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Sunday, 01 January 2017 10:42

A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR

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I wish the members of the Salesian Family every blessing as we celebrate the beginning of a new year.

May we hold onto what was good from the old year while welcoming the opportunity to begin again, so to speak, in the new!

May Don Bosco and Mary Help of Christians walk with all of us as we go forward in our life and our mission.

God Bless.

Fr Gerry Briody SDB - Provincial

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St Stephen's Day is a special one here in Battersea, as we give thanks for the service and dedication of all 50+ of our altar servers.

 

This year there was even more to celebrate with the induction of 4 new serves to the Guild of St Stephen and 4 being awarded their silver medals in recognition of 10yrs in the job!

 

Fr Gerry also gave thanks to Deacon Michael who this year celebrates 10 years of ordination! Michael has served the Sacred Heart community for a lot longer, and we are thankful for his commitment and love,  especially of and to our youngest parishioners.

 

Fr Gerry thanked everyone in the parish and wished them all a very happy season!

 

Br Ste Lloyd

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Tuesday, 27 December 2016 13:57

FR TOM UZHUNNALIL SDB

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(ANS - Rome) - On 24 December last a video was posted on YouTube in which Fr Tom Uzhunnalil appears, the Indian Salesian priest, missionary in Yemen, who was kidnapped on 4 March 2016 in Aden. From the images on the video the physical and mental state of health of the Salesian appear broken, nevertheless the video is primarily evidence that Fr Tom is alive.

The video is posted on a profile named "Saleh Salem" and lasts more than 5 minutes. On seeing it, Fr Tom’s confreres, the Salesians of Bangalore, observe that the face and the voice are those of the kidnapped Salesian.

In the video Fr Tom speaks in slow and hesitant language. In his state of isolation he appears unaware of the many efforts that the government authorities, the whole Church and humanitarian organizations are making for his release.

A confrere of the Province has said: "In any case this video is a reminder to the authorities of the Government and the Church to intensify their efforts to negotiate the release of Father Tom. Prayer is really powerful. If Fr Tom is still alive we owe it to the prayers of countless people around the world. Please continue to pray for Fr Tom’s welfare and security ... and also for world peace, the end of religious, cultural or social persecution in any country and for greater justice, to reduce corruption and ensure a more humane distribution of resources among all human beings. We have to push our leaders, global, national and regional, to work seriously towards these goals."

The Salesian Congregation, renewed in the hope of being able to welcome back our Confrere Fr Tom Uzhunnalil, continues to support the efforts for a successful conclusion of the story and again invites the whole Salesian Family to pray to ask God for the release of our Indian missionary.

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Sunday, 25 December 2016 10:40

A VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL

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I wish the members of the Salesian Family peace and joy at this time of Christmas.

Peace from faith that considers those less fortunate and respects differences.

Joy that recognises we belong and that we are loved and appreciated for who we are, not just for what we bring.

May Christmas be a time of sharing who we are and reflecting on who we might become.

Wishing you and your families every blessing.

Fr Gerry Briody SDB - Provincial

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The wonderful students at our schools embody the Salesian charism, and Christmas gives them the opportunity to reach out to their communities and share some festive cheer.

 

Students at Thornleigh College, Bolton, have worked hard for months to raise funds to host a party for local senior citizens who may be spending Christmas alone. Fundraising activities ranged from bag-packing to throwing wet sponges at form tutors, and Liverpool Victoria kindly chipped in £300 to ensure the party went with a seasonal swing.

 

Guests were treated to canapes, a full Christmas dinner, a gift and a free raffle, and the odd drop of champagne added to the festive spirit. Young people from all year groups helped to entertain everyone, and many guests stayed on for the Carol Concert.

 

Well done to staff and students at Thornleigh College, for your caring Christmas spirit!

 

See more on the College website

 

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By the end of term, staff and students at Savio Salesian College, Bootle, had earned their Christmas rest after a very hectic period of activities that focused on the true spirit of Christmas, helping those in need and taking time for reflection as well as having plenty of Christmas fun.

Last week, the school welcomed over 220 pensioners from the local deanery to enjoy an afternoon of festive food an

d drink with entertainment from the pupils. The guests were waited on by Year 11 pupils, who were, as always, a credit to the school and the Salesian Family.

The Christmas Appeal for Shoe Boxes for the Homeless of Liverpool saw the school collecting toiletries which will be distributed to the homeless by the Liverpool's Whitechapel Centre Liverpool.


Savio is a strong supporter of Jospice (St Joseph's Hospice), which is the only Catholic hospice in Liverpool, and one of the first in the country. Each year, the school raises over £1000 to support the work and mission of this vital resource to the people of Bootle and the rest of Merseyside, and they have been busy with the Christmas Teddy & Light up a Life badge sale this year, as well as making fundraising fun with the Reindeer Romp, where each pupil makes a donation to Jospice and completes two laps of the special Reindeer Romp course!

Pupils were able to sit back and be entertained by the Senior Leadership Team and the Chaplaincy Team performing a 'Savio' version of A Christmas Carol for them.

A very successful week of Year 11 Retreats ended on Wednesday, giving the pupils the opportunity to reflect on the incarnation, and the term ended yesterday with the Christmas liturgy for all pupils.

We hope the students, staff and families at Savio and all the Salesian schools have a peaceful, safe and joyful Christmas, and return refreshed in January.

 

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Thursday, 22 December 2016 14:50

January Sale at Don Bosco Publications

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For the first seven days in January, Don Bosco Publications is offering one book each day at HALF PRICE!

 

The offer is not available for online orders, but we will announce each book here on our website and on social media, and you can call or email to buy your books at the special price.

 

Watch this space, and then contact Sarah or Bernadette at Don Bosco Publications: publications@salesians.org.uk 01204 308811.

Advent4 2016

 

In this final week of Advent, we can be overwhelmed by ‘busyness’ as we make our final preparations to celebrate Christmas. We can feel stressed and anxious, and our spiritual lives can be neglected as we become too immersed in doing the practical. Even though our intentions are well-meant, we can lose sight of the fact that God needs to be at the centre of all this. Fr Michael Winstanley offers some reflections on the balance between activity and listening to the Lord, by considering busy Martha.

 

Luke 10: 38-42 - Martha and Mary

 

Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’

 

Reflection


Martha has a problem. The pressure of hospitality, as she understands it, prevents her from listening, which she doubtless would have appreciated and enjoyed. She is distracted by all the serving. The verb means pulled or dragged away. There is too much to do. She probably feels rather peeved that she has been left to do everything herself and maybe thinks her sister is being rather selfish.


There are two aspects to discipleship: there is service and kindness and practical living; and there is listening to Jesus, hearing the word of the Lord. As Caird puts it so well, ‘Martha has not yet learned that unselfishness, service, and even sacrifice can be spoiled by self-concern and self-pity, that good works which are not self-forgetful can become a misery to the doer and a tyranny to others.’


‘Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.’ … The good or better part, portion or dish (a little wordplay is evident here), the thing which is most essential, the right choice, is to make space for Jesus, and to listen. Such listening shapes and enlivens our active caring. Johnson writes that the one thing necessary for hospitality is attention to the guest. ‘If the guest is a prophet, the appropriate reception is listening to God’s word’. In the scale of values, it is listening to the word which has priority.

 

When there is a clash of priorities, it tends to be prayer which is jettisoned. Without times of prayer in which we listen to God’s love … we run the risk of building our own kingdoms rather than that of Jesus.

 

Prayer suggestion


We can reflect on a typical day or week and examine the rhythm of our lives, our integration of prayer and action. … We could attempt to wear the sandals of Martha, then of Mary, and finally of Jesus in the scene in their house, and try to enter into their feelings.


References: GB Caird, St Luke, Pelican, London 1963 p150
LT Johnson,The Gospel of Luke, Collegeville, The Liturgical press 1991 p175

From: Don Bosco’s Gospel Way, Michael T Winstanley SDB pp 66-68

 

 

Saturday, 17 December 2016 11:21

Signposts team takes its workshop to Wales

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Anita and Julia went to Aberystwyth this week to run a Signposts workshop for a CathSoc group. The workshop introduces the Signposts project and engages you adult participants (aged 18-35) in activities exploring how we make meaningful choices, and got the group thinking about how they can unlock their own potential.

 

The team is excited about taking the  take the introductory workshop to more locations, and is very keen to  hear from any groups of young adults who want to explore strategies for making good choices in life. While this one-off session of a couple of hours will meet the needs of some participants on its own, the team offers an invitation to join them for a residential weekend, where they will be able to explore their own decision-making process more deeply, and hopes many people will take up this opportunity too.

 

The first Signposts residential weekend will be held at Savio House from 20-22 January 2017, but if you miss that, don't worry - there's another coming along on 21-23 April 2017. (You don't have to do a workshop first).

 

The weekend offers a solid groundwork for good decision-making, where young adults are able to explore their personal decision-making process in depth, and they are taken 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.

 

Contact Anita by email or phone 0207 139 8353 for more information about the Signposts weekends or the workshops.

 

Booking forms for the weekends are available for download here

 

Read more about Signposts

Wednesday, 14 December 2016 16:38

Thornleigh students & Bosco the Bunny at Savio House

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A group of students from Thornleigh Salesian College, Bolton, enjoyed a visit to our youth retreat centre, Savio House, recently - with a furry friemd!

On a rather damp and wet Friday afternoon 16 excited students, 4 enthusiastic staff and one Bosco the bunny, trouped off to Savio house for our first ever joint pupil chaplaincy and St Francis garden residential retreat.

With the weekend focusing on working together and team building we built new relationships with people in other year groups, we spent time working together, even drawing with pens on string. However, the highlight of our morning was building our own BOSCO dominos that stretched all the way across the main hall and even had the Salesian symbol in it.

We spent some time in the countryside visiting White Nancy and hearing the story of the white monument on top of the hill.

Mass was prepped and celebrated by Fr Tony, it was the second Sunday of Advent and the prayers and readings reflected this.

But the culmination of the day’s work was spent wrapped up in duvets watching the Polar Express with hot chocolate and marshmallows on top.

The weekend was once again another shining success of the student leadership within the Chaplaincy and RE department, and the growing involvement of students within the department.

From the Thornleigh College website

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Wednesday, 14 December 2016 15:43

An Advent visit to Makuyu

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Fr Francis Preston SDB sends us news from Don Bosco Utume, Kenya. He is pictured above with Fr Denis and with two of the Sisters.

 

Every weekend the students from Don Bosco Utume travel to various parishes in and around Nairobi to assist at the parish liturgies and to help with the animation of the young people. At the beginning of Advent, two of the students, Charles and Tamil, invited me to accompany them to their weekend apostolate at the Salesian community and parish at Makuyu, a small town about 40 miles north of Nairobi.


The journey to Makayu proved to be quite an adventure. It was the first time that I had driven through central Nairobi on a Saturday afternoon. There are traffic lights but nobody seems to obey them. Consequently negotiating the major intersections is not for the fainthearted! I breathed a sigh of relief when we safely exited the city and were on the three lane highway heading north out of Nairobi. What I wasn’t expecting were the speed humps across all three lanes of the highway at a distance every four or five miles. I’m told they’re there to allow pedestrians to cross safely! I can only guess what wear and tear they must do to the cars and lorries using the highway.


The Salesians have a big compound at Makuyu. It contains one SDB and two FMA communities. The SDBs are responsible for the parish which has 18 outstations and a large technical school which teaches several trades including a large printing press, a secondary school, a hostel for boarders and a farm. One of the FMA communities runs another secondary school and a health clinic. The other community is a formation community for FMA aspirants and pre-novices from East Africa.


On our arrival at Makuyu Charles, Tamil and myself were given a very warm welcome by the bursar of the SDB community, Fr Dennis Bisonga. Dennis was a 1st Year student in Jerusalem during my last year there. At Dennis’ request I celebrated the Saturday evening Mass in English for the Salesian Sisters. On the Sunday morning I joined Dennis for the 9.30 a.m. Mass in Swahili in the parish church. It was a very joyful occasion. The singing was beautiful and the offertory procession included a whole variety of gifts from candles and soap to pineapples which are a local speciality.


After the parish Mass Charles drove Tamil and myself about four five miles along a couple of dirt roads to the convent of the Catechist Sisters of Mary Immaculate. The Sisters were founded in 1948 in northern India by Salesian missionary, Bishop Louis Morrow. They are part of the Salesian Family and wear a distinctive white sari very much like that of the Sisters of Mother Teresa. The Sisters have several communities in Tanzania but the community near Makuyu is their first in Kenya. They have just completed the building of a clinic and dispensary and a primary school, both of which they are planning to open in early 2017. The Sisters made us very welcome and insisted that we join them for lunch – thankfully a very mild curry! I have promised to return in the New Year and celebrate Mass for them in their convent chapel.


Back at main compound we paid a short visit to greet the Salesian Sisters and then said our goodbyes to Fr Dennis and the SDB community. It was then time to take the road back to Don Bosco Utume via Nairobi city centre – much quieter on a Sunday afternoon! - for the start of the last week of lectures and the beginning of end of semester exams.

Friday, 09 December 2016 15:33

Third week of Advent: Welcoming new life

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During Advent, Mary and Joseph waited for the birth of their child, in difficult and dangerous circumstances. Around the world today, many new parents also face great difficulties, as we see in this extract from Fr David O'Malley's 'Trust the Road'. Preparing to welcome a new life involves making big changes to ourselves and the way we do things. Advent allows us to reflect on our own lives, and consider what we can do to make a fresh start with the child Jesus.

 

My best friend became a dad today.


He’s totally confused. He’s a dad and he’s proud of it from his macho haircut down to his size ten feet. There are tears in his eyes and he’s buying drinks tonight for everyone. I hope he has a lot more children! I can see him trying to be tough and literally shrug it off as he talks to the barman. But as he turns round I can see the pride glowing like a nuclear reactor inside him. He keeps talking about it, describing his tiny new son to anyone who will listen. My best friend has changed a lot.


Later on that night I drove him back to his place for a coffee and he showed me the cot and the clothes waiting for the return of mother and son from hospital. We sat and talked about the wonder of it all. What would his baby turn out to be? What kind of dad would he want to be in the years ahead?


For a few minutes we sat in silence, soaking up the new sense of responsibility that was seeping into his life. Adjusting to a new focus that was already more important than anything else that had happened.


I sat thinking about how he had changed over the last few weeks. The worry, the false alarms and the increasing need to be at home; all marked the beginning of a new adventure in his life. The sports-club tough man had been tamed by a little baby. It was his own Christmas story, a difficult birth at a tough time with all the uncertainty of what it might mean. But it was a new birth for him too. Something new was born in him that night, a new pride, a new gentleness and determination to live out his responsibilities. I was immensely proud of him and equally envious of the joy and peace he radiated that night when he became a dad.


From Trust the Road, David O’Malley SDB p 25

 

Waiting on the Road


Waiting …
Waiting for the kettle to boil,
Waiting for the phone to ring,
the end of the day,
the mark for the essay,
the next bus,
the pay cheque.
We wait for letters,
for holidays,
for signs of friendship,
for promotion,
for the end of term,
for forgiveness.
We wait for everything that is really worth having.
We wait to be born,
For love to touch us,
for life to grow,
for healing of hurts,
for a turning point in the road.
Lord, teach us to wait on your wisdom, on your timing and on your methods.
Help us to surrender our self-importance to the freedom of trusting you.

From Trust the Road, David O’Malley SDB p 94

 

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