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Ste Lloyd

Ste Lloyd

Ste Lloyd's blog from The Pilgrimage of the Relics of Don Bosco, which saw Don Bosco journey around the country in early January 2013.

Posted by on in Updates from Novitiate

The Lord has risen, Alleluia Alleluia- Easter is my favourite time of year!

Hi all, hope all is well in the motherland. It's been a good few months since my last update, things have been busy here! From Bi-centennial celebrations, to province training/workshops, to vocation events, to school events, to archdiocesan events, madness has hit the novitiate!

 

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Im going to try and keep this as short as possible, so I may miss some points but I can tell you about them when I come home. First thing I should probably mention is Fr Martin's visit - oh sorry it was an official visit so, the visit of the Fr Provincial! Joking aside it was an amazing breath of fresh air to have a fellow kingsman in the house (side note, kingsman, great film- go see it, so too is Fast and Furious 7- go see it, oh and American sniper!) Anyway, sorry Martin, seriously it was great to have him here telling us about the growth of the province and the updates for the summer celebrations, all sounds very exciting, I'm really gutted that I'm going to miss most things! We also had a good catch up, the guys here were shocked at how well myself and Martin get on- I told them in our province we respect each other for who we are not what we are- titles can be very important in certain parts of the world- actually even in our own country! We forget that behind the title there is a child of God who deserves more respect than any title! It was also great fun to have Fr Michael Casey (Irish provincial), he was a great laugh!

Once they left we started preparing ourselves for the LA religious education congress! What an amazing production. If you have never been I strongly recommend going. It is a really powerful, thought provoking celebration of Religious Education worldwide! The Salesians this year took over a section of the market space- Salesian stickers and Don Bosco faces were everywhere- Br Al Vu and his team really know how to get a show rocking! The LA congress brought me another gift- Gerry O'Shaughnessy came over! Again it was great to see him and have a good number of catch ups- talking about the Promised Land that is Bootle! Not forgetting one of the most beautiful Salesian parishes in the world (of course im biased) - St James'. A quick note to thank publicly all those that sent gifts through Gerry, you really shouldn't have, but thank you none the less.

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A few other events that have happened are:

Helping to lead retreats at the centre here
Provincial leadership meeting- hosted in our community
A number of vocation talks
A media workshop given by Fr John Roche- director of Don Bosco hall, Berkley where Kevin O'Donnell is at the moment.
Camp St. Francis assignments and planning meeting and so on
As you can tell during our time here in the Novitiate, I have had a number of life changing experiences; having the courage to say yes and be here is one, two trips to San Francisco, visiting a number of the Serra Missions on the coast line of the state, partaking in retreats, workshops, province events etc but nothing will compare to the unforgettable time we've just had in Tijuana, Mexico.

Sitting down to write this reflection has been hard; so many say, ''why is it hard, you sit and reflect all day anyway?'' However those that have been to Tijuana, have experienced the gifts so willingly given by the people there who do not have much, but all they do have they give, will fully understand where I'm coming from. My word for the week was Surrender, two reasons why;

Firstly - very practical - we had no idea what was happening! JC (Missions delegate) didn't tell us anything- the situation was very simple, when I know and you need to know, I'll tell you! Now for a person like me who knows things in advance, the idea of not having a clue what was going on should have killed me. It didn't - this is where the second reasoning behind my word comes in. It didn't kill me because we were being guarded by an overwhelming sense of peace therefore we didn't need to know exactly what was going on, the Holy Spirit took care of it. To be in Tijuana was a gift, however, to be in Tijuana during Holy week - no words can describe. As followers of Christ, holy week is the most painful but also most joyful week in our whole calendar - we celebrate the gift of family through our Eucharistic feast - we are filled with pain and suffering from the death of our brother - we mourn - then we praise and rejoice as our family is once again complete! I got to experience this great sense of YES during this Holy week in this beautiful place.

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To be with the people of the Salesian places, young and old- SDB and lay gave me a rounded understanding of who I am, and what I am to do. My vocation is simple - to love. Tijuana has given me so much more than I could ever give for that I am sincerely thankful.

So that's it, for now - a number of months compiled into this brief note. This past week we have had the chance to settle during the spring break, we are entering into the final stages really - at the moment we are in the process of writing our evaluations of each other for the spring term, but more importantly we are in the very crucial stage of discernment as on May 24th - the feast of our Lady Help of Christians - we are due to hand in our letters of acceptance to profession. So please, continue to keep myself and all my brother novices and candidates (aspirants) in your prayers.

Love and prayers to all

The Lord has truly risen- Alleluia

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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!

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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.

 

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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!

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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!

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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

Ste!

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The final day! An extremely emotional day for everyone, starting with our host mum, Maria. Myself and Luke are so grateful to the whole family for putting up with us the past few days. We left Basildon with new friends and great memories.

Travelling to Battersea, everyone was on a high (and still are), singing disney songs, once again. We arrived at Battersea, went for a cuppa, then began setting up for the last time.

Half four came and so did the VIPs! The service started and Jess and James gave two wonderfully different accounts of their journeys these past few weeks. We finished the day our goodbye to Donny B; there was not a dry eye in the team.

Travelling around with Don Bosco has been fantastic, a once in a lifetime opportunity. Spending time with the relics today has to be my SOJ; it has been a long stint but I personally wouldn’t change anything. Meeting thousands of people who love Don Bosco as much as we do! This tour, pilgrimage, life journey - whatever you want to call it, has changed me and hopefully many others as well, that’s what Gerry promised. Now he [DB] is off to Ireland and I’m going to work a retreat, revived in the Salesian spirituality!

 

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Final day for the public. It’s been amazing being a part of this once in a lifetime adventure. Parts have been hard, parts have been easy, but it has all been worth while. 

We started our last day with a 6am start, travelling to Southwark for Mass and a long day with all our Salesian schools from down here. 

At the end of the day, we led Donny B out for the last time to the vans and went home for a cooked meal with our families. Our host family have been amazing, so welcoming and generous. Last day for us tomorrow, time to celebrate and give thanks. Then a week of retreat.

 

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Days are rolling into one now. Bro Sandy calls days by the names of the places we are in ie. Southwark Day 1.

So this morning was great. Got up at 10, went into my host family’s kitchen, sat down and got waited on with a lovely cooked breakfast. Afterwards, we packed up and left for Southwark.

Arriving at St George’s, we were greeted by Sunday Mass attendees, and we therefore had to wait to set up the Pilgrim Experience. The day continued and we made a line of honour for Don Bosco to enter; by this time, the queue had taken over the whole outside area. MADNESS. From then on right up to Mass, people were standing and waiting to come in and see Don Bosco. Our day finished with Mass with Archbishop Peter.

Day 12, the final day for the public, starts tomorrow and with the promise of over 200 young people coming, it should be a great day to end our journey on.

 

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Posted by on in Don Bosco Pilgrimage

Westminster Cathedral was packed to the brim for 2pm Mass with the Bishop and Salesian concelebrants, it was great! - apart from the organ for the hymn to Don Bosco…but even then that was quite nice also.

The day started at the unreasonable time of 5:30am for me as I had to shower and explain again to myself the reason I’ve been doing this. Myself and Luke got dropped off by Mick, our southern dad for the next five days, to Fr Dominic’s church where we met the rest of the team. 

The day went ahead at its usual pace, then Mass. After we said our really quite chaotic goodbye to Don Bosco and operation tidyup began, we travelled back to our host families for a rest in preparation for a host community carvery.

Gerry finished the night with a fantastic speech about the amazingness of the parish here in Basildon.

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Posted by on in Don Bosco Pilgrimage

Another day, another dollar. After a fantastic night’s sleep in mine ans Luke’s host family’s house, we headed on the road for Westminster. When we arrived, we were greeted by Donny B, so we lined up to walk in with him. Following us were eager pilgrims, flocking like sheep to their shepherd. The crowding, however, became overwhelming, so much so that we had to give DB a little break and cover him whilst we set up the Pilgrimage Experience.

The day continued and thousands flocked into the cathedral. 5:30pm came and so, too, did Latin mass; for those who know me, I don’t do Latin, but seeing pilgrims and parishioners alike celebrating Christ and Donny B in our lives moved me that little bit.

Final Liturgy again was amazing, the sounds of everyone singing was great. Day ten tomorrow, starting at 8:00am for pilgrims, that means a 6:30am start for us! Mass with the bishop at 2, then we leave for Southwark and a meal with our host community!

 

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Another day of smiling faces, this time in welsh Wales. The promise of the day was that it was going to be a quiet one with only a handful of pilgrims in at anyone time…oh were we wrong! As soon as the doors opened, 4 schools groups came walking through the doors, it was GREAT!! 

My group were from Archbishop McGrath, a great group of kids who were not afraid to ask questions and get up close and personal with Donny B. David told us in debrief that without knowing it we brought the oratory to Wales. 

Mass started our afternoon, again another great Mass. Lunch came and so too did the Bishop, he came and had lunch with us which is something that really did strike me…a Bishop having lunch with crew…amazing. My SOJ (source of joy) today though has to be the message two young people told David, that really has made me start to think…great day. London tomorrow!

 

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Posted by on in Don Bosco Pilgrimage

 

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First day in Birmingham and what a day it was! Leaving Savio House at 6am in the morning to travel south, it’s good that we all love Donny B, but faces (especially mine) that early are not pretty.

We arrived at the beautiful St Chads and as we walked into the cathedral, everything had been set up for us by the tech team and Gerry, Steve and Martin.

The morning was very much all hands on deck as Birmingham Catholic Youth Service had arranged for 17 primary schools to come on the Pilgrimage Experience. Lunchtime came at the same time as Mass; when Sue came and told me to have lunch during Mass I was shocked…but by that time I was starving as I was late up this morning ooops!

The afternoon brought a calmer setting as we only had one High School, our good friends, All Saints. Then the Prayer Vigil started; about 5mins before the start, Gill came to me and asked whether I would mind giving a short testimony about my experience with the Salesians. You can imagine how nervous I was, but I did it.

Day off tomorrow, I cannot wait.

 

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Final day in Liverpool, what can I say, one of the best days so far I must say…. 2000 young people pasted through the cathedral doors plus another 1500 pilgrims who just wanted to come and celebrate Don Bosco’s life. It was so uplifting for me to be able to talk about Don Bosco with the young people from both my schools - Savio Salesian College and All Saints Primary, seeing their smiling face as we played around in the cathedral with spinney plates, diablo and showing them magic tricks.

We finished the day with, of course, Mass, which again was well-attended; main celebrant was Bishop Tom and the Bishop of Middlesbrough also preached the homily. He spoke about the goodness of Don Bosco in people’s lives and the greatness of the Salesian family today.

And finally at the end of Mass, the road crew led Don Bosco out of the cathedral and formed a line to cheer him off; it brought tears to many of the teams’ eyes, and also the visiting Priests’. VIVA DON BOSCO!!!

6am start to Birmingham tomorrow!

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Another fantastic day, not just because we were in my home town but because today has shown how many hearts Donny B has touched over the years. This whole experience so far is really showing me personally that our, yes im using a collective ‘our’, spirituality is so wounderful and as a young person I’m so glad that I’ve been given this chance to work so closely with so many wonderful people. 

The crew have worked so hard, today especially, to spread the good news of Donny B. I really do encourage as many people as possible to come tomorrow to live everything I’m saying here. There have been so many people already that have said this experience has touched them in a way they didn’t think it would. VIVA DON BOSCO!!!

 

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Posted by on in Don Bosco Pilgrimage

 

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Day three: a quieter day in Carfin. Today we set about our duties seamlessly like we’d been doing this for years. Martin led us in the 10am Parish Mass which was a a lot calmer than yesterday’s masses in Glasgow. As the day went on I moved round on rotation to the prayer writing section where my day’s SOJ (source of joy) happened: a brother and sister came up to me saying they liked the picture on the boards, but they thought there was a lot of writing, so we decided to draw some prayers instead. 

That, to me, is what the pilgrimage is about: allowing young people to find their faith in an easy, relative way. Two amazing young people, who came to say goodbye to me at the end of the day. To close the day, Bishop Devine came and led mass, which was an experience in itself…for a older man he can’t half talk fast! We then said our goodbyes to Scotland, moving on to Savio in Bollington and tomorrow to the land of scouse, LIVERPOOL.

 

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WHAT A DAY…starting with a fry-up then off to St Andrew’s. Being able to walk the Pilgrim Experience in a silent cathedral gave me a sense of belonging to the Salesian family. Guests start to arrive and at first the worries started; what am I going to say to people? What are people going to say to me? Do I know enough about spirituality?

But as soon as the first group of children came in, those worries disappeared! As the day continued, so too did my love for the family and Donny B. If today was anything to go by, we are in for a great pilgrimage…tour…big family PARTY!!!

 

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Posted by on in Don Bosco Pilgrimage

First day of the pilgrimage. Fantastic! Day went off without a hitch. Moving from Savio House to join a number of Salesians at Bolton for a service of sending. Afterward, the journey to Scotland and we began singing and shouting the Bosco hymn up the motorway, arriving at Glasgow Cathedral for 6:30pm to set up; sails, boards, and of course Donny B on show. We finished with a McDonalds and a beer in the Premier Inn.

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Posted by on in Don Bosco Pilgrimage

The following is his 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: newsdesk@rualink.net.

Enjoy! - Salesian Link

 

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DON BOSCO TODAY

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