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The Feast of Don Bosco around the world

The Feast of Don Bosco with BOVA volunteers around the world… 

…celebrating with young people in Zambia, the Philippines, Kenya, India and Tanzania.


Anna and Claire in Zambia

At the City of Hope in Lusaka, Zambia we celebrated the Don Bosco feast in a number of ways. At the Open Community School we had a whole school mass on the Friday, followed by an afternoon of singing, dancing and games (including a quiz about Don Bosco) with the students. On Sunday evening we also had a fantastic celebration with the girls who live at the community here. The girls (24 of them aged 8-21) performed an evening of entertainment for the Sisters and volunteers.

Claire in the Philippines
Don Bosco Youth Center (DBYC)

In December the relic of Don Bosco (a life size statue containing his actual right hand) visited the Philippines and spent twenty four hours at the youth centre. As part of this event an ‘I Touch’ programme was launched with the aim of immersing the young in the work of Saint Don Bosco.


In the one square kilometre slum areas of Pasil and Suba, in the city of Cebu, there are thirty chapels serving the 55,000 inhabitants. On Saturday (29th January) the DBYC members were divided into groups and visited these chapels. They gathered the local children and played games with them, just as had happened when the first Oratory was established by Don Bosco. The DBYC youth taught the children to say the rosary and told them the story of Don Bosco and Dominic Savio focussing on the idea of what it means to be a saint. It was truly inspiring to see the children spreading the message of Don Bosco. On Sunday, the children from the chapels were gathered to attend the children’s morning mass. Following this, there were more events in the centre such as playing skittles and shooting basketballs into a hoop. These had been organised by the catechists and there were many prizes to be won.

Don Bosco Day saw the culmination of the ‘I Touch’ programme. The children returned for the evening mass and the church was over flowing. A procession of the statue of Don Bosco then took place around the streets of Suba and Pasil whilst the rosary was said. The 300 children came back to the centre and were given rice broth with ginger, onions and chicken and juice. A Variety Show was then put on by the DBYC youth including performances from the KOA group (Knights of the Altar) along with various games. Hopefully, some of these children will have been touched by the message of Don Bosco and will become permanent members of the DBYC.

Don Bosco Training Center (DBTC)

The trainees celebrated the feast of Don Bosco with a mass led by Fr. Bonni, SDB. His key message was that you should not let your past be an excuse for your present. Don Bosco’s father had died when he was only two years old. He also lost his teacher, Fr. Calosso, and his best friend whilst in the seminary. However, Don Bosco did not make excuses about his circumstances and went on to become the Father, Teacher and Friend of the young. These words to describe him had been proclaimed by Pope John Paul II in 1988 during the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of Don Bosco’s death.


Following the mass there was a Grand Parade around the streets of Pasil and Suba before returning to the centre for the lighting of the Intramural torch and a parade of the Don Bosco flag to mark the start of the Intramurals, the sporting league of the centre. A Sinulog dance competition was held for the Automotive, Machine, Garment and Woodworking Technology trainees. The feast of Sinulog praises the Santo Nino or Holy Child statue, which was brought to Cebu by the Spanish Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, and was accepted by the people to show their devotion to Christ.

In the afternoon there were games of basketball, volleyball, badminton, chess and parlour games or children’s party games. Finally, there was the kissing of the relic of Saint John Bosco. Saint John Bosco means a great deal to the trainees of Pasil as attending the centre has enabled them to change their future and give them the hope that they can achieve their dreams.

Simon in Kenya

Don Bosco Day here in Nairobi was marked by the inauguration of the Jesus Cup, a mammoth sport and culture competition organised and hosted by Bosco Boys which will continue over the next six weeks. The celebrations included a huge mass, a visit from the bishop, singing, dancing, the first Jesus Cup netball and football matches and, of course, for a feast day, plenty of good food.

Ben in India

The day’s celebrations were held at Suprabha, in Davangere so we all got in the Jeep early in the morning and went there for the day. We celebrated mass and had a prayer service for all of the young people, then there was a programme of dances, acting and speeches, etc., some really nice food for everyone and some fun games for all of the staff.

Bridget and Zelma in Tanzania


The day started with a Mass for the 100 students and 40 staff in the big hall in the centre. This hall serves as a church, meeting room and a recreational space – with table tennis being played every evening for half an hour. I have yet to take part but, of course I will!!  Mass was long and relatively lively with a lot of great singing. It is the first time I’ve ever heard the bidding prayers being sung!  It was quite comforting to know that teenagers everywhere are the same; a few of the boys at the back were not just slouched in their chairs but asleep!

After Mass, Zelma and I joined the community for a drink which for some consisted of the liqueur that we had brought for them. In fact Fr Thomas soaked his cake in it!

The students celebrated with a morning of games – netball and football. The netball was teachers versus students; the teachers won though not before the Head, Brother Francis, had been sent off for foul play, for moving the goal posts when the opposition were shooting! There were four teams playing football simultaneously on the same pitch. An interesting way of solving the numbers problem and it seemed to work.

These games were then followed by lunch for everyone. The students always get lunch but normally ugali (maize flour mixed with water) and beans. Today it was rice, piri piri and meat. I sat with a young man who was in his first year doing electrical studies. He has come down from his village near Kilimanjaro to live with his aunt so he can study here. He told me – almost incidentally – that he used to have a brother who died in a fire. The same fire that left him very scarred on his face and with a hand that is now disabled.
The school is a technical school that serves young people who have failed their Form 4 exams (equivalent to GCSE) and although it is private, the fees are only about £50 a year which just covers the lunchtime food. Despite being a government approved technical college it receives absolutely no funding from the government: salaries, materials and all other expenses have to be found by the Salesians. When I asked the Rector where they got the money from, he said ‘providence and some benefactors’. I have learned that this is a typical Salesian approach of optimism and one that believes it will happen somehow and before it is needed. Welding, electrical studies, carpentry and secretarial studies are all taught here alongside English and computer studies.

The feast ended with most members of the Salesian family – Sisters, Brothers and Priests including the Papal Nuncio to Tanzania – in Dar Es Salaam coming together for prayer and then for a riotous meal and evening of celebration.

Last modified on Tuesday, 18 March 2014 10:35