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Friday, 16 September 2016 11:31


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This World Day of Prayer for Peace, on the 20th September, is taking place thirty years after the first World Day of Prayer for Peace convened by Pope Saint John Paul II on the 27th October, 1986. Pope John Paul's inititaive in gathering together other Christian leaders and leaders of other religions was without precedent. It was inspired by the world's need for peace - a need that has only become more urgent and more pressing with the passage of time. But as we keep this anniversary it is important that we see it in context. It was not an isolated goodwill gesture; it must be understood as a key moment in the development and profile of the Papal office and of the Church in the world. It must also be seen against the background of the rich catechesis on the relationship between Christianity and other religions which was so central to Pope John Paul's legacy to the Church.

Only the Pope could have convened a meeting of this kind. Pope John Paul was the first truly "global" Pope and his concern and sense of responsibility extended well beyond the bounds of the Catholic Church.He convened this meeting because he knew that it fell to him to do so. In his great encyclical Ut Unum Sint ('That they may be one') he acknowledged this new responsibility and also the need to discern how to exercise his primacy in a way that 'is open to a new situation.' This is a discernement that is still very much work-in-progress but Pope Francis is clearly exercising it. He is inviting the Ecumenical Patriarch, the Archbishop of Canterbury as well as Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist leaders to witness to Peace together in Assisi.

The first World Day of Prayer must also be understood and interpreted in relation to the great body of teaching that Pope John Paul left us. In that teaching he developed the ecclesiological teaching of the vatican II's Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, ('Light of the Nations') as it relates to other religions and also the Council's Declaration on Non-Christian Religions, Nostra Aetate ('In our Time') which further elucidated the teaching of Lumen Gentium.

Central to this catechesis is his teaching on the Jews and especially his affirmation of the continuing validity of God's covenant with the Chosen People. More broadly in Chapter 10 of Redemptoris Missio ('The Mission of the Redeemer') the Pope affirms that for people who grow up in other religions "salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which while having a mysterious relationship to the Church does not make them formally part of the Church but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. The grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his Sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit." In his Christmas address to the Roman Curia given two months after the 1986 World Day of Prayer John Paul II took the opportunity to give one of his most remarkable addresses on other religions. In particular he stressed the "profound unity of those who seek in religion spiritual and transcendent values."

So this communication is not just about recalling something that happened thirty years ago. It is about claiming and exploring the role and profile of the Church as it has developed and continues to develop in a world marked by suffering and war but in which human beings continue to hope and believe despite the terrible sufferings that many have to endure. The Holy See has recently invited episcopal conferences to join the Holy Father in Prayer for Peace by organising events to mark this occasion. While it may not be possible at this stage to organise an event on the 20th September, it could also be marked on the 27th October, the anniversary of the first Day of Prayer; or indeed at any convenient time or occasion. What is important is that Prayer for Peace is and should be part of the life of the Church and organised in whatever way is best suited to the circumstances and resources of each local Church.

Archbishop Kevin McDonald is responsible for Catholic-Jewish relations and Interreligious Relations on behalf of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.

Thursday, 15 September 2016 15:09

Final Profession of Br Lukasz Torbicki

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On Sunday September 4th, Brother Lukasz Torbicki,  who spent a year between August 2012 and July 2013 as part of the Thornleigh community and working as a member of the College chaplaincy team, made his final profession in the parish church at Pogrezbieniu in southern Poland.


The parish is entrusted to the pastoral care of the Salesians and Lukasz and the parishioners were joined at the Profession Mass and subsequent celebrations by his family and Salesians from his province. Fr Hugh Preston, who had flown over to Poland along with his brother Francis to be present at the celebrations, acted as one of the two witnesses at the service.


Please keep Br Lukasz in your prayers. 

Thursday, 15 September 2016 09:21


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Between 1936 and 1939 Spain erupted into a bloody and dramatic civil war: It was a conflict which ignited ideological enmities, resulting in a battle between democracy and fascism, between republicans and rebels led by General Franco. The Spanish Church also paid the price, subjected as it was to anarchic militias, and violent persecution.

Many members of Salesian Family massacred

Thousands of priests, religious men and women and lay people were massacred, simply because they were Christians. Amongst these were many members of the Salesian Family: 39 priests, 22 clerics, 24 Brothers, 2 Salesian Sisters, 4 Salesian Cooperators, 3 Salesian Aspirants and 1 lay Co-Worker; 95 in all. Three separate causes were introduced, finally reduced to two: 

Two causes pursued

The group from Valencia – 32 martyrs – with Fr Joseph Calasanz at the head of them, the two groups from Seville and Madrid – 63 martyrs –with Fr Enrico Saiz Aparicio at the head of them. The first group was beatified on 11 March 2001 together with the other martyrs from the diocese of Valencia; while the second group were Beatified on October 28, 2007.

Fr Joseph Calasanz

Fr Joseph Calasanz (1872-1936) was born in Azanuy. Nel 1886 in Sarrià he saw Don Bosco by this time tired and suffering. He became a Salesian in 1890, and a priest five years later. He was secretary to Fr Rinaldi and following that superior of the Province of Perù-Bolivia. After returning to Spain he became Provincial of Terraconense (Barcelona – Valencia). He was a man of great heart and a hard worker, interested in the salvation of his confreres from the outset. He was captured together with other Salesians while he was running a Retreat in Valencia. He was killed while being taken away, with a single shot to the head.


José Batalla Parramón (1873-1936),
José Bonet Nadal (1875-1936), 
Jaime Bonet Nadal (1884-1936),
Antonio María Martín Hernández (1885-1936), 
Sergio Cid Pazo (1886-1936), 
Juan Martorell Soria (1889-1936), 
Julio Junyer Padern (1892-1938),

Recaredo de los Ríos Fabregat (1893-1936),Francisco Bandrés Sánchez (1896-1936),Julián Rodríguez Sánchez (1896-1936),José Otín Aquilué (1901-1938),José Castell Camps (1901-1936),José Giménez López (1904-1936),Alvaro Sanjuán Canet (1908-1936),José Caselles Moncho (1907-1936).

José Rabasa Bentanachs (1862-1936), 
Angel Ramos Velázquez (1876-1936), 
Gil Rodicio Rodicio (1888-1936),
Jaime Buch Canals (1889-1936), 
Agustín García Calvo (1905-1936), 
Eliseo García García (1907-1936), 
Jaime Ortiz Alzueta (1913-1936).

Miguel Domingo Cendra (1909-1936), 
Félix Vivet Trabal (1911-1936), 
Pedro Mesonero Rodríguez (1912-1936),
Felipe Hernández Martínez (1913-1936),
Zacarías Abadía Buesa (1913-1936), 
Javier Bordas Piferrer (1914-1936).

Lay co-worker: Alexandro Planas Saurí (1878-1936).

Salesian Sisters: 
Maria Carmen Moreno Benítez (1885-1936, vice provincial, directress and confidant of Blessed Sr. Eusebia Palomino who prophesised her martyrdom), 
Maria Amparo Carbonell Muñoz (1893-1936).

The decree of martyrdom was published 20 December 1999; they were beatified 2001 by John Paul II.

Thursday, 08 September 2016 15:46

BOVA: English Camp in Ho Chi Minh City

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Teacher James Fisher writes about his first weeks as a BOVA volunteer in Vietnam.

I had been looking forward to travelling to Vietnam and working with the Salesians and was very excited if not a little tired as the plane touched down in Ho Chi Minh City at 9 0clock Vietnam time on Wednesday 3rd of August 2016. As arranged there was a gentleman waiting for me with transport to take me to my placement, or so I thought. He handed me his phone and I was welcomed via the phone to Vietnam by Father Vincent who said he would see me soon. My Vietnamese driver ensured I was comfortable and off we went making our way slowly and sometimes dangerously through the thousands of motorbikes which clog the roads of Ho Chi Minh City. I had no idea where he was taking me and he could not speak English but I was slightly assured when I saw the statue of the Blessed Virgin and St Joseph looming large on the dashboard.

Twenty minutes later we arrived at the entrance of a large house which for some unknown reason had been built in the middle of what I can only describe as an industrial estate. An exuberant Father Vincent was there to meet me with the words "Welcome to Vietnam and welcome to English camp." English camp had not been in my plans, I did not know what it was and I certainly did not like the idea of camping out in Vietnam with no air conditioning not to mention all the dangerous creepy crawly things that might be lurking or even slithering around. My fears were soon distant memories when over a bowl of finest home-made Pho Father Vincent explained to me what English Camp was.

English camp is two weeks of residential intensive English tuition, spiritual readings, talks, mass, rosary, singing, performing and sport. It was forbidden to speak or even think in Vietnamese. The students, and there were fifty of them, were all aspirants for the Salesian priesthood or brotherhood. In short the English camp was as much about spirituality as it was about learning English. It was clear from the start all the students had some experience of the demands of English camp and the spiritual life. I have been used to working as a teacher in England where many of the students were disengaged in education or paid lip service to it so it was a pleasant culture shock to work with a group who were highly motivated, totally obedient and very eager to please.

Another shock for me was that prayers and readings started at 5.30 am. I really found it a struggle to get myself presentable at that time of the morning and yet the fifty students were always in their seats before 5.30am and all were immaculately turned out, usually in smart dark trousers and white shirts. So we had readings until 6 o’ clock and that was followed by mass. At 6.30 am it was breakfast time. It took me a time to get used to having noodles and meat dishes for breakfast but there was also lots of fruit, vegetables and yoghurts. Unfortunately, no English tea and certainly no toast with lashings of butter. The students took it in turns to do readings of their choice from the bible before and after breakfast. Then it was clean up time which the students did without question. This was followed by animation which is basically indoor games. The students had all been allocated to teams and most activities turned out to be very competitive.

English lessons started at 8.30am and each teacher had a class of 10 /12 students. The students had been allocated to classes based on their levels of English. I took an intermediate class but most pupils in the group were somewhere between basic and intermediate. The students were very keen to please in lessons and were very keen to do well in English. There were three formal lessons of English each day and these were broken up by hymn practice, readings and of course lunch which was usually pork, chicken or fish with rice, noodles and Vietnam soup. After lunch all the students took advantage of siesta when they went to bed for an hour. Instead of siesta I retired to a local café for a good fix of caffeine in the form of a café sua da which is iced coffee with lots of condensed milk. After another bout of animation, a formal English class, readings practice and an hour of sport (always football) it was soon time for dinner which was always an excellent meal with a good choice of home cooked Vietnamese dishes . To finish of the day the rosary was said while walking outside or in, and the day was completed with a short talk from one of the volunteers on the camp. The pupils had an opportunity to watch an English movie before going to bed. Everyone was usually in bed by 9.30pm.

Although it was not in my plans I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the two weeks. The two priests Father Vincent and Father Tamr were fantastic to work for as were the other volunteers and I doubt I shall ever encounter a better motivated, more mannerly and obedient set of students anywhere. The food I can only describe as glorious and akin to what you would expect in a top restaurant. I am now taking it easy at the Provincial House in Ho Chi Minh City, doing some one to one work with brothers and priests and awaiting the return of the pre novitiate students I will be teaching English to for the next twelve months in another part of the city. The students, brothers and priests, like all the Vietnamese people I have encountered, have all been very supportive, caring and generous.

English camp is a lovely way to spend two weeks but it is very tiring. The early rises can be a burden if you are not used to them. The students will use every opportunity they can to speak English to you and will want you to speak back to them. It does not matter what you are doing and there is no escaping it. It is very positive but it can be quite draining. The students throw themselves body and soul into the religious and spiritual aspect of the camp. I did the same in that I attended all the readings, rosaries, masses etc but it was clear from the start of the camp that the spiritual aspect of the camp was optional for the volunteers and there was at least one who opted out.

I believe that there are two English camps in Vietnam each summer. The first is in Dalat in July and is three weeks long. The second is in Ho Chi Minh City at the beginning of August and lasts for two weeks. Some volunteers did both camps. If you have a long summer break and maybe can't commit to a longer volunteer placement or you are not sure, then this could be the experience for you. Be aware that if you come to volunteer in Vietnam you will be working with young adults who are somewhere in the process of becoming priests or brothers. The Salesians do not have any schools in Vietnam.

Just ensure you come with an open mind, an open heart and be prepared to be flexible and to work hard.

James is a teacher by profession and is currently one month into his 12 month placement with the Salesians in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. We hope to be able to share more stories from his experience and our other volunteers currently overseas. If you know of anyone who is interested in short or long term volunteering with the Salesians overseas please contact us: bova@salesianyouthministry.com


A new Salesian project aims to equip young adults with the skills they need to make important decisions in a world that is increasingly filled with uncertainty and competing choices.

Rooted in the Christian tradition of discernment, but open to young adults of all faiths and none, the Signposts programme has been created by Fr David O’Malley SDB , drawing on the Salesian experience in working with the young.

“Young adults today face far more choices and uncertainties than their parents. Work, relationships and culture are all in a time of significant change, and the stability of long term work and family life is under threat,” said Fr O’Malley. “Young adults need to keep flexible, ready to adapt and change. They need to know where they want to go, who they want to be and how they can live a meaningful life. Signposts helps to answer those needs.”

The project has three stages, beginning with a series of workshop events in several areas, a peer-led approach is taken to outline the Signposts programme , share experience and engage participants in discussions about their needs and the choices they face. An invitation is extended to attend a residential weekend , where strategies for making life-giving choices are learned. The third and final stage is an optional individually tailored 1-1 guidance programme which concludes at the end of six months.
The Signposts experiences are designed to take a young adult deeper into the wisdom and self-awareness needed to make good decisions.

Fr O’Malley continued: “Signposts is for young adults aged 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. It is not counselling nor is it careers advice - that is available elsewhere. People are more than their jobs and personal choices need to reflect the broader perspective that Signposts offers.”

The Signposts team is keen to work with a wide variety of groups around the country to provide a bespoke roadshow experience for young adults in each area during 2016/17.

If you would be interested in hosting a roadshow event or taking part in Signposts in any way, contact Anita Motha on 0207 139 8353 or email development@signposts.uk.net


Visit the Signposts website

Friday, 26 August 2016 15:53

Congratulations to our Salesian schools!

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This year, while the proportion of A*-C grades nationally saw its biggest drop since GCSEs came in in 1998, according to The Tablet,  results in many Catholic schools did the opposite.

Don Bosco would be very proud of the culture and education offered in the schools run in his name, and the fine students, staff and governors who carry his vision forward.

In the past two weeks,  the Salesian schools have seen excellent overall results at A/AS-Level and GCSE, and some pretty spectacular individual results, so we thought we'd give you a quick round-up of just some of the highlights!

St John Bosco College, Battersea, achieved its best ever results at both GCSE and A-level, including six GCSE students who gained 26 A* and 27 A grades between them.

Thornleigh Salesian College celebrated its best examination results ever with a 7 % increase on last year in grades A*-C at GCSE. Ofsted's comments this year summed up the Salesian ethos when it described Thornleigh as a school 'characterised by ambition and where the individual is cherished'. Headteacher Alison Burrowes is pictured above with GCSE students.

St John Bosco Arts College, Croxteth, improved results for the ninth consecutive year, with 80% of students achieving grades A*-C, and students setting off to further study at renowned institutions including the Universtity of Durham and London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA).

99% of students at Salesian College Farnborough acheived at least seven A* - C grades at GCSE, and Salesian School Chertsey also saw record A-Level results, with 72% at A*, A or B grades, and a one hundred per cent pass rate.

Well done!



A Level students with staff at St John Bosco College, Battersea



A-level students at Salesian School, Chertsey



GCES students at Salesian College, Farnborough



A-level and GCSE students at St John Bosco Arts College, Croxteth


Friday, 26 August 2016 14:57

Salesian summer adventures for Bootle youngsters

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This summer young people from the parish of St James, Bootle went for a series of Salesian trips.

With the help of Youth Active team, youngsters were able to visit Croxteth Park, go to the "Crocky Trails" theme park, spend a day at the beach in New Brighton, and go to the cinema to see "The BFG."

It was a time of fun, relaxing and making new friends - everyone enjoyed days spent together in a very positive mood and atmosphere.

Fr Jakub Ruszuniak SDB



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, 25 August 2016 15:27

Blessed Ceferino Namuncurá

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On 26th August, the day of his birth in 1886, we remember Ceferino Namuncurá, the 'Prince of the Pampas'. He was a Salesian student and aspirant, the son of the last great Chief of the Mapuches, the indigenous people of southern and central Chile and southern Argentina. His mother was a Chilean captive, one of the Chief's three consorts. As a young boy, he witnessed the destruction of his people's way of life, following the 'Conquest of the Desert' which brought tremendous suffering and desperate poverty, and from an early age, he sought a way to help them. Ceferino embraced the Catholic faith and the charism of Don Bosco, seeing a Salesian education as the path to a better life for all of his his people. He wished to become a Salsian priest to return to his own land and share the benefits he had received. 

Fr Pascual Chavez SDB, who was Rector Major at the time of Ceferino's beatification, described him as 'a fruit of salesian youth spirituality', and he is seen as an example of how a distinctive culture can be integrated with faith to create harmony in times when there are so many tensions and conflicts between cultures.

Ceferino died of tuberculosis in Rome at the age of 19. He was beatified in 2007.

Read more about his life

Thursday, 25 August 2016 10:46

Celebrating Blessed Maria Troncatti

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On 25th August we celebrate Blessed Maria Troncatti, a Salesian Sister, who trained and worked as a Red Cross nurse in military hospitals in the First World War, and was a missionary in Ecuador for many years.


She was part of an initially tiny group of Sisters engaged in evangelisation and care for the Shuar people of the Amazon forest, looking after their physical needs as nurse, surgeon and dentist, and their spiritual needs as catechist, envangeliser and role-model. The work she began in an isolated and dangerous environment continues today.


Blessed Maria was killed in a tragic plane crash on 25th August 1969. She was beatified in 2012.


Read more about her remarkable life



Father, who enkindled an active love in the heart of Blessed Maria Troncatti,
ready to spend her life without reserve for the good of every person,
grant us the graces that we ask through her intercession,
and make us capable of imitating her faith
and her ardent love for you and our neighbour.
Through Christ Our Lord.




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RISE: Young Salesian Leaders' Summer Camp 2016

Youth Ministry

RISE: Young Salesian Leaders' Summer Cam…

Clare Lewis | 26-08-2016

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...

Jubilarians celebrate 315 years of FMA life

Salesian Sisters News

Jubilarians celebrate 315 years of FMA l…

Clare Lewis | 10-08-2016

The 144th anniversary of the founding of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians last week was celebrated with even greater joy in our Province, as there were six jubilarians...


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