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Monday, 09 November 2015 16:28

BOSCO VOLUNTEER ACTION ('BOVA)

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We are delighted to send our greetings to Anita and all those involved with Bosco Volunteer Action on their 10th Birthday.

Responding to a request to the then Provincial (Fr Michael Winstanley SDB), the Salesian Youth Ministry Department in the British Province set the ball rolling.
At the last count over 150 people, young and old have offered Volunteering all around the world.
 
Long may the work of 'BOVA, especially in the field of Social Justice continue. 
 
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Wednesday, 04 November 2015 09:00

SALESIAN SPIRITUALITY WEEKEND

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'Many people err in imagining that many different things, many different methods are needed in order to make prayer good. I do not say that one should not make use of particular methods; but we should not cling to them or hang on to them to the extent that we put all our trust in them. In order to pray well, one thing only is necessary, namely, to hold our Lord in our arms. When we do this, our prayer is always well made, no matter in what ways we may choose to approach it.' (St Francis de Sales)

Monday, 02 November 2015 17:18

EXTRAORDINARY VISITATION

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On behalf of the Salesians and Salesian Family, we are delighted to welcome Fr Tadeusz Rozmus SDB, the Regional Councillor for Central-North Europe to the British (GBR) Province for the Extraordinary Visitation during the month of November. Fr Tadeusz comes in the name of the Rector Major and will visit each Salesian Community and speak with each Salesian Confrere. In a very tight schedule he will also have the opportunity to see the different Salesian works, meet those who share in our mission, meet members of the Salesian Family, attend the Youth Ministry Weekend and the Opening and Blessing Ceremony for St John Bosco College, Battersea.

Fr Tadeusz visited the GBR Province briefly in May 2014 when he met the confreres on retreat at Hothorpe Hall and in Farnborough and St Joseph's, and he also joined the group of SDBs on the Pilgrimage Retreat to the Holy Land in May 2015. We are delighted that he will be able to spend more time with us and in the Province.

Another important task during the Visitation will be to conduct the Consultation for the new Provincial for the term 2016-2022. We have celebrated a novena of Masses around the Province in these last days for the 'light of the Holy Spirit' and will continue to pray for God's blesing during the coming month.

May God bless Fr Tadeusz in his work with us.

Sunday, 01 November 2015 10:30

THE FEAST OF ALL SAINTS

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For a very long time, the Church has reserved one day in which to honour all the saints, both those officially recognised and those known only to God. Saints are not seen as 'super' human beings, but as those people who realised the vocation for which all of us were created and to which we are ultimately called. We are not called to be another St John Bosco or St Mary Mazzarello - but to engage our own talents and temperaments, our own strengths and weaknesses, and to respond to the needs of our brothers and sisters around us. This Feast strengthens and encourages us to create our own pathway to sanctity.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015 18:00

MEETING OF SALESIANS IN PARISH MINISTRY

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12-14 October

Hothorpe Hall

Nine Salesians from various parishes up and down the Province came together for their annual meeting in the countryside of Leicestershire. Also in attendance was the Provincial, Fr Martin Coyle SDB and the Youth Ministry Animator, Sue McDonald.

Fr Martin led Monday afternoon's session. He invited people to look at their own specific Parish - What are its strengths, its weaknesses? What challenges or threats are facing us? How can we respond to the opportunities that are in front of us? The session allowed people to speak about their parish, the people within those parishes - and the high points (and low points!) of their ministry.

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Tuesday was led by Fr David O'Malley SDB - over three sessions during the day, David guided the group to look at some of the challenges of General Chapter 27 - how do we as Salesians move or further develop the Parish Community to an authentic place exhibiting Gospel values? How do we respond to young people within the Parish setting - how do we effectively continue to address their needs? Recognising that many young people often need an excuse to 'cross over the door', how do busy priests (already responding to the many needs of everyone else) make those connections? Using pieces of solid secular research, David guided the group in exploring where today's young people stand - and how religion and faith can indeed help young people to grow and survive in today's world. It was noted that the development of Don Bosco's work was through young people - 'come back next week, and bring your friends!'

David's input allowed people to reflect and discuss with each other on all the issues raised - a gentle timetable and approach id always very much appreciated when people live very busy lives.

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The Wednesday session looked and felt very different. Fr Bob Gardner SDB (Salesian Link) - spoke briefly about where things were developing in the Media and Communications field - and presented all present with the new DVD resource from the Southwark Catholic Youth Service, 'Life in Christ'. He was followed by Sue McDonald from Youth Ministry who thanked all for the great support during Flame 2. She also outlined various activities that were happening (World Youth Day in Poland, the Young Adults Spirituality weekend etc) and offered support to those working with young people in the parishes.

There was a general discussion about the format of the Parishes Meeting for the future. People wanted to continue to meet, which was very positive - and a variety of topics were explored as to future themes/topics for the meetings. Fr Martin then spoke about the up and coming 'Visitation of the Province', the consultation for the new Provincial, as well as the Provincial Chapter to be held in 2016, at Limehouse, London. As one person commented - "The Salesian Charism is stronger than it ever was in the Province!"

The ministries of prayer and hospitality are always hugely important on these occasions - prayer, Mass, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament - along with excellent food and relaxing company. Hopefully people are going back to their Parishes feeling refreshed and encouraged, continuing to bring the Gospel to the Church, respecially the young, in a Salesian way.

Roll on the 17-19 October, 2016!!

Tuesday, 13 October 2015 15:20

BLESSED ALEXANDRINA DA COSTA (1904-1955)

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Blessed Alexandrina da Costa was born on the 30th March 1904 at Balasar in Portugal. She was brought up in the faith by her mother, along with her sister Deolinda. Alexandrina stayed with her family until she turned seven, then was sent to Póvoa do Varzim to board with a carpenter's family, so she could attend the primary school that she would have missed out on at Balasar. After returning to Balasar she worked as a farmer, as a lively affectionate and playful girl, much sought out by her friends.

Injured in jump from window to save her virtue

When she was fourteen years old she jumped from a window into the garden at home to safeguard her virtue when it was under threat from some evil intentioned young men. Five years later, the damage caused by the fall left her totally paralysed and she was bed-ridden for thirty years. She was looked after by her older sister.

Salesian charism includes desire to suffer for souls

She sought the grace of a recovery, but the Mother of God instead gave her the grace to accept her suffering as well as a desire to suffer for the salvation of souls. The Salesian charism included that of being a victim, something she developed along with Frs Beltrami, Czartoryski, Valaria and Sister Eusebia. It also inspired Alexandrina. She offered herself to Christ as a victim for the conversion of sinners and for peace in the world: "I have no purpose other than that of giving glory to God and saving souls".

No food or drink for 13 years - other than the Eucharist

For four years(1938-1942), overcoming her constant paralysis, she was able to get up from her bed, and on 182 occasions relived Christ's passion every Friday, for three sorrowful hours. She asked and obtained from Pope Pius XII that the world be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (31 October 1942). From the 27th March 1942 until her death, 13 years and 7 months later, she took no food or drink other than her daily communion. This unexplainable fact was scientifically verified by different doctors, sometimes in a way which was humiliating to Alexandrina.

Becomes a Salesian Cooperator

She was a great mystic. In constant union with Jesus in the world's tabernacles, she was the subject of ecstasies and revelations. The Lord provided that her second spiritual directorvbe a Salesian, Fr Umberto Pasquale, who kept her diary. She then asked to be a Cooperator. She said, "I feel I am in great union with the Salesians and with the Cooperators all over the world. And frequently I witness to my belonging to them and offer my suffering, united with them all, for the salvation of the young! I love the Congregation. I love it very much and will never forget it in heaven or on earth".

Thousands came to her bedside to get comfort from her words. On the 13th October 1955 she died at Balasar, where she is now buried, facing the tabernacle. Crowds of pilgrims regularly visit the place.

Pope John Paul II beatified her on 25th April 2004. 

 

Monday, 05 October 2015 11:19

BLESSED ALBERT MARVELLI

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Oratorian at Rimini

Alberto Marvelli was born at Ferrari on 21st March 1918, the second of seven brothers. When he moved to Rimini with the family he began to attend the Salesian Oratory there. He was always available and became a catechist and leader: the Salesians’ right arm. He loved to play all kinds of sport. He took St Dominic Savio and Pier Giorgio Frassati as his models. At 17 years of age he wrote down his project of life in his diary; it would renew his life.

Catholic Action

He joined the Oratory group for Catholic Action soon becoming its parish president. He offered his service to the Church in Rimini as the diocesan vice president of CA. As an engineeering student in Bologna, he took an active part in FUCI, remaining faithful to daily Mass.

Work with FIAT, Turin

In June 1942 he graduated and began working with Fiat in Turin. He did his military service in Trieste, and succeeded in bringing many of his friends to Mass. During the Second World War he became an apostle amongst displaced persons and a real source of providence for the poor.

Town clerk at Rimini

After the Allies arrived in Rimini he was apppointed as an alderman in the Town Council in the department responsible for rebuilding, and the engineer in charge of civil engineering: “ The poor are on our doorstep” he said; “the others can wait”.

Candidate for Christian Democrats

He agreed to run for the elections as a candidate for the Christian Democrats. He was recognised as a committed Christian by everyone, but was never divisive, so much so that one of his communist opponents said: “I don’t mind if my Party loses, so long as Engineer Marvelli becomes Mayor”.

Nurtured by the Eucharist

The Bishop appointed him president of Catholic graduates. His Marian and Eucharistic devotion really were the supporting columns in his life: “What a new world opens up to me contemplating Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament”, he wrote in his diary. Each time I receive Holy Communion, each time Jesus in his divinity and humanity enters into me, in contact with my soul, it awakens holy ideas in me, a burning and consuming flame, but one that makes me so happy!”.

Good Christian and honest citizen

He died when he was hit by an army truck on 5th october 1946. He was, as Don Bosco wanted, a good Christian and upright citizen, committed to the Church and society with a Salesian heart. As a youth his motto was: We go forward or we die.

He was beatified on 5 September 2004, at Loreto, Italy, by Pope John Paul II.

Saturday, 19 September 2015 19:33

YOUTH MINISTRY - SUMMER 2015

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Summer this year began on the 3rd July for Youth Ministry, with the arrival of 24 young adults from around Europe hoping to qualify as trainers for Don Bosco Youth-Net. We had a small host team cooking and looking after the guests each day from 0800 to midnight for the ten day Step 3 course. We also provided one of the trainers in the guise of Fr Bob Gardner SDB and we had our own participant from Great Britain, Gina Hindley. It was a great opportunity for us to work together as Salesians in the UK (Vides and Youth Ministry) on a project and it was a suucess, not because they said we were exemplary hosts with good food, but because it gave us the chance to experience the wider Salesian family and the wealth of committed young adults we have volunteering for the mission Don Bosco entrusted to us. By the way Gina passed the course and will train volunteers in Europe.

From that we moved into our usual summer activity, 'Phoenix', in which we provided six schools with ten places each on a project for young people leaving Year 7. This is always very popular with the schools, and places were filled by January! This year the weeks were led by Amy Grattidge and Chloe Ceairns who both did an outstanding job. The teachers accompanying the 60 young people are always supportive and are a welcome addition to the small team of volunteers working on the week. This year as well as canoeing, swimming, team games, we added a climbing wall, because of generous donations received during the year.

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During Phoenix we welcomed the family of Bro Greg Golas SDB, who tragically died in 2013 at Savio House. His family wanted to come and see our camps in action. They brought sweets and gifts for the young people and volunteers as well as teaching them all a Polish dance. It was lovely for the teachers to have the opportunity to share a few memories from 2013.

Whilst all this was going on we sent three of our volunteers, Madeleine, Hannah and Georgia, on a six day training course called "Routes to Europe" in Vienna where they met other young Salesians from around Europe and focussed on refugees and cultural identity.

During the second week of Phoenix, Youth Ministry piloted a new venture called 'RISE' for Year 11's and 12's. This was a fantastic beginning to the project. The young people work together and look at leadership skills and their gifts in leadership. One Year 11 from Farnborough summed up the week' 'Last week was one of the best in my whole life. I have met fantastic people, learned essential leadership skills and had an opportunity to reflect on what is important for me. It's been a great week; I've never laughed so hard or so much in such great company before.'

The next event that called upon the presence of Youth Ministry was the provincial gathering for the Bi-Centenary event at Thornleigh, Bolton. Twenty-six of us attended and hosted the event with Gerry Kehoe and the Provincial. This was truly a memorable day for us all. The volunteers always  come out of provincial events with the word 'WOW' on their lips,and this was no exception!20150730 1417101

Lastly, the summer ended with Don Bosco Youth-Net, Step 2 in Malta, attended by two of our volunteers David and Anya. Tne project called 'Step out of the Box' brought twenty-four young people from across Europe to explore and learn from the best practices, on how to maintain a project and give it life. They only arrived back recently so we await their report, as so far we have only seen pictures of this beautiful sunny island ,and the young adults having a great time.

Sue McDonald - SYM Animator

[pictures used are from the RISE project]

On a lovely September Friday evening Old Boys of the Salesian Missionary College Shrigley began arriving at Savio House, Bollington to begin a reunion weekend of celebration for Don Bosco's Bi-Centenary. They came from far and wide including Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall, London and various other places in England driving through the usual heavy Friday evening. Some then made their way to the Shrigley Hotel (the former College) whilst the rest who were staying in Savio House enjoyed an hour or two in the Poachers, the local hostelry, catching up on recent news and telling stories of yesteryear, yet again!

After breakfast the Celebration Mass was held in the lovely chapel in Savio House. Fr. Michael Winstanley, himself a Shrigley Old boy, was the main celebrant representing the Province and together with Fr. Robert Coupe, other Salesians from Savio and Thornleigh, including Bro Donald MacDonald and over 30 Shrigley Old Boys, wives and friends, witnessed a truly memorable celebration with the fantastic musical direction of Fr Martin Poulsom, a Salesian of 25 years who was too young to have been a Shrigley boy! He led the musicians (Kevin Dean and Gerry Wright) and Polly Witter (Team leader at Savio) sang the Psalm beautifully. Fr. Michael's homily was built around the "Good Night" given by "Don Bosco" at the Thornleigh Bi-centenary event. The message was clear though for us all to be DON BOSCOS and help him to continue to realise his dream to be there for the young in the years ahead. During the mass we prayed for Shrigley Salesians who had died since the last reunion including Fr. Albert Carette, our former President, Fr. George Robson, always the first to book his place at our events, Fr. Bernard Parkes, a former staff member of Savio House who hosted many of our previous reunions, Fr. Micheal Lindsay and Fr. John Booth who although not a past pupils had taught at Shrigley.
 
After the mass and a cup of coffee we then went to the local cemetery to visit the grave of Fr. Bernard Parkes and other Salesians buried there over the years. A rose bush was planted in memory of Fr. Bernard by the class of 58' (Gerry Wright, Greg Bell, Keith Dransfield and Bernard O'Neill) and Fr. Robert said a few appropriate words for the occasion leading us in prayer and singing the Salve Regina.
 
The next stop was Shrigley Hotel where we gathered for a pre lunchtime drink followed by the lunch. In good Salesian style we had a collection to buy some drinks for the evening concert and Bernard O'Neill, the main organiser of the event outlined the programme for the rest of the day thanking those who had contributed to the programme in one way or the other.
 
There then followed presentations in the Cheshire Suite, better known to most as the former classroom for Lower Elements in days gone by. Paul Barnes presented a power point entitled "This is your Life" of Fr Albert. Fr. Michael then paid a tribute to Fr. George, a fellow Wiganer of Michael's home town and Bernard O'Neill then paid a tribute to Fr. Bernard, as he explained, a blood brother of his resulting from a clash of head and teeth whilst playing the game of 'Rush' September 1958..
Finally in this session Paul spoke briefly about the Salesian Vocation of the Cooperator quoting Don Bosco who had said before the first General Chapter, that "The Salesian Cooperators are the very soul of the Congregation" Paul encouraged all to consider becoming a Salesian Cooperator and a leaflet was distributed outlining more about the role. Paul also spoke briefly about BOVA (Bosco Volunteer Action) which provides an opportunity to do Salesian volunteering abroad. Paul will be returning to a Secondary School in Moshi, Tanzania at the end of September for his 5th visit since June 2012 where he is also fundraising for them to build three Science Laboratories and a Geography Room. We then visited the Salesian Cemetery where Kevin Dean led us in prayer for the occasion and flowers were laid prepared by Marie Burke, on each of the graves.

We returned to Savio House to enjoy a lovely meal prior to the concert which started at 7.45pm. There were 10 items in all compered by Paul Barnes. There was great variety starting with a piano contribution by Kevin Dean of a melody of songs through the decades where we recalled the various Rectors over the years. Ken Greaney shared some of his jokes, Michael McManus played his guitar, Keith Dransfield read humorous poetry, the Savio Volunteers sang a song in three different languages, Gregg Bell played some singalong favourites and Joe Lomax sang some classical songs accompanied on the piano, Marie Kay who also played some fantastic music on her own. Bernard O'Neill paid a poetic tribute to Fr. Bernard and finally Gerry Wright entertained us for 20 minutes with his rock and roll song repertoire and his guitar Fr. Tony then gave the "Good Night" encouraging us to hold onto our memories and expressed his appreciation for the high standard of entertainment provided.
 
The lovely weather continued on the Sunday as we gathered for Sunday Mass. Fr. Bob Gardner was the celebrant officiating in his new role as Vice Provincial for the renewal of vows for two Polish Brothers working in the Province, Bro Lukasz Duminski and Bro Janusz Garus. The music for Mass was up to the usual high standard including the singing of Laudato Si, by Polly (one of Fr. Bernard's favourites.) In his homily, Fr. Bob encouraged us all to help the less fortunate than ourselves, especially the young in the true spirit of Don Bosco..
There then followed a three course meal after which thanks was expressed to the chef and volunteers who had looked after us so well.

Before the final good byes, following some consultation, it was unanimously agreed that those present wanted to meet again next year, God willing. The chosen date is to be September 23rd to 25th and it is hoped that the numbers might be at least doubled as we felt the gap of three years since the last one was too long and that it had been such an enjoyable weekend and so memorable in many ways. As you read this and you are interested then please put a note in your planner and respond to the reminders which will be sent out from time to time on our SHRIGLEY OLD BOYS website which Keith Dransfield has agreed to open again.

PAUL BARNES

Monday, 14 September 2015 17:06

RENEWAL OF VOWS - SAVIO HOUSE, BOLLINGTON

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We offer our warmest congratulations and prayers to Bro Lukasz Duminski SDB and Bro Janusz Garus SDB who renewed their vows to Religious Profession on Sunday 6th September.

Both Brothers from Poland, on Practical Training in the GBR Province stated their intention to live the Vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience for two years to the Vice-Provincial, Fr Bob Gardner SDB, who took the place of the Rector Major.

The celebration was attended by the local Savio House Community, and a large number of the Shrigley Old Boys and their families.

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