The opening ceremony
Archbishop Peter Smith and Fr Martin Coyle SDB
Every feast of Don Bosco is a great day of celebration for the Salesians and Salesian Family, for every Salesian Parish and School, but Don Bosco’s Day in 2016 was particularly special in Battersea.
This weekend saw the completion of the building and the opening of the new Salesian House and the re-launch of the Salesian Mission after 128 years. It was the final stage in a comprehensive re-development of the buildings and facilities in Battersea: first the new facilities attached to the Sacred Heart Parish, then the new build for St John Bosco College, and now a new home for the Salesian Community.
The vision for this new development comes from Don Bosco’s ‘Oratory Model’, where he wanted every Salesian house and work to be a home, a school, a church and a playground.
There is a real sense of a ‘new beginning’ and of an opportunity to ‘build new bridges in Battersea’ around this project and the new facilities available. It is a chance to begin again, to cross the traditional boundaries of home, school and church, and to work together for the benefit of young people. It is also a great opportunity to break out of those traditional buildings and reach out to all people in the spirit of Pope Francis’s ‘Missionary Church’.
The principal guests at the opening ceremony were Archbishop Peter Smith (Southwark) who blessed the new house, Fr Michael Casey SDB (Provincial of Ireland), Jane Ellison, MP for Battersea, Balham and Wandsworth, Cllr Mrs Tessa Strickland and Bishop Howard Tripp (retired).
Provincial, Fr Martin Coyle SDB
The Headteacher of St John Bosco College, Mr Simon Uttley, offered the Salesian Family some guidance for their journey into the future:
Set out slowly and together
Make plans and maps as you go
So that you can connect with your past.
Allow yourselves time and freedom to explore
The world is full of new possibilities.
Do not be afraid to disagree
Better to argue than have a sullen silence.
Take time to build bridges of friendship as you go
Rather than rush into anxious activity.
Leave time to study and reflect
So that you can build bridges of understanding.
Open up new pathways for ordinary spirituality
And let it spring up in life’s experiences
As water springs up in the desert.
Let home, school, playground and church
Be the building blocks of new bridges in Battersea
Opening up new reasons for living and hoping.
Let young people be your burning bush
As you search for the wisdom of God.
Let their needs and their gifts guide your hearts and minds.
Above all else, travel as friends
Listen to each other, learn from each other
Forgive one another and have fun!
Create a network of loving kindness here in Battersea
A network that builds strong bridges and wise boundaries.
And let this new beginning deepen your knowledge and wisdom and resilience as you follow the path of the Gospel into the unknown.
The 150 guests were delighted with a wonderful dance presentation from students from Thornleigh Salesian College, Bolton who interpreted the theme of building bridges with a performance titled ‘Safe and Sound’.
The Easter edition of the Salesian Bulletin, ‘Don Bosco Today’ will reflect on the new Battersea Mission, and photographs from the weekend will shortly appear on the Salesianlink Flickr account.
Text – Martin Coyle SDB, David O’Malley SDB and Bob Gardner SDB
Photos – SalesianLink/LEGG, GARDNER and Cristiana Ferrauti