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At the present time there are five secondary schools in England in which the Salesians of Don Bosco are actively involved –St John Bosco College, WandsworthThornleigh Salesian College, BoltonSavio Salesian College, BootleSalesian School, ChertseySalesian College, Farnborough; – and one secondary school in which the Salesian Sisters are actively involved – St John Bosco Arts College, Croxteth, Liverpool.

There are also a good number of parish primary schools in England and Scotland where Salesians and Salesian Sisters are very much involved as teachers, chaplains and governors.

As the number of SDBs and FMAs actively involved in our schools continues to fall, new ways are being sought to ensure that our unique way of Salesian education is passed on to all those who work with us in our schools. Over the last few years  an annual conference has been held – usually in the autumn term – during which different groups of teachers working in our schools have reflected on various aspects of the Salesian educational charism.

The theme of this year’s one day conference was ‘educating young people to social justice’ and over 120 teachers from our different schools attended. Other initiatives have included short visits for different groups of teachers and governors to Turin and the other places around the city closely associated with Don Bosco’s life and ministry.


School Voice 2014

The 'School Voice' began again after a ‘fallow’ year last weekend (7-9 February). It saw the coming together of 4 Salesian Schools - Savio Salesian College Bootle, St. John Bosco Arts College Liverpool, Thornleigh Salesian College Bolton and Salesian College Farnborough.  

The reason they come together as school councils is so that they can share their experience of their schools and to get a sense of what it means to belong to the wider Salesian family. The atmosphere from the first few icebreakers was tremendous. The young people were mixing and it was difficult for an outsider like me to guess which school they had come with!

We listened to how each of the groups had progressed within their role as councillors within the school and how they had gone about attaining this achievement. We looked at the values of communication, respect, teamwork and trust in a fun and interactive way.

In the afternoon, (as predicted by Mr Moore), it rained!! -  Just as we were setting off for a walk!  

In the evening after each school wrote proposals for the coming year, we had a Mass of Commitment celebrated by Fr David O'Malley SDB, which really was a great experience. The young people began the service sitting in the shape of a cross to remind us of the sacrifice of Jesus and then later on in the Mass we moved into a circle to represent the wholeness which comes from the resurrection!

In the evening Sr Gill McCambridge FMA managed to fix the Karaoke machine, a thing which Sue thanked her for profusely!! The young people had a great night ‘singing’ to music from the 80’s and beyond. The staff were all enthused by this new beginning and Fr Jim Gallagher SDB commented on "how good it was to see a team now on this project."

A big thank you to all the schools who took part.

Below are a few pictures from the weekend

All Saints meet the Queen



Children from the Salesian parish of St James, Bootle, accompanied by the head teacher of All Saints RC School, Angela Holleran, teachers, Lynn Carsley and Catherine Eccleshall, together with their parish priest, Gerry O’Shaughnessy sdb were special guests of the Royal and Commonwealth Society at a special service of worship in the historic Westminster Abbey to celebrate the Commonwealth.

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II was joined by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Countess of Wessex and 1,000 children for the packed event. All major religious faiths across the Commonwealth were represented including Cardinal O’Brien from Scotland, Archbishop Nichols of Westminster (England) and Archbishop Stack of Cardiff (Wales).

The royals were treated to a performance of Hallelujah by Canadian singer Rufus Wainwright, the sounds of a South African township from the legendary Hugh Masekeli and a wild chimpanzee call from primatologist Dame Jane Goodall. Soprano Laura Wright, 21, from Sussex, also performed the diamond jubilee song Stronger As One. The song was mentioned in a recorded message by the Queen that also called on people to celebrate the Commonwealth’s ‘extraordinary cultural tapestry’. Alaya Girvin aged ten and a pupil of All Saints School, Bootle, described to the congregation the joy of her first Holy Communion Day at St James, while eight year old Charlie Fitzimmons, a fellow parishioner, presented a posy of flowers to the Countess of Wessex.

‘This year, our Commonwealth focus seeks to explore how we can share and strengthen the bond of Commonwealth citizenship we already enjoy by using our cultural connections to help bring us even closer together, as family and friends across the globe,’ the Queen said in her message. In a special exercise after the event, the Bootle children were able to work out that there was a Salesian presence in 48 of the 56 Commonwealth nations.

The day began with a tour of Parliament from our local Member of Parliament, Mr Joe Benton, who was the first ever lay chair of Governors of the Salesian College in Bootle. We were treated to a lovely lunch by Mr Benton MP and the Speaker of the House of Common, Mr John Bercow MP, who spoke to the children of need to be involved in the democratic process. At the end of the day Mr Hugh Masekela, the legendary South African musician and opponent of the inhuman system of apartheid, spoke to the children and posed for photographs with them.


Chertsey in the North West


chertseytour1201On a rainy Friday morning in January, 14 boys set off at 07:30 from Salesian School Chertsey accompanied by Dr Lydon and Mr Bicknell to play two games against Thornleigh Salesian College Bolton and Savio Salesian College Bootle.

After a relatively uneventful journey the team lost 2-3 in a close game to a Thornleigh. Following welcome refreshments with the Bolton team the boys travelled to Southport and settled into the Talbot Hotel. We then set off for a tour of the City of Liverpool, guided by Fr Gerard Briody SDB, Headteacher of Savio, accompanied by Br Sandy Fairley SDB. Despite his extremely busy schedule Fr Briody organised a comprehensive tour including a visit to Anfield and the Memorial to the Hillsborough Disaster victims.

The Chertsey team (yellow shirts) with the Bootle team

On the Saturday morning the team played Savio and lost 1-3 in a sporting game again played in very challenging weather conditions. Lunch was provided by our hosts who also agreed that we use the Don Bosco Centre where the team enjoyed games of table tennis and pool. We then set off to watch a Premier League Game at Goodison Park, Everton v Blackburn, for which tickets had been acquired for a very attractive price.

There is a long-standing tradition of Football Tours between the Salesian network of schools. The team of 2012 behaved in an exemplary fashion which was appreciated by our hosts. The team thanks, in particular, Mr Chris Bingley and Mr Stephen Talbot, PE teachers of Thornleigh and Savio respectively, and the Headteacher of Bootle who concerned himself with the minutest details to ensure that the tour was a success.

Year 10 Squad: William Brown, Bailey Mummery, Christian Paxia, Thomas Brown, Kieran Ahern, Lewis Hester, Adam Mooney, Jack Moore (captain), Fabrizio Feniello, Kai Stoneman, Oliver Tiernan, Carl Robert, Shaun Perryment, William Uncles

Dr J Lydon Assistant Headteacher


Three Islands Meeting



After the success of the 3-Islands meeting in Bollington last year, the Youth Ministry teams of the British, Irish and Maltese Provinces descended upon Maynooth for a weekend of sharing and learning.

The working motif for the weekend was ‘a journey to, in and from the desert’, as in the desert, our questions may not have answers, but it is a place where we can search and explore our questions. (more…)


Savio Salesian College in Observer Ethical Awards!



Savio Salesian College in Bootle was included in this years Observer Ethical Awards! The year 8 and year 9 Duke of Edinburgh Award group made a hybrid bird and bat box.

Read about it here, and see students and staff from Savio in a video about the bird/bat box on the Guardian website here.


Understanding Inculturation or How I changed



This is an interesting article by Brother Matt, a young Salesian Brother from Poland taken from Don Bosco Today (Summer 2010). Last year he completed a year’s work experience as a teaching assistant in a Salesian School in England

A car, a mobile, money and a girlfriend – that makes you a man nowadays. That’s the way some lads think. So many of those they consider heroes behave like children. They seem to lack responsibility, they indulge in foolish and dangerous behaviour, they use people; for them what they have is more important than who they are. So it was inevitable that at first the young people regarded me as an alien rather than a normal person. I tried to show them, to teach them that being a man means to love and be ready to protect what you love, to give your life for it. It means not to fear even when everything and everyone is against you. Do not be afraid. They were the gospel words that sustained me during my stay in England. Being a man means to work hard, to be the head, be in charge – first of all in charge of your own life. Not to give the steering wheel to mass-media, mates, alcohol, drugs or your X-Box. That’s what I was trying to show them. Maybe one year is not enough but I hope they’ve seen that I’m happy, in charge of my life, even if I don’t have my own car, money or a girlfriend. For me, being a man means to be a good Salesian – a father, brother and friend.

Although Polish and English teenagers are different – because of language, education, culture and family background, there is something that everyone understands – a smile. I am convinced that’s the key to their hearts. The only difference is that sometimes it takes longer to open doors. That was, for me, a lesson in patience. In my country when a Salesian or priest smiles youngsters come and want to chat, ask different questions, they’re interested in him, in his story, in his vocation. It’s so obvious, but not here. I was someone from a different world, an adult, a staff member and they must have thought I was a spy. It took me a long time to break through. Eventually I used the simple Don Bosco method – like what young people like. When I’ve seen them with headphones for example, I’ve asked about their favourite bands, types of music. And I’ve shared my tastes in music with them. Similarly with sport, art, and books. It was difficult for me because I’m the type of person who does everything quickly – I think fast, I talk fast, I walk fast, I eat fast, I make friends easily. In England I had to slow down. I’ve also become more tolerant of the behaviour of young people, they are slightly more aggressive and hyperactive than in my country. Perhaps it is because of their family situation – some lack both parents, some boys miss the father figure in their lives. After quite a few failures at the beginning I decided I wouldn’t give up, I’ll try again and again… and it was worth the fight. Despite being so different from them, I think the youngsters began to appreciate me. I didn’t see it at the beginning, but soon I recognised signs of their appreciation. I treasure those moments when, jogging after school and passing the school bus, the pupils would wave and shout Hello, Brother Matt. I’ll never forget those moments, and hi-fives on the corridor. When I heard I was going to England I imagined myself a fighter, a warrior, a crusader. I wanted to take my cassock, bible and crucifix (and maybe a sword) to evangelise. But when I stepped out of the plane I realised that it just wouldn’t work. You can’t tell an Eskimo the parable about the good shepherd because he has got no idea what sheep are like. So I had to change my way of thinking, I had to become more modest about my religious life, hide the shepherd’s crook. They live in a different culture; have a different way of praising God, of talking about him. So I had to change my behaviour, my way of thinking. I soon realised that, in a different culture learning the language is just the beginning. Inculturation means discovering all the good and valuable things that British people and their culture produced during 2000years. I can’t just step in like an unexpected guest in other people’s houses and tell them what kind of books they should read, what kind of music to listen to, and how to prepare a meal. I’m the guest; I must respect the host.

So I never said a word about things that I thought were wrong; because they weren’t wrong – they were different. Even if sometimes I was boiling inside and wanted to shout out. I just stopped and thought: Why? Why say it’s wrong? Don’t judge! How do I know that Poles are doing these things correctly? Who am I to judge? If something works here but not in Poland let it be, just leave it as it is. The best way is to observe; don’t criticise. Learn because maybe you’ll need to do the same.  Does it work? It worked for me. After weeks of inner rebellion I fell in love with this country, its people, its food, and even the weather!

bromatt2In school, the staff are wonderful. They spend so much time in the school. I really admire their commitment and the passion they show in their teaching. That’s the impression I’ll take, in my heart, back to Poland and tell people about it. The school staff were a great example to me, a 26 years-old foreigner, with no experience of professional teaching. Thanks to them I’ve learned so much and I’ve achieved so much. Being a teaching assistant in their lessons was a pleasure and huge life lesson for me. They didn’t have to say a word. I just watched them; it was like a good film. Now I need to share my experience with others and invite them to play that role. They deserve an Oscar. What surprised me was that, after a few months of working with them, some of the teachers occasionally did things the way I was doing them with the youngsters – ways that worked. I like to think they appreciated the Salesian way.

How do English Catholic young people differ from Polish young people? They have their English Catholicism the same as Polish young people have their Polish Catholicism. There is no point in trying to make judgments, no need to compare or to assess the differences. This diversity is an area where the whole richness of the Church takes place: a space that cannot be measured or defined. But when you enter that space with an open mind you will never be the same again. You become a new Catholic – a richer Catholic. That certainly has been my experience. That’s why I encourage others to join Project Europe – for that enriching experience. They will discover that they receive more than they give. I have certainly changed since I came to England. Some people have commented on the improvement in my English, and have even remarked that I’m more British now, whatever that means. I’m sure that is not just about Health and Safety issues or tea breaks. It seems to me that I just understand people more than I did before. I’m curious to see what my family and friends are going to say when I return home. I can certainly feel the difference.  I just know I’ve changed; even when I can’t name it I can feel it.

There are still many areas of disagreement; that’s inevitable and that’s healthy. I didn’t come to England to change into Brother Matthew. I’m still Mateusz. Most of our differences are caused by our lingual, cultural and historical differences. But an appreciation of this makes us more valuable as people, more effective as Salesians. I’ve learned something from you but I hope that you’ve learned something from me. This is Project Europe, not Project England or Project Poland. We can only hope that every country which takes a part in Project Europe will reap the benefits.

As I said in the beginning,  Why? was the most important question. Sometimes the question is more important that the answer. A good philosopher is the one who asks the most important and basic questions.


Educating Young People to Social Justice

solihull101009Over 150 educators from our Salesian Schools and Retreat Centres in Great Britain took part in a Salesian Education Conference on Saturday 9th October 2010. The theme of the day was Educating Young People to Social Justice. The conference, organised by the Salesian Youth Ministry Team and facilitated by YAT (the Youth Advisory Team), took place in the Archbishop Grimshaw Catholic High School in Solihull, near Birmingham.

Teachers and senior staff from the five secondary schools run by the Salesians of Don Bosco and the one secondary school run by the Salesian Sisters were present, together with members of the youth retreat teams from Savio House and Brettargh Holt.

There were three main speakers. Mr David Wells, a member of the Plymouth Diocesan Department of Formation specialising in adult Religious Education, gave the first presentation on the Church’s teaching on Social Justice, with particular reference to the recent visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the UK. Sr Ann Teresa, a sister of St Joseph of Annecy and Founder of the Medaille Trust, spoke about her work with the victims of human trafficking. In the afternoon Fr David O’Malley SDB, the well known writer on Salesian Education and Spirituality, showed how the Church’s teaching on Social Justice and the UN Rights of a Child can be lived out in the Salesian realities of Family, Church, School and Playground. Fr O’Malley illustrated his talk with several amusing practical exercises which caught the imagination of the audience.

There was also a short presentation about Bosco Volunteer Action (BOVA) by James Trewby, the National Organiser, and James Murray, a past pupil of Thornleigh Salesian College Bolton, who had recently spent time working as a volunteer with the Salesians in Baku, Azerbaijan.

As Saturday October 9th was the feast day of Blessed John Henry Newman, we ended the conference with a Mass in his honour, celebrated by Fr Martin Coyle SDB, our GBR Provincial.

Last modified on Wednesday, 04 February 2015 11:04


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