This summer will see the completion of new Salesian buildings in Battersea. St John Bosco College is due to open in late September moving from its temporary home in Wandsworth. The Salesian community house has been re-built almost exactly on the site of its predecessor- Surrey House. Sacred Heart Parish is also enjoying a newly built parish centre alongside the church. In each of these three areas old and new are being blended into an on-going story of Salesian commitment to Battersea.
The newness of this development may not be obvious from the buildings alone which occupy the same traditional spaces as before. What is new is the way that these three elements of the Salesian presence will be able to work together to create a visible example of Salesian work as a home, a school, a playground and a church. Each of these buildings will be interconnected by pathways and form a family of buildings around the playground which lies at the heart of the Salesian site. That arrangement echoes the layout of Don Bosco's own foundation in Valdocco in Turin. In a visible way this re-development will become don Bosco's home in London.
The school, the parish and the community are now in the process of exploring how to bring together a sense of shared commitment to young people, how to make plans and work with other groups in the local area. Each area has its own priorities but each has a common concern to be a home, a school, a playground and a church for those involved. The school will welcome a comprehensive range of young people and will offer special help to young managing the challenges of the autistic spectrum. The Salesian house will offer a venue for learning about Salesian spirituality and single overnight accommodation for small youth groups as well as longer term accommodation for international Salesian students. The parish will continue to build on the involvement of youth in parish life and the importance of catechesis with all age groups.
Gathered around a playground, this church school and home will work to make Don Bosco's spirit live on in London.