets of conversation since the Pilgrimage people have said “That day I felt a great weight lifted from me, that I didn’t even know I was carrying” and “I feel free” and “I am still receiving graces from the pilgrimage”.


This incredible opportunity to receive a plenary indulgence and experience God’s love for us was made possible by the service and dedication of the priests at Savio House to whom St Gregory’s owes a debt of gratitude.


Annette Hurst

St Gregory’s, Bollington, Cheshire

Thursday, 01 December 2016 14:44

Sisters open new house in Beckenham

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The new community house in Beckenham was blessed by Bishop Pat Lynch this week. He is pictured above with Sr Mary and Sr Helen.


It's a busy but exciting time, as the Sisters continue to settle in, and prepare for their mission, working with female asylum seekers.


We wish them every blessing in their valuable work.



SYM Sal Spir Weekend2

Sue McDonald of Salesian Youth Ministry, tells us about the Salesian Spirituality Weekend, held from 25 - 27 November 2016, at Savio House


This weekend, the last of the year for the youth ministry department, was one of reflection on our our spirituality. This year we began with a 10 year period of Mary Mazzarello's life, from 1855-1865. During these years, from the 1st consecration of the Duaghters of Mary Immaculate to the laying of the foundation stone in the School at Mornese, Mary Mazzarello faced many challenges calling for many changes, sometimes subtle and other times life changing.

After this we looked at our our life stories as Salesians over the past 10 years. This was very moving and led to a depth we could not have anticipated.

A brisk walk was needed and as aways we ended up at the lovely waterside cafe at the canal for hot chocolate and scones.

We went on in the weekend to share on the future as salesians in GBR and closed the evening with the Film of Mary Mazzarello "Main, the House of Happiness". 

Although we only gather once a year for specific Salesian Spirituality reflection this time is very special and we were amazed to see how our lifes have intertwined with one another over the years.

It was great to also have the sharing this year with the Salesians in Initial formation alongside the lay people, thanks to Fr Martin Poulsom for organising this.


So from the Youth Ministry Office, wishing you all a holy and blessed time of waiting this Advent,


Sue McDonald



Wednesday, 30 November 2016 15:46

Visit from Syro Malabar Bishop of Great Britain

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Prov BpSyroMalabar FrM FrK FrFrancois500


We were delighted to welcome Mar Joseph Srampickal, Syro Malabar Bishop of Great Britain, when he and Fr Francois visited Salesian Provincial House today,  to meet Fr Gerry O'Briody SDB, our Provincial.


Bishop Joseph's seat is at St Alphonsa Cathedral, Preston, (formerly St Ignatius' church), where there is a community of 120 families, and his Eparchy covers the 160 thriving Syro Malabar Mass centres throughout England, Wales and Scotland. The Eparchy of Great Britain was established in July 2016 by Pope Francis, and 12,000 people attended Bishop Joseph's ordination at Preston North End's Deepdale Stadium in October.


The Syro Malabar Church is one of the 22 Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome, and follows the East-Syrian liturgy which dates back to the 3rd century. The Church traces its origins to the mission of St Thomas the Apostle.


Pictured above, left to right, are: Fr Gerry SDB, Bishop Joseph, Frs Michael and Kieran SBD, and Fr Francois.


Find out more about the Syro Malabar Eparchy of Great Britain

Friday, 25 November 2016 00:47

First week of Advent: 'But only say the word ...'

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Advent1 2016

To begin our Advent journey, Fr Michael Winstanley reflects on today’s Gospel where Jesus responds to a plea for help from a Roman centurion. A pagan and a foreigner, he has faith in the Lord, and his words are those we now use to prepare for receiving Jesus in the Eucharist.


Matthew 8:5-11

This episode in Jesus’ ministry provides an excellent opening for the season of Advent. The Jesus whom we meet here is welcoming and brings healing. The centurion shows great trust. This combination is compelling and paradigmatic.
Following the traditional interpretation of the story, Jesus is clearly a man of authority. He is probably surprised at being approached for a cure by a Gentile. Unusual as this is, and contrary to the normal thrust of his ministry, he responds with great openness, even spontaneously volunteering to go to the centurion’s home in order to cure his servant. Clearly, such a visit was not part of the petitioner’s scenario. Jesus is prepared to incur ritual defilement in order to effect the healing, and does not baulk at the probability of incurring criticism and hostility from the townsfolk for his trouble. There is a remarkable freedom and openness about him. He publicly expresses his amazement at the man’s extraordinary faith. Adopting the alternative interpretation of the story, Jesus manifests his flexibility, his willingness to change his attitude when faced with strong faith. He generously acknowledges in public the faith he has encountered. It is the centurion’s faith which stands out from the narrative. He clearly believes in the power of Jesus to heal his servant; he trusts that his Gentile background will not prove an insurmountable obstacle. He is aware of his poverty and need. He shows humility in readily acknowledging his unworthiness to have Jesus under his roof. For him, a word from Jesus is enough.

In commenting so favourably on the Gentile’s faith, Jesus puts him forward as an exemplar. This is the case not only for the Jews of the town in which the encounter took place; it is true for us today. This is perhaps particularly so as we enter the season of Advent. There is something engaging and attractive about the man’s humble awareness that he has no rights and cannot demand a cure for his servant. Such poverty of spirit must be a characteristic when we approach Jesus with our hopes, dreams and needs. The man’s words, slightly adapted, have been included in the new form of our Eucharistic celebration prior to the reception of communion. Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed. They sum up the dispositions which are appropriate for our welcoming of the Lord into or hearts. They also express our trust in the love and acceptance of Jesus, and his power to heal and bring life to the whole of our being. They could be our Advent prayer mantra.


From An Advent Journey, Michael T Winstanley SDB pp: 15-16


Welcome the Word

For us, the word of Jesus, listened to with faith, is a source of spiritual life. It is food for prayer, light to see God’s will in the events of life, and strength to live our Salesian vocation faithfully. We try to welcome the word of Jesus as Mary did, and ponder it in our hearts, so that it will bear fruit in our lives and help us to live them with more energy.

Salesian Constitution 87


Monday, 14 November 2016 14:35

Salesian Spirituality Weekend 2016

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Join us at Savio House for an opportunity to deepen and develop an understanding of Salesian identity and have time for prayer and reflection. The weekend's theme is 'St Mary Mazzarello: Who's knocking at your door?'. Soo, Jessica, Martin and the team have got some fantastic input in store for you .

Start: Friday evening arrivals (where possible)
End: Sunday with lunch (unless you need to travel earlier)


Contact Sue McDonald as soon as possible to book your place.


Anita Morais


Signposts, a new Salesian programme, aims to support young adults (aged ​​18-35) in finding their path in life, and to equip them with the knowledge, skills and tools they need to make good choices. Weekend workshops to equip young adults with valuable decision-making skills will be held on 20-22 January and 21-23 April 2017, at Savio House, Cheshire.


In choosing 'Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment' as the theme of the next Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis has highlighted the importance of supporting young people as they find the path God is calling them to, and that's just what Signposts does. It is a programme for young adults who have some life experience but are facing a time of major choice, sometimes without any sense of overall direction. It is for people who want to meet life as an adventure but also want to stack the odds in their favour through wise decisions.


The one-off resdiential weekend offers a solid groundwork for good decision-making, where young adults are able to explore their personal decision-making process in depth. The weekend takes participants through a series of thinking modes that move towards identifying meaning and purpose in life. It also provides a toolkit for choice based on sound psychology and some insights from the eastern and western spiritual traditions. 


The residential weekend is one of three elements offered by Signposts, and people can take part in all of them, or choose those they feel best meet their needs. The team offers an introductory workshop of a couple of hours, which can be offered to existing young adult groups. This outlines the project and engages everyone in activities exploring how we make meaningful choices. Some people may have enough to take away with them from this single session, but the Signposts team hopes many will take up their invitation to a residential weekend, where they will be able to explore their personal decision-making process more deeply. After the residential weekend, participants may choose to take part in the third element, six months of individual guidance.


The Signposts residential weekend costs £40, and concessions are available. If you would be interested in booking onto the January or April weekend, or in learning more about what the Signposts programme offers, or if you would like to arrange an introductory workshop for your young adult group, please contact Anita Motha on 0207 139 8353 or email


Read more about Signposts


(ANS - Rome, 4 November 2016)  On 4 March 2016 a group of armed men attacked the house of the Missionaries of Charity in Aden, Yemen, killing 16 people, including 4 Sisters. At the time of the attack on the sisters’ house, an Indian Salesian priest, Fr Thomas Uzhunnalil, was present. As the hours passed it became clear that he had been abducted. Today, however, eight months later, we still have no definite news of him.

Many people were mobilised immediately on his behalf. Among those who had and still have a prominent role in the whole affair are the Indian Foreign Minister, Hon. Sushma Swaraj, the Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia, Msgr. Paul Hinder, and the Salesians of the Bangalore Province to which the Mission in Yemen belongs, in particular the Provincial, Fr Mathew Thonikuzhiyil, and the Secretary, Fr Mathew Valarkote.

Since that 4 March there has been no definite news of the fate of the Indian missionary. He is a nephew of Fr Mathew Uzhunnalil, the man who started the Salesian mission in Yemen. Rumours of all kinds began to circulate on the internet, especially around Easter. Fortunately they later proved to be unfounded.

Later, in July, images appeared on Fr Uzhunnalil’s Facebook page that seemed to portray him in a bad state of health, blindfolded and beaten. But the authenticity of those images was immediately questioned by those who knew him best, beginning with his confreres of the Province of Bangalore, and shortly thereafter the Facebook page was closed.

In the first few weeks there were countless appeals, vigils and demonstrations of sympathy and solidarity - by simple Christians, the Missionaries of Charity and many other men and women religious, the Conference of Bishops of Kerala State and of all India. Even the Pope appealed for his release on 10 April. The fact that nothing was happening meant that media attention naturally diminished.

This is why today, eight months after those tragic events and the kidnapping of Fr Uzhunnalil, the Salesian Congregation, starting from the Rector Major, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, once again calls for attention to remain focused on the condition of this missionary and asks all to continue to pray for him and for his release.


The Shrigley Old Boys held their reunion weekend at Savio House recently, with lunch at the former Salesian school, now Shrigley Hall Hotel, near Macclesfield. Old Boys and their wives & partners came from all over the UK and Ireland, and were joined by our Provincial, Fr Fr Gerry Briody SDB, and the Savio House team and community. Tom McCormick described the highlights for the Old Boys' blog.

As usual, Bro Michael Winstanley was there to welcome us just as he was when I was in the 60’s at Shrigley. After a delicious supper I unpacked while the earlybirds headed to Shrigley for just one drink with the Scottish contingent who were staying there.

On Saturday morning we were joined at mass by the new Salesian Provincial Fr Gerry Briody, a fantastic start to the day. We then headed down to the cemetery at Bollington, joined by Fr Provincial, for a very touching service with many personal memories. It was great to hear how the deceased Salesians and their memories and influence live on.

We then headed for lunch to Shrigley. It still seems very strange to approach through the new drive rather than the old via the gatehouse (which is still there). After a wander around the grounds (excluding the golf course), saying hello to St Patrick on his island, I was joined at lunch by Bro Michael and Fr Provincial. As usual conversation and memories proved to be very fruitful. We then headed for the afternoon meeting at which we had a very useful conversation with Fr Provincial on the future. Bernard as usual managed all of this with his enthusiasm of all things “Shrigley”. We then paid our traditional visit to the Cemetery at Shrigley (photo above). I must admit I missed Fr Albert’s thoughts on the residents. However they were well remembered by others who were there.

ShrigleyOldBoys Concert1-Oct2016

We then headed to Savio where we were treated to a curry before the main event:  “The Concert”, as only old Shrigley boys can put on (Concert Party pictured above). MC Martin McArthur, who could do the Oscars anytime provided the highlights of the weekend. Greg Bell along with a very dodgy piano provided and excellent musical accompaniment throughout the evening. Tony Quinn provided us with his own comic, Scottish version of Shakespeare which has to be heard to appreciated. Michael McManus minus his guitar provided us with some old tunes plus a very original song. One of the volunteers, Clara from Germany entertained us on the clarinet. Michael Pratter, another Scottish old boy, gave us a rendition of the Rolling Stones number Ruby Tuesday. Tony Galcius gave us a very moving extract from his autobiography, on his first impressions of Shrigley in 1941. The concert ended with usual sing song, the Salesian Hym and Auld Lang Syne.


The next Reunion will take place at Savio House on 8 - 10 September 2017


Read the full story on the Shrigley Old Boys blog


Learn more about the Salesians at Shrigley


We've been delighted to have Romina Martiniello, Assistant Director of the Cagliero Project, the Australian equivalent of our Bosco Volunteer Action, visiting us for a while. Here, she writes about a Mission Week workshop she and Anita (BOVA) led to help students explore the refugee crisis and our response.


What if you suddenly had to make a journey from Bolton to Paris, with only the possessions you had with you in your pockets? What if there were no cars, train, bus or plane services? What if you couldn’t go home first to tell your family where you are, or gather your most precious belongings? What if you had to walk for 10 days straight, in just the clothes you are wearing now?

These are some of the questions that year 8s and 9s were asked to contemplate during the Mission Week activities at Thornleigh Salesian College. Anita, of Bosco Volunteer Action (BOVA) and myself were asked to be a part of the week’s input by running a workshop aimed at shedding some light on the everyday experience of refugees in the world today. In our jobs, we send volunteers from the UK and Australia to overseas Salesian communities. Our volunteers work with young people in various educational and residential settings, most of whom experience one or many forms of poverty. Many refugees experience poverty as a result of circumstances that are thrust upon them, and often have a very limited support and resources available to them.

Thornleigh students had access to a resource which enabled them to walk through a series of small rooms while listening to an audio recording, recounting the experience of one refugee as she made the dangerous and terrifying journey from her home country to the UK. Through this sensory experience, students were able to reflect upon how it would feel to walk in the shoes of those who are forced to leave their homes and endure the hardship and uncertainty of seeking asylum.

As we asked students to literally empty their pockets onto the tables in front of them, many were hit with harsh realisations, many began to think creatively and many provided very thoughtful reflections on how they might act and feel if they suddenly had to leave their home and flee for safety.

It was important that the students felt as if there was a message of hope that they could take away from the activities and discussions in our workshop. Together, we reflected upon the call of Pope Francis for us to be politicians, thinkers, social activists and to “seek to encounter Jesus in the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, the friend in trouble, the prisoner, the refugee and the migrant.” It was not at all surprising that the young people at Thornleigh came up with innovative and overwhelmingly compassionate ways in which they could respond to the needs of refugees both overseas and in their communities.

It was a privilege to be a part of the sharing and learning at Thornleigh during Mission Week, and we look forward to hearing more about the other important issues that formed part of the discussion.

By Romina Martiniello
The Cagliero Project
Salesians of Don Bosco

Saturday, 29 October 2016 12:44

Feast of Blessed Michael Rua

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On 29th October, the anniversary of his beatification in 1972, we celebrate Blessed Michael Rua, the first successor to Don Bosco. This seems to have been a role the saint had in mind for him from the early days of their long association, when he puzzled the young Michael by telling him 'we two will go halves in everything'.


Blessed Michhael first met Don Bosco when he was a pupil at the de la Salle school, and Don Bosco was their much-loved chaplain. When he was 15, he joined the growing group of boys at the Oratory in Turin, and went on to be come a close collaborator in the formation of the Salesians.


A gifted administrator, he worked closely with Don Bosco, accompanying him on his travels, and took on many his repsonsibilities as the saint became ill towards the end of his life. As Rector Major, he was able to manage the rapid growth of the Salesians while maintaining the vision of Don Bosco. He travelled widely, visiting Salesian commumities as they grew around the world.


Blessed Michael was closely involved in establishing the Salesians of Don Bosco and Salesian Sisters in Britain, where the work was still in its early stages at the time he became Rector Major, and he visited Battersea several times. He used a legacy from Blessed Augustus Czartoryski, the Polish prince who became a Salesian. to help build the Sacred Heart church, and took a personal interest in the growth of the parish and school.


By the time of his death on 29th October 1910, the Society had grown from 773 to 4,000 Salesians, from 57 to 345 communities and from 6 to 34 Provinces in 33 countries around the world.


Read more about his life


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