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Posted by on in Updates from Novitiate

I imagine people have enjoyed their Christmas and New Year celebrations, at least that's what I get from all the comments and pictures on Facebook, twitter, Instagram etc - anyway, the last short update I sent was around 'thanksgiving time', end of November. Since then it has been all systems go!


From Thanksgiving to Christmas I don't actually think we stopped! From decorating to vocation drives, to classes to 'apostolate', a very busy time - plus I had to do the thing I dislike the most in all the world.... Christmas Shopping! Of course, as most know, I'm one of them that leaves it all to the last minute, yes, I went shopping Christmas Eve! You think shopping at home is bad? Try shopping in America! During this time I had my first international visitor, David O'Malley came over to spend some time with us - he gave a number of fantastic workshops and reflections on the preventive system. His visit was a great breath of fresh air for me and the other novices were really grateful to get his insights on religious and Salesian life.

Within our schools all the young people were under enormous pressure as they were completing their end of semester finals - I'm sure you can imagine when the bell rang to the start of the break, our young people shot through those doors like cats chasing mice!

For the Christmas season, we celebrated Midnight Mass with families of the area at 8pm, then as a Community we unveiled our 'secret Santa's' after which of course we welcomed Jesus into the world the only way we could...Karaoke! It's become our year's fun thing to do! So that took us well on in to the night.



Christmas day was very special - after speaking to my family and friends, we welcomed to the house all of the SDB's that live here in the south of California for our 'family' Christmas Meal. What a great experience that was, all of us coming together to celebrate! I know Kevin in his house in the north, Don Bosco Hall, did something similar. As you can imagine, Christmas was quite hard for us novices, as for most of us, this year was the first time we'd spend the holidays away from family and friends but thankfully the SDB's out here really made us all feel a part of the family.

Once the cleaning was finished our holidays started! Boxing Day we took the 6 hour drive up north to Berkeley and San Francisco; whilst there we visited all the Salesian places including the Provincial house and the first Salesian house ever in the States. A great trip that has really refreshed us and got us ready for the next semester of study and continued discernment.

We are now in our second week back, normality has set in and the 'project of life' in firmly in my hands as I study it day in and day out! Its full steam ahead now to February when we'll be seeing Martin Coyle and the other 4 Provincials as they gather together to discuss our progress and next steps! Fun!

Happy Feast of Don Bosco to you all when it comes.

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Posted by on in Updates from Novitiate

So, it's been over a month since I last wrote. Time has certainly flown by! It only feels like yesterday that the novitiate started but yet we are already a quarter the way through, which is actually very scary to think about!


The last time I wrote, we were preparing to head up north for effectively our half term break, though actually out here they don't get half terms like us, instead they have 'mid-terms' which I thought was just an American way of saying half term but it's not, they actually spend the week doing tests! Examinations! Practical and theory! They seem to work hard out here, however saying that, the schools seem to have a lot of days off and half days, so really those days must add up to a half term, would you not agree?

Anyway our visit to the north, the purpose of the visit was 3 fold; 1. To give us novices a little break from studies 2. To go on a small pilgrimage around the Californian coast line missions 3. To see the site of Camp St. Francis and the Watsonville Community.

Let's start with point 1. We needed time off, my goodness; doing the same things over and over each day can really drive an extroverted soul up the wall. (Hey I know, believe it or not I am extroverted!, well I'm on the border [this make me sound ill; I'm not ill]) anyhow, yes so we needed the break.

2. The missions pilgrimage; in short on our way up and then back down the coastline we stopped at a number of missions; the missions were founded predominately by Fr Serra, a Franciscan priest to help the faithful receive an education in the faith, a decent knowledge of life etc. a lot of them are still active parish communities. To see a few of them 1 or 2 was quite nice, get a feeling of the culture back then, see how the poor and less fortunate lived and so on. The only problem is, as the missions were mainly founded by the same guy, they all pretty much looked the same, so by the 8th mission, those of us that don't appreciate culture as much as others got extremely bored! You got it in one, I got so bored!

3. Camp St. Francis! For those of you that have been there I'm sure you'll understand when I say WOW! What a place, it's on top of a hill that leads down directly to the beach! Great place! So that was our trip up north in a nutshell.

Once arriving back at the novitiate, we, of course were thrown in to the deep end with a 3 day workshop on Fides et Ratio (faith and reason) written by JPII on religious life and Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel) written by Pope Francis - to be honest, it was worth it. Two great documents written by two amazing leaders of the faith! The month of November has just since then worked its way to an end. We have continued with our; studies, apostolate, faith growth and all that good holy stuff novices are meant to do! We have been extremely lucky - normally a novitiate community may get a visit from one of the general council (big bosses in Rome) MAY GET being the big words here, however we have pushed the boat out and have had two general Councillors visit us, within the space of a week! Fr Guillermo Basanes SDB Councillor for the Missions and Fr Tim Ploch SDB Councillor for the Inter-American region both made a pit stop on their journeys back to Rome for the December meetings. A privilege to meet both of them, especially Fr Tim who was previously the Provincial of USA West, the province we are in!


Also within this month, I have had the honour of being a part of the retreat team, guiding 172 young people through a day retreat! My Lord, that was amazing! The young people just seemed to really enjoy the day and really took an interesting in what they were being asked to do! Amazing, great guys! I also got the chance to be a part of the vocations team for an event of sharing - these events happen all over the place out here, the religious and diocesan clergy are not afraid to ask young people, ''is God calling you?'' - in the UK I think we need to learn from the Americans on this one especially at this time as we celebrate the Bicentenary of our father and teacher AND the year of Consecrated life! We need to stand up and say, yes we live a great life; yes we love God; yes, sometimes it's hard; no we will never give up! Food for thought maybe... can you tell I'm in discernment! Things seem to become so clear but at a click of your fingers your mind is blown to pieces! IT'S GREAT!

Anyway, I think I've taken up at lot of space here! Sorry Jonny, sorry Bob :P

Just a last thought, tomorrow, today, yesterday, last Thursday (really depends when this gets put out and you read it!) we celebrate, celebrated etc Thanksgiving a holiday out here were everyone stops... gathers together... and gives thanks. It's actually a really beautiful concept, stopping... Coming together.... Giving thanks

Thank you for your continued support through prayers for me and my brothers out here

Thank you for everything you do for the Salesians

Thanks you for being you

Thank you

Peace and love


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Posted by on in Uncategorized




This is my last installment from the XXIII FMA Chapter, which actually concluded on Saturday 15th November with a wonderful mass celebrated by the Rector Major, Don Angel. He has accompanied us at various times over the last two months. Using the icon of Emmaus which was presented in the Working Document and re-chosen to accompany the Chapter Document, 'Broaden your horizons... With the young...' he re-connected our Chapter journey to that of the disciples asking us to do as they did after their encounter with Jesus...leave without haste for our provinces and communities to share the Chapter journey.

To be honest the whole experience has been one of communion, friendship and seeing our FMA family with a worldwide view. As the departures started on Sunday and Monday there was a definite delight to be going home and a sense of looking to the future mingled with a sense that we had shared a very unique experience and had come to know each other and our various realities very well indeed.


We invite you to join us, as we share the Chapter findings, insights, suggestions and choices which came to birth as the 194 Chapter members looked at challenges presented today in our work for the young and the necessary changes of mentality required to meet needs and make choices.

Sr. Connie and myself will be sharing the Chapter journey in four places up and down the country. All members of the Salesian Family are welcome just let us know so we can have enough tea ready to share as well as some great insights into our wonderful FMA journey...

Have you heard?

We have only been home a week and already we have shared the Good News of the XXIII FMA Chapter with the help of Becky who also attended our Chapter along with Adelle.


We had great meetings in Battersea on Saturday 22nd November, in the lovely newly refurbished Sacred Heart Parish Centre and where 45-50 members of our Salesian Family attended and on Sunday 23rd November in the lovely Elmthorpe Community setting, between 50-55 members of our Salesian family attended! There was a great buzz and energy around! There was a great response as we shared the challenges, changes and choices which emerged from our Chapter. We are looking forward to sharing our message with our Salesian Family north of the border. Our next two venues are in Blundellsands, Liverpool on December 4th from 7.00pm-9.00pm and in Newlands, Glasgow on December 10th from 7.00pm-9.00pm. If you live in those areas why not get in touch and come along. To be honest it is a case of 'miss it...miss out' big time and we wouldn't want that!

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Posted by on in FMA Rome Calling

The long awaited day for the FMA General Chapter’s audience with Pope Francis had arrived…

It was a truly wonderful experience from the moment we walked up the stairs past the Swiss Guard, something I have always wanted to do, into the interior of the splendid surroundings of the Vatican. After being led up several flights of magnificent marble stairs we arrived in the even more wonderful Clement VIII room where we were to await Pope Francis. I am sure you can imagine the huge emotion of all 194 of us and the chatter and excitement as we waited for the Holy Father to arrive. We had a false alarm when a cardinal scuttled through, smiling broadly as he acknowledged our expection that he was the Holy Father.

Finally, the side door was thrown open and Pope Francis came in, his presence filling the whole room which had erupted in warm cheering and clapping.

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Mother Yvonne made a short address going over some essential elements of the Chapter work, as well as assuring the Holy Father of our fidelity to the Church and our desire to continue sharing our charism for the good of many young people who are suffering in so many ways today. Pope Francis and Mother Yvonne shared a few homely moments. Mother Yvonne shared our great desire to see Laura Vicuna cannonised but he said we needed to produce a miracle, she replied saying we had submitted many but the doctors did not accept them so we were now praying for the doctors…he laughed!

Pope Francis then made an address showing that he knew all about the Chapter and our contribution to the world of the young. He thanked us and asked us to make sure we stayed in Patagonia, part of his mission to the Church in Argentina!

He did not have time to greet us individually unfortunately, but he did sit and have a group photo, but I doubt if Sr. Connie and I will be visible since we were right at the back by a strange quirk of fate which we will be willing to share with anyone who is interested when we return in the near future!

We arrived home really happy to have had this wondeful opportunity and can assure all the members of the Salesin family that we held all present during the Apostolic blessing which we were fortunate enough to receive.

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Posted by on in FMA Rome Calling

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I am sure you all know that there is no such thing as half term here in Italy?


All 194 of us have been very busily engaged in the elections of our Mother General and General Council (visit ) for all the details. It has been a time of grace and lots of prayerful discernment,but no easy process. We were assisted through the process by Fr. Cisto Rey a wonderful Claritian father, who very gently guided us.

In thanksgiving we went to St. Mary Major Basilica, apparently this is where Pope Francis goes to ask for the help of Our Lady and to thank her on his return from his visits outside Rome. It is a lovely church we felt blessed to have the opportunity to go there on pilgrimage. There has not been a lot of time to see around Rome so this was a very welcome break.

We are now entering the final phase of the Chapter with lots of open files to be sorted and the final document to be agreed stage by stage. However, we are blessed to have an audience with Pope Francis to look forward to on Nov. 8th an unique opportunity. We promise to remember all the members of our Salesian family at home during the event. One thing that is very apparent here is that we do genuinely feel the warmth of belonging to a big Salesian family. The local SDB have been fantastic celebrating mass daily with so much goodness and fraternal affection. We have met many SDB Cardinals, it is heart warming to see such great bonds between the whole Salesian Family...Don Bosco must be pleased in this his bi-centenary year.

Now, we are looking forward to seeing everyone when we get back and would like to extend an invitation to all to come and share our experience of the General Chapter. There are 4 venues:


  • Battersea November 22nd, 11am-1pm,
  • Cowley November 23rd, 2pm-4pm
  • Liverpool Blundellsands 4t December. 7pm-9pm
  • Scotland Newlands 10th December 7pm-9pm.

We do hope many of you will manage to come along and hear about this event which really touches all our Salesian family, Church and many young people throughout the world. It will be a lovely opportunity to catch up with everyone. We hope to see you at one or other of the venues! Until then...

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