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In the penultimate week of Lent, the Rector Major considers the heart of the Salesian spirit, in the rich network of relationships we form in our lives, and Fr Graham Forristalle looks at holiness in a parish preparing for the holiest time of the year.

 

Each Lenten Friday evening in Cowley, the people of the parish gather in the church for 6pm. Altar servers have come to join us, and together we follow the Way of the Cross. In the fourteen stations the family of the parish meditate on Jesus who suffered and gave his life for us all. This family has members from Latvia, from Malawi, from Goa, East Timor and Poland: from Brittany and from all parts of Europe. We are praying in English: whether this is our first or second language we acclaim the one saviour, and the image and pattern of his sacrifice is our pattern of holiness. In one scripture during the Stations, we read about the paradox within Jesus’ sacrifice. “For our sake God made the sinless one into sin, so that in him we might become the goodness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

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During Lent, we are reflecting on the Rector Major's Strenna for 2019, 'Holiness for you too', presenting extracts from his commentary on the Strenna, and thoughts on holiness from members of the Salesian Family, along with scripture readings and prayers for you to pray and reflect on during each week of the Lenten season.


This week, we hear from Sue, Youth Ministry Animator for our Province.

 

Holiness in the office of youth ministry is grounded yet often not tangible. It is the daily response to the Lord in serving the volunteers and in turn walking with the young.

 

Holiness, for me, is being ready and available to be used as a mouthpiece for the Word of God to reach others. The small joys in the journey are seeing the young respond to the Lord they hear calling them through this service.

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Fr Andrew Ebrahim SDB and students from St John Bosco College, Battersea, were guests on their local radio station on Mothering Sunday. 

 

On Sunday morning, three of our pupils were invited to speak on 'Sunday Joy' at Wandsworth Radio about the Music for Lent  evening at St John Bosco College on Thursday 22nd March 7.30pm - 8.30pm. (See below for more information). The presenters were very welcoming and helped to  put our students at ease very quickly.

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On Sunday 11th March four students from SJBC will be interviewed on Wandsworth Radio, their Sunday Joy programme, from 9am - 10am. You can listen to the show here.  

The interview will be based on the school's 'Music for Lent' evening which will take place on Thursday 22nd March at SJBC from 7.30pm - 8.30pm. It will be an evening of varied music genres and readings to prepare us for Holy Week and Easter.

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For our Lenten reflections this year, in partnership with our Mission Office, we have taken the theme for Salesian Mission Day 2017. We will be returning to the roots of the Salesian missionary vocation by learning more about our missionary presence with the indigenous peoples of America. This week, hear about the peoples of the Amazon Rainforest, on the borders of Brazil and Venezuala.

 

At the end of the seventeenth century and early eighteenth century some indigenous peoples of Rio Negro experienced persecution by non-indigenous explorers. Among these people, were also my ancestors of the Arañaos ethnicity. At that time, some people died from various diseases, but many others were killed; while still others escaped from the river bank and went to live in the forest. The Salesians, upon reaching those lands, approached the indigenous people and won their confidence by showing that they were not bad people.

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Tuesday, 28 February 2017 16:13

Lenten Wednesdays: Ash Wednesday

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'Our family was born missionary and cannot cease to be so!'

For our Lenten reflections this year, in partnership with our Mission Office, we have taken the theme for Salesian Mission Day 2017. We will be returning to the roots of the Salesian missionary vocation by learning more about our missionary presence with the indigenous peoples of America.

Jesus provides us with the perfect model of the missionary: he lived with the people, taking on their values, speaking their language, and remaining with them until his earthly life ended on the Cross. Like Jesus, missionaries reach the people because they are not just passing through; they remain with them, becoming part of their society and proclaiming the Gospel in a way that respects their different cultures. In this way, the faith and those who teach it become an integral part of their culture.

Don Bosco said 'give me souls, take away the rest,' and it is natural that he was passionate about introducing the Gospel to those beyond his own land who were in need of salvation. In his letter on this year's Mission Day theme, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, our Rector Major, said: 'Our family was born missionary, and cannot cease to be so!'

Our theme this year is a reminder of these missionary roots, an invitation to re-engage with them and to look in a spirit of love and solidarity beyond our own context to our brothers and sisters across the nations.

On 11th November 1875, the first Salesian missionaries were sent to Argentina by Don Bosco, fulfilling his dream. In his letter, Fr Ángel describes their approach, and links it to this year's Strenna, 'We are a Family':

'We realise ... just as the first missionaries arriving in America knew, how to create a family spirit and atmosphere of a home in each one of the peoples and cultures with which they came into contact with. They dearly loved all the indigenous groups to whom they were sent. They respected them and made their own all of their joys, their frustrations and their dreams. They defended them to the point of giving their lives for them.'

In 1964, the Second Vatican Council's decree Ad Gentes (To the Nations) set out the future for missionary work in exactly this way, encouraging missionaries to live among the people, understand and respect their culture and values, remain with them, and work to ensure that the Gospel become part of their cultural fabric.

The Salesians in Britain have a strong missionary connection, with many confreres serving in overseas missions, but we should not forget that when the first Salesians arrived in Battersea in 1887, they came to England as missionaries, a vision Dominic Savio had treasured.

Today, our Province continues to benefit from the Salesian missionary charism, with the valued presence and service of the men who volunteered to come to us as part of Project Europe.

We give thanks for them and for all Salesian missionaries past and present, and keep their work and the people they serve in our prayers this Lent.

 

 

Prayer for Salesian Missions Day 2017

 

Father Creator, we praise you,
For the seeds of sanctity and beauty,
sown among the American peoples.
Grant us to contemplate, appreciate and defend
your wisdom in the indigenous cultures.
Help us to proclaim with the light of the Spirit
the unfathomable riches of your Son, Jesus Christ
that transfigures and fully fills every culture.
Lord Jesus, we praise and thank you
because you have made each one of us,
really sharing our lives,
loving us until the end,
so that we may have Life in all its fullness.
Help us to welcome and give life
on behalf of all our brothers and sisters.
Send us your sanctifying Spirit,
raise up in this continent missionaries,
witnesses of your love and of your resurrection,
proclaimers of your fraternity and truth,
prophets of your justice and unity.
Lord, you who are One in diversity
with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
help our peoples to live
with respect for diversity,
united in the same charity.

Amen

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