Late last term, Salesian College Farnborough hosted the second joint workshop on Salesian Leadership for our schools in the South. The half-day event was led by Miss Alex Kent, Assistant Head at Salesian College, Fr Patrick Sherlock SDB, Chaplain, and Fr Gerry Briody SDB, Provincial (pictured above).
Salesian College were very welcoming of students from Chertsey and Battersea, and made sure the gathering got off to a great start by very kindly providing everyone with a free lunch. The ice breakers led by Alex Kent were the perfect way to get students from the three schools mingling, so that by the time the real work started they were comfortable enough with each other to have meaningful discussions around leadership.
In the final days of Advent, as our waiting draws to a close, we think of Mary, the first evangeliser, and, following Don Bosco's example, entrust to her our own vocation in life and our mission to bring the Gospel to others through our actions and words. On this last Sunday of Advent, we also pray for all expectant mothers.
Isaiah 7: 14 The maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel.
The teaching of our Church
May the great Mother of God, queen of the apostles, hear our prayers and call down upon the heralds of the Gospel the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Pope Benedict XV, Maximum Illud 1919
Let us draw inspiration from Mary, Mother of Evangelisation. She welcomed the Word in the depths of humble faith. May the Virgin Mother help us to say our own “yes”, conscious of the urgent need to make the Good News of Jesus resound in our time. May she intercede for us that we can acquire the holy audacity to discover new ways to bring the gift of salvation to every man and woman. Pope Francis, World Mission Day 2017
Salesian thought We believe that Mary is present among us and continues her “mission as Mother of the Church and Help of Christians”. We entrust ourselves to her, the humble servant in whom the Lord has done great things, that we may become witnesses to the young of her Son’s boundless love. Salesian Constitutions, 8
Adapted from Baptised & Sent, Salesian Missions, Rome, by Salesians GBR
On the centenary of Maximum Illud, Pope Benedict XV's letter to the Church on carrying the Gospel message throughout the world, we focus this Advent on our mission as people baptised and sent into the world to each play our part in sharing the Good News.
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
In our Lenten reflection this week, the Rector Major discusses joy lived out in a holy life, and Fr Bob Coupe SDB looks back at the inspiring holiness of those who supported and formed his faith and Salesian vocation over the past 68 years. Above: Fr Bob with footballers from Shrigley in 1969.
1941. I’m standing on the corner of the largest playground I’ve ever seen. There are about twenty of us, all strangers. Some have unfamiliar accents -they’re from Bolton, Westhoughton, Leigh, Bury, Edenfield. We’re waiting nervously to take an entrance exam for Thornleigh. We see a small figure approaching. He’s dressed in a cassock, he’s quite stout, we can’t see his feet. But he gives us a big smile, and asks ‘Are you all good runners?’ It was Fr Poggio. The first Salesian I’d ever seen. Little did I know that this was a day that would define the rest of my life.
We take another look together at the Rector Major's Strenna 'Holiness for you too', as we continue to seek holiness around us and within us during Holy Week. Our closing thoughts for Lent 2019 come from Fr John Dickson SDB, who considers the holiness he sees as a University Chaplain. (Fr John pictured above with Chaplaincy colleague, Nina).
One of our Muslim students once said to me: Where you find ‘goodness’, follow it!
Indeed in my seven years at Royal Holloway, I have been blessed to find both ‘goodness and holiness’ in abundance among so many students and staff in the apparently unlikely atmosphere of a prevailingly secular University.
I have found ‘Goodness and holiness’ in young people for whom ‘fairness and honesty’ demands ‘transparency’ in dealing with others. ‘Goodness and holiness’ is evident in young people who have the courage to seek for the truth even though it may be unpopular and who are prepared to challenge the prevailing view. It shines in young people who generously share their enterprises and develop those with disability or who are in difficulty. It is clear in young people who volunteer to help others when it is massively inconvenient for themselves; in young people who help friends who get into difficulty by referring them to staff who can help; In young people who develop their faith by building a community that prays and plays together.
Savio Salesian College Chaplaincy Assistant, Hazel Fort, writes about the value of taking students out of school for a retreat in a totally different setting.
‘Come aside --- to a quiet place and rest awhile.’ Mark 6:31
We have just completed the third of our five annual retreats for Savio students. Each form is given the opportunity of spending a day away from school concentrating on a given topic prepared and delivered by Father Ruszniak. These ‘away-days’ are very popular. This time it was the turn of our Year 9s. They were reflecting on their future and they were shown a clip from ‘Back to the Future.’ As with Year 9s all over the country, this is their pivotal year: choosing subjects to study at GCSE level that will help them to achieve their goals. They reflected on past years and faced their future – some with trepidation; some reluctantly. At the end of the reflection, they were invited to write a letter to their future-selves outlining their hopes and fears. These letters were sealed in a self-addressed envelope then put away with a personal prayer in the chapel until they reach Year 11. When they reach Year 11, and are about to leave school, they can open their letters and see what they have achieved: whether their goals are still the same; and how have they changed - because change they will.
We continue our Lenten reflections based on the Rector Major's Strenna 'Holiness for you too', with extracts from his commentary on the Strenna, thoughts on holiness from members of the Salesian Family, and scripture readings and prayers for you to pray on during each week of the Lenten season.
We are now mid way through Lent, and this week, we hear from Fr Kieran, Director of our Mission Office, on holiness in the missionary role of Salesians.Photo: Fr Kieran (centre) with Project Europe missionaries, Br Joe and Br Greg.
I count it as one of the great blessings of my life as a Salesian of Don Bosco that I have had the opportunity to live with other Salesians who have been missionaries. How has holiness revealed itself in the lives of these wonderful confreres? Perhaps I can speak of it to you by recalling a couple of lines from three songs?
Over 100 members of the Salesian Family came along last Saturday and Sunday to the two seminars delivered by Fr Louis Grech SDB on accompanying young people. The participants in Bollington and Battersea included Salesian priests, sisters and Brothers, youth workers, Cooperators, and parishioners, all of whom shared a commitment to young people, and wanted to know more about Don Bosco’s method of supporting and nurturing them spiritually.
Our Provincial, Fr Gerry Briody, welcomed Fr Louis, and talked about the powerful final document from the Synod on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment, which acknowledges the importance of listening to and understanding young people, both vital elements of the Salesian approach.
Assisted by well-chosen and very amusing video clips, Fr Louis talked about the capacity of the young for adapting to change, and about the need to speak the language of the young before we can properly listen to and guide them.
Our reflections this Lent are based on the Strenna (or gift) of the Rector Major for 2019 - 'Holiness for you too'. We present 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, on International Day of Happiness, Theo and George, volunteers on the Savio House Retreat Team, write about where they see holiness and happiness in their work with the young. Photo: the Savio House Team 2018-18.