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NOW Fest3


Ten students from St John Bosco Arts College in Liverpool are set to perform a moving performance at this year’s NOW Festival, held during Children’s Mental Health Week.

The performance is part of the Merseyside Youth Association’s NOW Festival, taking place at Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre on Friday 10 February.

After the success of the inaugural NOW Festival in 2016, NOW 17 will feature performances from Liverpool young people, all telling stories that tackle issues related to mental health.

Coinciding with Children’s Mental Health Week (6-12 February), St John Bosco’s performance will use dance, theatre and film to explore post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the effect it can have on a child.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events. Someone with PTSD often relives the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks, and may experience feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt.

The performance piece is titled, ‘Me, myself and the battle inside’ and will be performed by students Ellie Mulhall, Lucy Soper, Rebecca Duckworth, Klaudia Biernacka, Megan Garrett, Beth Dixon, Alisha Hyland, Malika Basanmay, Amaya Djari and Lily Richardson.

The synopsis of the piece reads: ‘Here we tell the story of a simple girl, facing inner demons in her own world. Feeling rejected and tangled with woe. Our story begins and has a long way to go. It’s important to remember help is at hand but to fight this battle first you must understand.’

Pauline Ellison, faculty head of Performing Arts at St John Bosco, says: “The NOW Festival is a fantastic experience for our students to come together and gain a greater awareness of mental health. Through the creative medium of dance, theatre and film, our talented dance company have learnt new skills and choreographed a unique piece which explores PTSD. They are very excited to perform on Friday and showcase their piece at the Festival.”

Darren Gidman Headteacher, says: “This project is a wonderful opportunity for students and the school to take part in and will plant the seeds for school development in this area”

Working with guest artists Darren Suarez; Paul Furlong, Maurice Bessman; and Carl Cockram; along with Merseyside Youth Association and the Liverpool CAMHS partnership, young people from 21 Liverpool schools and youth organisations will showcase a mixture of original live performances and films around the subject of ‘Mental Health & the Rights of the Child’.

Dr Simon Bowers, NHS Liverpool CCG clinical vice chair, adds: “Projects like the NOW festival are important as they help raise awareness of some of the pressures affecting young people’s mental health and can inspire others to ask for help.

“The continuing partnership between schools, voluntary groups and health providers means that mental health conditions can be addressed earlier, and families are supported as young people enter adulthood.”


Photo and text: Foundry Agency

Friday, 10 February 2017 17:26

Farnborough prepares for HCPT Pilgrimage

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On Saturday 4th February, Year 12 students from Salesian College Farnborough spent the day rehearsing for liturgies during the HCPT Easter Pilgrimage to Lourdes.

This year the West Country Region is responsible for providing music for the Trust Mass in the Underground Basilica, Torchlight Procession and other events during the week. As they are a small region, without a large youth group, they called on Salesian College to provide extra support. Girls from nearby Alton Convent School also took part. Regular instrumentalists of the HCPT core music team were joined by a Salesian sixth former who is a Diploma level clarinettist.

In addition to forming the chorus of singers, Salesian students started work on liturgical movement which will illustrate the Pilgrimage theme, ‘Come to the Water’. (Photo bleow)




The Salesian Community in Farnborough was also involved as several members of the HCPT team stayed in Valdocco House and Saint John Bosco House for bed and breakfast over the weekend.

This year, This year, HCPT group 711 from Salesian College will include 60 Year 12 students and 19 members of staff. The Easter Pilgrimage to Lourdes is a highlight of the spiritual life of the school.


Fr Patrick Sherlock SDB, College Chaplain



Friday, 10 February 2017 15:42

Savio Salesian students support local hospice

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Savio Cheque Presentation small

 Students (l-r); Michael, Kieron, Megan and Beth with teachers (l-r); Mrs Harrison, Mr Kearney, Salesian Provincial Fr Gerry Briody SDB

and Mr Bennett donating their latest cheque of £445 to with Laura Smith, community fundraiser at St Joseph's Hospice.


Students and teachers from Savio Salesian College, in Bootle, have been dedicated to raising money for patients at St Joseph’s Hospice, on one of the oldest hospices in the country, and have raised in the region of £5,000 since their fundraising began. 

Students at the college have developed some innovative ways of fundraising for the hospice and they have even donated their own pocket-money to this very worthy cause.

An annual event in the school is the 'Reindeer Romp' which is held at Christmas time. All 500 students and teachers make a donation to the hospice before completing two laps of the school site wearing Reindeer antlers. Students love the combination of having fun while at the same time supporting the work of the hospice. The students also sold 250 St. Joseph’s Hospice teddies and over 150 Light up a Life badges last term.

Mike Bennett, Associate Assistant Headteacher and Head of RE, explains why the school is dedicated to supporting and fundraising for the hospice: “Over 70 per cent of hospice patients are from the Bootle area and so most of our staff and students have a personal connection to the hospice.

“The mission of the hospice’s founder, Father O’Leary, has always struck a chord with our students

 and staff and the work of the hospice has become a cause that is very important to our whole school community.

“Our Reindeer Romp has become a part of our school calendar and is very popular with all of our students. It’s great fun and is the perfect way to raise money in the run up to Christmas.”




Laura Smith, Community Fundraiser at St Joseph’s Hospice, said: “We provide specialised end of life care for over 200 patients every year, as well as supporting their families, but we need to raise £6,500 every day to keep our services running so donations like this are vital.

“We are so very grateful for the support we receive from Savio Salesian College and want to thank the students and teachers for their generosity.”


Photos & text - Savio Salesian College & Jospice


Tuesday, 07 February 2017 14:06


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Future pope as missionary

Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti (Pio IX) was the ninth child of Count Girolamo and Caterina Sollazzi. He was born in Senigallia 13 May 1792. Between 1803 and 1808 he was a pupil at the College for noblemen in Volterra. Wanting to become a priest he had to interrupt his studies because of sudden attacks of epilepsy. In 1815, at Loreto, he obtained the grace of a full recovery. He resumed his theological studies in 1819 and was ordained priest. In 1823 he went as a missionary to Chile for two years.

Young bishop of Spoleto - Pope at 54

At just 35 years of age he was appointed Archbishop of Spoleto, then in 1832, of Imola. In 1840 he was created Cardinal and on 16 June 1846, on the fourth vote, with 36 votes out of 50 Cardinals at the Conclave, was elected Supreme Pontiff at just 54 years of age. As soon as he became Pope he undertook a number of reforms within the Papal State (freedom of the Press, freedom to Jews, beginning of a railway, promulgation of the Statutes), but when in 1848 he refused to support the war against Austria his “persecution” began.

Advises Don Bosco on his 'Society'

St. John Bosco had his first audience with Pius IX on 9 March 1858. Both of them had the feeling they had encountered a Saint. Pius IX supported and guided Don Bosco in the founding of the Salesian Congregation. It was he who suggested calling it a “Society” in step with the times, of having vows, but not solemn vows, and he suggested a simple habit and an intense but not too complicated practices of piety. He convinced Don Bosco to write his memoirs to leave the Salesians a spiritual legacy.

Don Bosco's Pope

During his Pontificate he approved the Constitutions and the Salesian Society, the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and the Pious Union of Salesian Cooperators, and was amongst the first to enrol as a member. Don Bosco had great love for Pius IX and accepted all his advice, even when it cost him great sacrifice: “I am ready to face any difficulty”, he would say, “when dealing with the papacy and the Church”. But the Pope too had great esteem for Don Bosco and called him to Rome often to ask his help on delicate issues. 

Papal acts of importance

On 8 December 1854 he defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. In 1869 he called Vatican Council I, and on 8 December 1870 proclaimed St. Joseph Patron of the Universal Church. On 16 June 1875 he consecrated the Church dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He died on 7 February 1878, after 32 years of Pontificate. John Paul II beatified him on 3 September together with Pope John XXIII.

Declared Venerable 6 July 1985; beatified 3 September 2000 by John Paul II


Friday, 03 February 2017 14:06

Chertsey students prepare with BOVA

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Chertsey India training 260117


To prepare for their upcoming trip to India to visit Don Bosco Ashalayam Kolkata, the sixth form group from Chertsey spent some time working with Anita from Bosco Volunteer Action (BOVA) .


The group focussed on reflecting on their motivations for wanting to go on a trip like this and what they might be able to build on from the experience. The group also spent time learning more about Salesian spirituality, managing culture shock, and thinking about their own attitudes towards poverty and sustainable development.


We wish them a safe and fruitful journey and look forward to hearing about their experiences on their return. Good to see them pictured with the latest book from Don Bosco Publications too!




 Above: The College (Photo: The Bosco Centre)

Sister Cecily Dunn FMA had an ambitious vision for the Bosco Centre, the project she founded to offer a nursery, school, college and more to the young people of Bermondsey.


Following her sad and unexpected death, the leadership was taken on by principal Darren Coghlan, who is working to connect the Bosco Centre with the wider network of Salesian schools and is initiating more Salesian training with the help of the Battersea Communities.


The students and children celebrated the Don Bosco Day with games and special treat, and the staff stayed on at the end of the day, to celebrate Mass and to pray for the young people.


During Mass, staff member Sam Britton offered the following reflection and encouragement to continue the spirit of Sr Cecily into the future:

"Sometimes young people can be testing, uncooperative, rude and can leave us feeling unmotivated. But they can also be kind, funny, loving and rewarding to work with. Please remember that those that are testing need the most love. It is our mission to ensure that they feel loved. They are young, they are precious and they will grow taller knowing that we love them."


The Bosco Centre is the only FE status school in our network and also includes a programme for young people who find settling into school life difficult. Alongside those services to young people there is a fully equipped nursery for over thirty children.


David O'Malley SDB


Find out more about the Bosco Centre, Bermondsey



Above: The nursery(Photo: The Bosco Centre)

Friday, 03 February 2017 13:09

Don Bosco Day in Battersea

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Above: Chris and Analisa cut the Don Bosco cake kindly donated by Michael Oxenford.


The Salesian family gathered for prayer and a buffet on Don Bosco's feastday. There were over forty involved from the youth network including cooperators, BOVA, Signposts, both our parishes, members of the chaplaincy group and staff from the schools. Fr Gerry led a service using a song from 'school of rock' to emphasise the need that young people have for a good listening to from caring adults.


We were also celebrating our first anniversary as a Salesian community on Surrey lane. Please keep us in our prayers as we launch into a new year!


Fr David O'Malley SDB

Friday, 03 February 2017 12:33

New Salesian Cooperator enrolled in Huyton

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We were very privileged to have Salesian Provincial Fr Gerry Broidy SDB, carry out his first enrolment in Huyton, for new Salesian Cooperator, John Ferguson. 


Fr Tony, our Delegate, had arranged this as Fr Gerry was in Bootle on his visitation. We had a special Prayer service printed out, getting us in the Spirit,  and as John made his promise with our support, the rest of us renewed our promises in the presence of Fr Gerry, who informed us he was extremely pleased to be undertaking his first enrolment in St Dominic's.

After the Service and presentation of the Project of Apostolic Life (PAL), Certificate and Badge to John,Fr Gerry gave us an outline of what the Rector Major wants for the future of our Mission. He also updated us on what is happening within our Province. We particularly remembered Fr Bernard Parkes in our prayers as he had talked about John becoming a Cooperator. We also remembered Bernard O'Neill - our adopted Scouser - who did so much in helping John over the last few years and who was with us in spirit too!



In true Salesian style we had a lovely buffet to share after the service. We had a little cake with smilies on for John and a large birthday cake as we were celebrating the birthdays of Christine, Margaret and Vera - but as Vera's was a special one we let her hold the cake! A great night was had by all.


Salesian Cooperators, Huyton


Find out more about the Salesian Cooperators



Four years ago, James Trewby, formerly of BOVA and now the Columban Missionaries’ Justice and Peace Education Worker, in collaboration with charities involved with London prisons, began organising opportunities for service and learning in prisons at Christmas. Volunteers participate in Christmas family visit days in prison. These are THE Christmas visit for families with young children, so our number one aim is always to help create a festive atmosphere! We do this by providing background music and music for a sing-a-long. At the same time we take the opportunity to reflect on faith, society and our own attitudes, through times of prayer and sharing. Through this we provide a reflective learning experience for our volunteers in the hope that they may be inspired to take action. We begin the day reflecting on a passage from Matthew’s gospel, being guided to notice our own expectations and challenge ourselves to think beyond them.

The latest group included volunteers associated with the Columban Missionaries, Salesians (BOVA) and the Austin Forum (Augustinians). Here are some of their reflections.

Anita Murtha, BOVA

Christmas is often a time where it is very easy to become self-indulgent and focused on, perhaps, the wrong type of things of presents and eating, so to have the chance to experience this day in the prison was immensely moving, inspiring and eye-opening for me and has really had a big impact during Advent and my approach to Christmas. Throughout the year of mercy, I have frequently been struck by Jesus’ call to ‘visit the imprisoned’ – in our society, it is very easy to perceive prisoners as outcasts as if we are better than them or that they are to be feared – but this experience certainly disproved those conceptions with the feel of such normality. I found it a privilege to be able to witness (and share) in the families’ Christmas experience; to witness the joy found in the little time spent with loved ones. This coupled with the evident sadness as the families said their goodbyes offered a striking message of the importance of our relationships with our loved ones that we can so often take for granted. I was also very touched by the genuine gratitude and appreciation personally offered by the men which to me speaks of the importance to follow Christ’s example to offer love and compassion to all our neighbours; the hungry, the homeless, the sick, the poor and indeed, the imprisoned.
(Diocesan youth worker, Crawley)


I was slightly apprehensive about the potential atmosphere in a prison, given recent coverage in the news. However, I was surprised that there was more attention to maintenance of the facilities and resources for visiting families than I had expected. I wasn't expecting to see so much art, and I thought it being there made a massive difference - it humanised an otherwise potentially dehumanising institution. It was lovely to see the sense of community between some of the prisoners, and their familial pride. There was also a sense that our presence added to the joy of this day for them, and it felt really good to make that difference. It really helped me to put some of my own worries and anxieties into perspective, as seeing the prisoners just enjoying time with their families, just as I will over the festive period, highlighted our similarities and made me reflect upon institutional inequalities and struggles that I have been lucky enough to have never faced.

It made it me think about how events and media portrayals can make it very easy to forget to prioritise every person's common humanity, that basic need to be loved, and the potential dangers that holds. I also enjoyed the opportunity for a good sing song! I came along to the visit because I have been trying to actively make time for things that are positive for my own health and for the health of my community, and I feel like visit delivered on both of those fronts.
(Junior doctor, London)


This was my first visit to a prison ever, even though I've always wanted to visit prisons, purely because Jesus said to do so. I didn't really think prison ministry was my 'thing' & didn't know what to expect. Maybe I expected to see big iron gates and iron bars, and expected inmates to be really angry and rude.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the it was nothing like that. There obviously was security we had to go through, but nothing threatening or scary! All the prisoners seemed to be just ordinary, normal kind of people that you meet on the street every day, friendly and smiling. I was really amazed to see how all the dads(prisoners) were so loving towards their kids, and enjoyed being with them, and it really touched my heart when they had to say goodbye to their kids at the end of the visit.

The whole visit was a huge learning experience for me. It was also a great start to Christmas for me, by spending time with people who couldn't have a normal family Christmas and reflecting on the less fortunate. I would love to be able to go back to prisons in some kind of ministry capacity in the future if possible.
(Retired civil servant, London)


I had such a wonderful experience singing Christmas Carols with the charity who helped organise this special event. It was a complete change to my Christmas routine, I wasn't sure what I was in for (as it was my first time). I spoke to friends about this event and some were intrigued and some were sceptical (but I felt that comes with the territory). My initial feelings were no to say No (I was half way down writing my traditional no response) to my colleague who recommended it to me, but I always say no, so I deleted my half-written message and something inside me just said "just do it" and it was one of the best decisions I have made.

Looking at the beautiful paintings (which the talented prisoners drew) on the wall highlights that we all are human and we all mistakes in life - we are all made out of the same beautiful material. At first I was scared but then just seeing smiles - gave me an added impetus to sing more and to provide more joy to all the families.

Also I was Santa Claus for the day and just looking at children's eyes smile and proud parents (prisoners) with their children coming up to receive their gifts made the whole day worthwhile. This was the first time ever I gave myself for Christmas to anyone except family and it has given me a great meaning for Christmas - to GIVE GIVE GIVE - Before receiving I would love to this AGAIN

(Undergraduate student, London)

Monday, 30 January 2017 15:28

Rector Major's Feast Day message to young people

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In his traditional greeting to the young people of the world on the Feast of Don Bosco, our Rector Major, Fr Angel Fernandez Artime this year sends a message of gratitude, hope and commitment, which - precisely in the manner of Don Bosco - urges the young to follow Jesus in an authentic way.


His letter is in full harmony with what Pope Francis has called for on a number of occasions: "Dear young people, I have full confidence in you and pray for you. Have the courage to swim against the tide." Both the Pope and the Rector Major are aware that "today the world needs you. It is in need of the great ideals that are typical of youth and your youthful dreams."


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