So often the environment we live in can be filled with negativity. Immersed in a self-centred world, we can't help but trying to fill ourselves with what will only make us feel more empty. A group of 21 young people travelling to South America could easily have been headed down that path, were it not for a greater purpose that they had recognised in themselves.
Naturally we all held certain expectations of what we would experience over the course of the pilgrimage to World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janiero. Like millions of other young people I came hoping to find some answers, to move a little closer to finding out what God is asking of me in my life. None of us, however, could have predicted the ways in which we would be challenged, amazed, and brought to consider how we live our faith.
Fr Marc Cuvelier was born in Gullegem, in north Belgium, in 1938, into a family of hard working people. He had to go to work on completion of his primary schooling in a factory where they made washing machines. He soon felt the call to religious life and joined a late vocation Programme at Don Bosco Kortrijk and then became a Salesian novice in 1961 and made his first religious profession on 25 August 1962. As a young Salesian he was known for his football skills and as a good and expert technician.
With great practical skills he spent his free time fixing things: bicycles, motorcycles and cars; and he was always ready to do all kinds of repairs. On completion of his philosophical studies, he was sent as a missionary to Korea, arriving there on 15 November 1965.
The television images of Pope Francis celebrating Mass on the beach of Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with a congregation of some 3 million young people at the conclusion of World Youth Day are still fresh in our minds.
Brazil has been in the news recently, not only for World Youth Day, but also because the World Soccer Cup will be held there next year, and then in 2016 Brazil will host the Olympic Games.
Of the millions of people involved in these events, very few would know that St John Bosco is the co-Patron of Brasilia, the capital of that country; and indeed that the location of that city is based on a dream of Don Bosco. "On the night of 30 August 1883, I had a dream" – Don Bosco began to tell the Salesians gathered for their General Chapter on 4 September 1883. Fr Lemoyne wrote down the dream as Don Bosco was speaking. Later on Don Bosco went over the transcript and made additions and modification to the original. This dream became known as the missionary dream of South America, and one can find it recorded in volume 16 of the Biographical Memoirs of St John Bosco.
Wherever I have lived, be it my family home, boarding school, youth centres, parishes and various communities, each place has been a rewarding and enriching experience with its own special memories.
My childhood years
My childhood years, growing up in Fumina in West Gippsland, Victoria, were certainly challenging as was my attendance at the local one teacher State School. Our local communities, comprising the hamlets of Fumina, Icy- Creek and Vesper, did not have electricity until I was nine years old. I can remember the buzz of the 'switch on' in 1967 when the community gathered at the local hall to celebrate the installation of electricity. It is amazing to think back on those times and wonder how I and eleven siblings didn't burn our house down as for years we used kerosene lamps and candles at night time.
Fr Carlo Braga was born in the year after Don Bosco died on 23 May 1889. He lived his boyhood in Tirano, Northern Italy. He, the second child of a second marriage, started losing his loved ones while he was still young.
When two years old, his father migrated to the Americas but never came back, and, when six, his mother died alone in a hospital. These made his boyhood more bitter and dramatic than that of the boy John Bosco.
Nonetheless, Fr Braga found providential substitutes in the Salesian Family. The Salesian Sisters cared for him in Tirano and, later, the Salesians received him in the Salesian College in Sondrio.
During the young Carlo's stay with the Salesians in Sondrio he encountered St John Bosco's successor, the Blessed Michael Rua, who opened to him the way to eventually become a Salesian.
On Saturday, 13 July, a good number of Salesians from the Australia-Pacific Province gathered at Lysterfield to celebrate this year's Province Day and to publicly acknowledge the ten jubilarians, five of whom were present, who were marking important milestones in their Salesian and priestly lives during 2013. The jubilarians remembered and honoured were Fr Julian Cavarzan and Fr Jeremiah Breen celebrating 50 years of priesthood, and those celebrating anniversaries of religious profession: Fr Dan O'Sullivan, 75 years; Fr Steve Dubovsky, 65 years; Fr John Briffa , 65 years; Fr Norm Ford, 60 years; Fr Jeremiah Breen, 60 years; Fr Germano Baiguini, 50 years; Fr Ernie De Gaspari, 50 years; Tony De Groot, 50; Fr Shane Reade, 25 years.
On 26 June, Sr Margaret Bentley, Provincial Superior of the South Pacific Region of the Salesian Sisters, announced the death of Sister Christina Swan. "Sister Christina Swan FMA passed to the Lord at Sutherland Hospital in Sydney on 25 June 2013 at the age of 97. She was surely the much revered matriarch of the Salesian Sisters' Province and one of the legendary stalwarts of her whole congregation. As such, she will be sadly missed but fondly remembered by us all.
"Sr Christina was a founding member of the Engadine community in 1959. She had lived much of her life in Engadine but was also a founding member of the Bayswater and Clayton communities in Melbourne. Christina would have celebrated 78 years of profession on 5 August this year and would have turned 98 in December. For many years she led the Sisters in Australia when we were part of the USA and then Hong Kong Provinces and was instrumental in the Sisters first going to Samoa."
Five brave young Polish Men
On 1 September 1939 Hitler invaded Poland, beginning the Second World War. The Salesian House in Poznan in Wroniecka Street…Read more...
Valiant Missionary: Fr Charles Braga SDB [1889-1971]
Fr Carlo Braga was born in the year after Don Bosco died on 23 May 1889. He lived his boyhood…Read more...
Editorial Rekindling the embers
My boyhood's chore of lighting the morning fire always engendered sense of wonderment. During the long hours of the night,…Read more...