Bicentenary of Don Bosco celebrations at St Marys
By Fr Shane Reade SDB and Sr Jenny Doudle FMA
The bicentenary of the birth of St John Bosco, founder of the Salesians of Don Bosco, was celebrated at St Marys on the weekend of 15-16 August 2015.
Our Lady of the Rosary Parish is in the pastoral care of the Salesians who also have an outreach to young people with the Don Bosco Youth Centre.
Celebrations commenced on Saturday at Penrith local community centre where more than 280 people enjoyed a fantastic night. The young people from the parish and local schools performed a program of dance, choirs, solo singing and gymnastic acts.
On Sunday, the 10.30am Mass was celebrated in honour of Don Bosco with a Filipino youth choir. Fr Shane Reade SDB, rector, was the principal celebrant for the Mass, which was concelebrated by Fr Brendan Murphy, parish priest, Fr Guy Riolo SDB, assistant priest, Fr John Walenciej (youth centre co-director), Fr Chris Riley SDB (founder and director of Youth Off The Streets) with Br Thuy Nguyen SDB (youth centre assistant).
A large number of Maltese, Filipino and South American past pupils of Our Lady of the Rosary Primary were present to share in this joyful occasion.
After Mass, parishioners and young people continued the celebrations in the Don Bosco Youth Centre. The celebration commenced with prayer, acknowledgement of country led by Sr Louise McKeogh FMA and young people of the centre.
Sr Jenny Doudle FMA gave a short talk on Don Bosco, which was followed by the cutting of the 200th celebratory cake.
Activities and entertainment included a dance by pupils from Our Lady of the Rosary Primary. Cultural dances were performed by the Samoan community, the Atafu Lotomau Tokelau and Kajo-Keji communities from South Sudan, and the Madi community.
There were gymnastic and trampoline displays, circus and unicycle displays and face painting. There were pool and table tennis competitions. A live band was led by Br Jeff Miller SDB, Carlos Escobar and Malia.
St John Bosco
St John Bosco was born in 1815 in Becchi in northern Italy of a poor farming family. At the age of nine he had a dream where Our Lady appeared to him and told him that one day he would lead young men if he remained humble, steadfast and strong.
Overcoming tremendous obstacles and setbacks, Don Bosco was ordained a priest in 1841 and began his ministry among the street kids of Turin. Many of these boys had come from the countryside in search of work, and most of them had little or no family support.
They were often the victims of unscrupulous employers and became involved in petty crime to survive. Don Bosco taught these boys on Sundays, providing them with an education that was engaging and ultimately evangelised.
In time, the number of boys grew and so did the need for Don Bosco to find more permanent places for them to gather. From the ‘Pinardi Shed’ in a rough area of Turin, an educational empire was born that has spread throughout the world and has ensured the continued holistic education of the young, especially those most in need.
In 1856, Don Bosco founded the Salesian priests and brothers and in 1872, with St Mary Mazzarello, the Salesian Sisters, to carry on his vital mission, using the spirituality of the Preventive System of Education, Reason, Religion and Loving Kindness.
Don Bosco was often heard to say, “I would give my life for my boys”, and, “It is not enough to love the young, they must know that they are loved”.
The Don Bosco Youth and Recreation Centre continues his legacy, providing the young with a place of fun and recreation where they feel accepted. The loving gaze of Mary and Jesus the Good Shepherd reaches out to them and gives them hope and confidence for a bright future.
May the Lord bless all who continue Don Bosco’s legacy of kindness and love to the young.
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