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Posted by on in Don Bosco Pilgrimage

Wow what an amazing day! Over 1800 people turned up which was way above the number I was expecting. Half the people I spoke to said they were also going to Carfin tomorrow too, so who knows how many will turn up! At times it all got a little confusing as we settled into the needs of the pilgrimage experience but it was a fantastic day conversing with people who had taken part in the journey of the experience from primary school children to elderly people who “knew” Don Bosco when they were younger but had come to reignite their knowledge and understand who was and is…

The day was topped off by Bro Sandy telling us that a lady who came to visit said she was moved by the experience but especially us in the road crew/pilgrim leaders and our enthusiasm. It just cemented and gave a real reason to why we are doing what we’re doing.




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It has been a mixed day of emotions! I started feeling very excited and ready to hit the road, being told a couple of times to calm down. However, when we reached Thornleigh, on the first leg of our journey, it hit me that I was going to see Don Bosco and it unsettled me. It unsettled me enough to reduce me to tears of sadness when I saw the casket; I felt like someone who has been so alive in my life had died and I was seeing him at a rosary. 

Once we got to Glasgow and set up the beautiful cathedral and I saw the casket in place, the sadness had gone and was replaced with excitement. Once again now I can’t wait for day two to begin. Woop!




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The following is her experience of travelling around as part of the Pilgrimage Team on The Pilgrimage of the Relics of Don Bosco, in January 2013.

If you have any comments, questions, or would like to share your experience of the pilgrimage, please email us at

Enjoy! - Salesian Link

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Yesterday the Daily Mirror listed twenty five secrets of a long life. A few weeks before The +Daily Mirror ran a similar article on a longer life. Tucked away in the listing were references to faith. In the December article people were encouraged to " something" and in the January article they were encouraged to "go to church" in order to live a longer life. These items were not commented upon especially and seemed to sit uncomfortably alongside other advice to have regular sex and eat three walnuts a day.

The persistence of the spiritual and religious dimension in popular culture can be surprising and perhaps seen as evidence of a nostalgia for a simpler and more certain culture. But that view would ignore the evidence that faith does matter. The evidence for that comes in research time and time again that believing and attending a church does make a difference. Take this piece for example:

"Again, the health benefits of religion and spirituality do not stem solely from healthy lifestyles. Many researchers believe that certain beliefs, attitudes, and practices associated with being a spiritual person influence health. In a recent study of people with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), those who had faith in God, compassion toward others, a sense of inner peace, and were religious had a better chance of surviving for a long time than those who did not live with such belief systems. Qualities like faith, hope, and forgiveness, and the use of social support and prayer seem to have a noticeable effect on health and healing". link

This type of research-based evidence underlines that we are spiritual beings and that to be fully human meas to be engaged spiritually with life, with others and with ourselves. We are more alive, more engaged, more healthy and better connected when we believe. That means that faith and spirituality confer an evolutionary advantage on believers.Emile Durkheim, to many the father of sociology, said that the person who has met their God does not just seem stronger or heathier, they are stronger and healthier. Faith has real effects in life.

The expression of faith in these terms marks out a pathway for faith development in the future. To some religious people it may seem to reduce religion to just another humanist philosophy. To more secular minds the research may seem to be less than scientific. Both parties are challenged by this type of research and the struggle to make sense of it will take our culture forward to a better synthesis about faith and well being. So don't expect the faith dimension to disappear from the listings for a long life in next years Daily Mirror feature.

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Posted by on in Don Bosco Relics

There is a story heard by many school children about a battle between the sun and the storm who decided to test their skills by making a traveller remove his cloak. The storm tried first and hit the traveller with wind and snow and rain and ice. The more the storm blew the tighter the traveller held onto the cloak. Eventually the traveller stopped and hid from the storm. The sun tried next and gently warmed the air and the ground after the storm and as it grew warmer the traveller began to loosen the cloak and eventually took it off. The sun had beaten the fury of the storm with gentleness.

The story reminds us that gentleness untangles hearts and minds and that taking people by storm creates fear, anger and isolation. That at least was Don Bosco's view. He reminded his youth workers that more could be achieved with a spoonful of honey than with a barrel full of vinegar. He was using an image from his  inspirational patron, St Francis de Sales whose feast day is January 24th.  

Gentleness was one of St Francis' major insights into spiritual life and an attitude that left no room for the hard-hearted and punitive images of God that still haunt the church despite the words and example of a gentle and humble Jesus.  Francis was working in the post reformation period of church history and had to manage the tensions between protestants and catholics in Geneva. Exiled from his own town and surrounded by the anger of the cathedral chapter many wanted to start a full scale military attack to re-take Geneva. In the discussion Francis said this:

I propose neither steel or powder; nor will I levy an army of mercenaries with no faith or piety. . . . It is by charity that the walls of Geneva will be breached, by love the city will be invaded, by kindness it will be won over.
This gentleness will have been viewed by many as naive but it reminds us now of the work of Mahatma Gandhi and the words of Don Bosco who spoke about a young person's heart being a fortress that will only be opened up by loving kindness. The same could be said of every friendship, marriage, family and community. Only love is worthy of ultimate belief and only love can open up, energise and heal what has been broken or stunted in its growth.

Gentleness disarms, leaves people free, reassures, waits, hopes and believes in the goodness of others. That is the real profile of the God we see in the Gospels; The Father of whom Jesus spoke and The Spirit that heals and inspires. Whenever you find a God who is not gentle, forgiving, optimistic and patient you will have found a false idol.That is what many young people have discovered in our church and they are right to reject it.

A God who judges, places impossible burdens on young lives, condemns whole groups because of their orientation and excludes groups from full communion projects an image of God that no one has a right to bow down to. We need to think again as a church about the primacy of loving kindness and use that to keep our fearful voices and narrow minds in a wider embrace of God's gentleness. Especially on this feast of God's gentleman saint.

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Spring 2019

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