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Thursday, 09 March 2017 22:07

Savio House retreat for Catholic-Anglican Academy

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The group at White Nancy - Photo: Academy of St Francis of Assissi /Liverpool Echo

Savio House, our Youth Retreat Centre in Bollington, Cheshire, recently facilitated a retreat for a group of 27 Year 10 students from the Academy of St Francis of Assisi, a Catholic-Anglican school in Liverpool.

Wednesday, 08 March 2017 10:25

Whirlwind of a weekend for Salesian Youth Ministry

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This weekend, the youth ministry department held the 2nd meeting of the year for our Salesian animators. We began with an input and sharing session on the preparation document for XV General Assembly of the Ordinary Synod of Bishops taking place in October 2018. The theme for this Assembly will be “Young people, faith and vocational discernment.”

Wednesday, 22 February 2017 13:22

Salesian Youth Ministry Easter Retreat 2017

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The Youth Ministry Easter Triduum retreat at Savio House takes place from Holy Thursday 13th April, until Easter Sunday 16th April and is open to anyone aged 17 and over.



Have a peek at the slideshow above from Easter 2015 to see what it's all about. 


Places are limited, so please contact Sue McDonald as soon as possible for more information or to book a place.

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

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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




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


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

Signposts is a Salesian project  for young adults (18-35) 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 Signposts team is really excited at how things are developing, so we'd like to tell you more about the project - and ask for your help.


What does the programme involve?


An introductory workshop: A one-off event of a couple of hours that introduces the project and engages young adult participants (aged ​​18-35) in activities exploring how we make meaningful choices. Some people may have enough to take away with them from just this session, but we hope mamy participants will take up our invitation to join us for a residential weekend, where they will be able to explore their own decision-making process more deeply.

A residential weekend: We guide participants through the six Signposts stages (Ownership, Imagination, Valuing, Analysing, Synthesising) and provide a 'tool-kit for choice' offering a structure for the discernment process. Again, this may be enough to equip some particpants with all they need, but we also offer a third stage.

Individual guidance: The final stage offers individual support taking participants through the six signpost stages over a six month period with the aim of guiding participants to move forward in their own discernment. 

So, get in touch if you:

  • Would like to arrange a workshop to introduce your young adult group to the Signposts concept
  • Don't belong to a group, but would like to come to our open workshop on 29th November




Want to get involved in supporting the Signposts project?

We need your help to grow the project and develop our online presence:

  • Download our flyer and display it at your parish, college or group
  • Tell people aboout Signposts in your newsletters & on social media
  • Follow and retweet us on Twitter: @Signposts4life
  • Share useful resources with us on life choices, discernment and vocation for young adults
  • Contribute articles, videos, activities, photos for the resource area we're developing on our website
  • Pray for the project as it evolves this year




We're looking forward to hearing from you!

Anita Morais
Signposts Project Development Team




Friday, 26 August 2016 12:05

RISE: Young Salesian Leaders' Summer Camp 2016

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David McCormick, one of the Rise volunteers, takes us through the first part of this year’s week-long event for the Salesian leaders of the future


For the second year, some of our youth ministry volunteers gave part of their summer to running the Rise summer camp at Savio House, Bollington.  Rise was created for young people leaving secondary education in years 11 to 13, aiming to provide training and experience to aid them in their lives, offering valuable leadership, communication and youth work skills. The intention is that the young people involved with this camp will then join our Salesian Youth Ministry group, and become involved in other projects in the future. It's an exciting project to be part of. 

Our week together started with volunteers gathering on Monday morning in order to make sure everything was in place for the arrival of our young people later on in the day. The first of our arrivals was a group of boys from Salesian College, Farnborough, with young people from St. Joe’s, Horwich, and All Hallows, Preston joining us slightly later on, to complete our community.

The idea of community was built on almost immediately, as the group were given time to make themselves feel at home, before we started with an introduction to what the Rise Summer camp actually is, and of course, an introduction to Don Bosco. Following this, we had our first session together, with the young people and team taking part in a series of team building challenges, offering varying levels of difficulty and fun with each one. Even from this very early point in the week, it was clear to see that the energy was going to be very high, with even those from the team who had come straight on to the week from other summer camps, or pilgrimage, finding energy and encouragement from the rest of the group.

This encouragement was something that continued in to our second day together, which saw the group focus on communication, team work, and youth work skills. All of these things involved us “competing” with each other at some point, with the overall goal of getting us working together. The morning saw us focus on our communication, which boded well for the main part of our day, as we headed to Venture Out activity centre. Here, we took part in more team activities, as two groups. Again, the tasks were all very, very different, but were all equally as challenging. The varying skill sets of the group were put on display throughout this part of the day, with all of us excelling in different activities to other people within the group.

The latter part of our afternoon out saw us all getting a chance to swim about in the River Mersey for a while, as we went raft building. Again, this activity was team based, as we were split in to two teams in order to race across the small section of river on the rafts that we had to build in our teams. Despite almost everybody, if not everybody, ending up in the water, it was clear that all of the group thoroughly enjoyed this part of the day, and the team spirit was exceptionally high throughout.
Our final session gave the young people a chance to think about some youth work skills that could be useful – an activity that was also helpful to the volunteers ‘ own development as youth workers. The task involved groups, straws, a lot of small pieces of paper, and very little breath at the end, but taught us all a very important lesson – what is not said is equally as important as what is said. The conclusion of this session saw the young people challenged to come up with their very own Salesian Goodnight for the group, which was delivered excellently around our campfire.

On Wednesday, the group were introduced to two different styles of leading, following in the examples of Don Bosco, and Mamma Margaret. Although a very insightful session, there was also plenty of fun to be had, with two volunteers from the group being blindfolded, and basically told to dress themselves in items of clothing that had been laid around the room. The group were given the opportunity to discuss the difficulties that they faced during this game, and how easy they felt it to lead others. The group were then given plenty of time for reflection, moving forward in the day, as we went into our self-awareness and development session. Here, they were given the chance to think back on events that have happened in their lives already, and consider what advice they would give their younger selves, before looking forward and thinking about their dreams for the future. Wednesday also saw us head to Crosby beach for our Emmaus walk, after a trip to the Salesian community in Bootle, for the young people to be given the chance to engage with more people in the Salesian family.

With two days still remaining on our summer camp, and a lot to do, there is still the same energy within the group that was present at the start, however, the sense of community is now even stronger than it was following our first few team challenges. The group will continue to be pushed, and challenged as we go through the week, with us heading to Manley Mere on Thursday, where the young people will learn how to carry out a full risk assessment, as well as having plenty of fun, and getting very muddy.

So, at the halfway point of our week, we have shared a lot of joy, and there has been a lot of insight, both for and from the young people. Nothing that has been asked of any of these young people has been too much, and they are definitely the kind of young people Pope Francis talked of during World Youth Day, the kind who go out and do things, and look to make a difference, and our youth ministry group would be enriched to have any, if not all of these young people joining us in the years to come as volunteers themselves.


David McCormick

Rise Volunteer





Thursday, 11 August 2016 14:08

Leaving your mark in this world - A WYD refelection

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Lizbeth Cabral was part of the Salesians GBR group at World Youth Day in Krakow. Here, she considers the message Pope Francis had for young people, and his challenge to ‘leave your mark’.  (Photo: Salesian Sisters UK)


The only event to unite all the youth under one faith, Catholicism, has come and gone. From the 25th to 31st of July, young people, regardless of culture, language, or nationality, came together under the guidance of Pope Francis to celebrate God’s mercy. BłoniaPark and Campus Misercordiae, in Krakow, Poland, were witness to the Pope’s message of hope and mercy to the young people.

Pope Francis praised and recognised the young for their energy, resilience, and capacity to change the world. However, he did not stop there. He is a wise man who is in touch with reality and recognises that despite their versatility there are still obstacles and problems facing the youth. He not only praised and recognised their talents he also called them out and warned them about present day evils that cut their potential short.


On his first encounter with the youth, on 28th in Blonia Park, Pope Francis lamented the fact that many young people enter into an “early retirement.” Referring to the young that “are defeated even before they begin to play, who walk around gloomy as is life has no meaning.” He laments the fact that today a great part of the youth fails to get involved, to criticise, and to challenge. Instead they “waste their lives looking for thrills or a feeling of being alive by taking dark paths and in the end having to pay for it.


“These young people are bored and boring … they waste the best days of their lives chasing false illusions, empty promises … This is dangerous because they fail to truly live … they fail to leave their mark in the world … instead, they lose their freedom; they lose their purpose of living.”


In his address at the World Youth Day Prayer Vigil at Campus Misericordiae, the Pontiff continued to awaken the conscience of the youth. He warned about other evils that force the young into an “early retirement.” He spoke of the dangers of fear which “only leads to one thing: the feeling of being closed in on oneself, trapped”. He also spoke of fear’s twin sister, “paralysis”. Together, they lead to the belief that “in this world, in our communities, in our cities, there is no longer any room to grow, to dream, to create, to gaze at new horizons. This paralysis prevents us from sharing with others, making friends, and waking with others side by side.”


Once again we lose our purpose of living. We are no longer living or leaving a mark instead we are living dead. The paralysis caused by fear confines us to our comfort zone. We are displeased to meet or even help people that do not look like us. Fear makes us indifferent to their suffering. We turn our backs to our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted for sharing our own faith. Fear prevents us from seeing them as victims. We treat them as a threat instead.


According to Pope Francis there is another even more dangerous kind of paralysis, “sofa happiness.” This type of paralysis occurs when we confuse happiness with the comfort of a sofa. “A sofa that promises us hours of comfort so that we can escape to the world of video games and spend all kinds of time in front of a computer screen. A sofa that keeps us safe from any type of pain and fear.” Sofa happiness can truly strip us of our freedom. Its comfort slowly dulls and numbs us. We are like the frog who is placed inside a pot of tepid water and whose temperature is gradually raised. The cold-blooded amphibian adapts to its outside temperature therefore when the water temperature is gradually raised the frog will adjust its temperature to the water. The frog does not figure out what it's going on until it is too late. It's unable to jump out because it has wasted all its energy adjusting its temperature. Very soon the frog dies inside the pot. We are the frog, the couch is the pot and video games are the tepid water. They numb us. They prevent us from living our reality; from questioning the decisions made on our behalf. We are more interested in what our favourite celebrity wore to the award show rather than on the laws that our policy maker enacted on that day.


If we don't jump out of the pot before it is too late we are going to end up like the frog, boiled. We need to leave the comfort of our couch and venture out into the world. We need to inform ourselves and criticise our policy makers’ actions. We need to dare to dream and to leave our mark in this world. The raising temperature of the water can already be felt. Is a politician who preaches hate, racism, and divisions truly the best candidate for a presidency? Is opting out of a partnership with other countries because of fear of rising immigration the best for a country? Is turning our back on refugees the best for humanity? All of these are decisions that affect our future but we do not bother to stand up and express our opinion on what's best for us because the comfort of our sofas seems more appealing.


Pope Francis urges us to trade the comfort of our sofa for a pair of walking shoes. He urges us to follow Jesus into uncharted paths, to “ take the path of our God who encourages us to be politicians, thinkers, social activists.”


We need to take charge of our life and be the protagonist of our history. Only we can decide for ourselves. God want us to leave a mark in life. This is what it means to truly live, to truly experience life and reality.


Despite all the temptations that are consuming us, Pope Francis still believes in us and is calling on us to help. Adults want us to believe that closing ourselves is the best way to protect ourselves from what hurts us; however, we can teach them that this is not the case. We can teach the adults to live in harmony alongside different cultures. We can teach them that, “it is easier to build bridges and not walls”. Our young, energetic, and merciful hearts can build a bridge of fraternity by extending our hand to someone who does not look like us; can teach adults to leave behind the thoughts of separation and nonsense.


Pope Francis’s message was one of mercy, compassion, acceptance, and fraternity. It helped me realise that the church has a big role to play in the twenty-first century. As followers of Jesus it is our duty to denounce any injustice. It is our duty to replace any signs of exclusion with fraternity. As Pope Francis mentioned, God wants us to build bridges by extending our hand to our fellow brothers and sisters.


This it what it means to leave a mark in this world. This is what God expects from us. Jesus left us the example. He did not exclude Zachaeus, the tax collector. He did not reject Mary Magdalene, a woman of doubtful reputation. To the contrary, he extended a hand towards them and included them in his plan of salvation. In times of exclusion and fear of one another, it is the job of the church to spread and take this message to heart.


I got the message; I want to leave a mark behind. I will start by evaluating my self and then extending my hand to my fellow brothers and sisters.


How will you leave your mark in this world?




Wednesday, 03 August 2016 14:01

Over 1600 students visited Savio House this year

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Pictured: The Savio House Team with a youth retreat group at White Nancy, Bollington


Recently, our year together came to an end at Savio House, with the departure of our volunteers and Br Łukasz going home to Poland. It has been an amazing year filled with laughter, fun and friendship and we have been able to share it with over 1600 students who have visited Savio this year on retreat.

We would like to thank the staff from each of the 26 schools who gave up their time and put in all he background work to bring students on retreat: we truly appreciate all the work you put in. We would also like to thank all the people who have answered our calls for assistance and have given up their time to help us throughout the year. We won’t name them in case we forget anyone – but you know who you are.

We are lucky this year as Kazzi and Laia have truly entered into the Salesian spirit and have volunteered further to work on summer projects through Salesian Youth Ministry.

Finally we would like to thank all of the retreat team for all the hard work they have done throughout the year. The mission of Savio House would not be possible without the team and words cannot express our gratitude.

We would ask you to keep each of them in your prayers as they move forward to the next stage of their journeys.


Emma Jarvis
Savio House


The 2016 Team outside Savio House with a student retreat group



The amazing Savio House Team, 2016

See Savio House on Flickr for more photos of their work this year

Thursday, 21 July 2016 13:25

Salesian YM counting down to World Youth Day

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The nineteen Salesian Youth Ministry pilgrims are making their final preps and checks ready to set off for the 31st World Youth Day in Krakow.


One of the many highlights of the pilgrimage will be the International Salesian Festival, where our group will also meet up with the 21 young adults from All Saints, Sheffield, who took part in the GBR Salesians WYD preparation day.


The Festival will be held on 27th July at the EXPO fair site, with Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, Rector Major of the SDB, and Mother Yvonne Reungoat, Mother General of the FMA attending, and giving the 'Good Night' at the end of the evening of spirituality.


We wish them a safe journey and pray for them and all the WYD2016 pilgrims during this life-changing experience.



The Salesian and All Saints pilgrims during the training day at Savio House

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