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.
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.
Dr Sue English-Donkers is a General practitioner, from Hampton. Ten years ago she and Br Michael Lynch, Director of the Australian Salesian Mission Office, visited East Timor. Since then she had returned many times to Timor and made herself available for medical check-ups for Salesians, Salesian Sisters, students and especially the orphans as well as monitoring a better diet for the girls cared for by the Sisters at Fuiloro. Dr Susan has through her network of friends raised financial assistance for her projects in Timor by an Oaks Day Luncheon, Trivia nights and various fund raising activities. One of her very special projects is obtaining surgery in Australia for a girl suffering from a spinal deformity.
Recently Dr Sue penned the following notes for the Salesian Bulletin. "Venilale is a town in East Timor 5 hours east of Dili. It serves a community of around 16,000 people. The health needs of the community are serviced by 2 medical clinics: a government clinic which looks after pregnancy, infant health care, family planning and general health problems, and a Salesian health clinic.
Originally established in the 1940s to provide summer holiday accommodation for orphans – Don Bosco Camp, Dromana, has evolved. From its roots as a bush camp by the sea, it has developed a unique tradition of holiday programs involving teams of dedicated volunteers trained in the Salesian Preventive System. The huge popularity of the camps is no surprise. They emphasize the cornerstones of the Salesian Method: friendship, joy, freedom, presence, and positive mentoring – especially with peer to peer youth leadership. The holiday camps are extremely popular with more than 90% of campers returning year after year.
The Don Bosco Camp is a vital component of the Salesian works in the Australia-Pacific Province. Today it is more than a place for young people to have a holiday by the beach. The Youth Leadership program run at Dromana not only has an amazing influence on the young people involved in camps, it also reaches out and has significant influences on a number of other Salesian works in the Province.
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.
Dear Young Friends,
Seeing you all present here today, I think of the story of Saint Francis of Assisi. In front of the crucifix he heard the voice of Jesus saying to him: "Francis, go, rebuild my house". The young Francis responded readily and generously to the Lord's call to rebuild his house. Today too, as always, the Lord needs you, young people, for his Church. My friends, the Lord needs you! Today too, he is calling each of you to follow him in his Church and to be missionaries. The Lord is calling you today! Not the masses, but you, and you, and you, each one of you. Listen to what he is saying to you in your heart! Starting with the name of the place where we are, Campus Fidei, the field of faith, I have thought of three images that can help us understand better what it means to be a disciple and a missionary. First, a field is a place for sowing seeds; second, a field is a training ground; and third, a field is a construction site.
Standing at over 700 metres above sea level, Cristo Redentor looms large over Rio de Janeiro. Here, amongst the millions of pilgrims was a group of 24 Salesian youth from around Australia. The pilgrimage had already passed through Chile and experienced incredible levels of Salesianity in Sao Paolo, and so the excitement in the group was great on arrival at their accommodation, located minutes from Copacabana beach, the heart of WYD13.
After a free day to explore Rio, the pilgrims woke up early to make their way to the foot of Mount Corcovado; here they would take a cable-car to the summit and gaze upon the much-renowned statue of Christ the Redeemer.
Later that evening, the official start for WYD took place with the opening Mass at 7 pm, led by Archbishop Orani Tempesta, Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro. Many thousands of pilgrims flocked to the expanses of Copacabana beach despite the brisk breeze and light drizzle.
On 1 September 1939 Hitler invaded Poland, beginning the Second World War. The Salesian House in Poznan in Wroniecka Street was occupied and turned into a barracks for German soldiers. The young people continued gathering in the woods outside the city as well as in the city gardens.
A number of secret societies came into being. In September 1940 Francis Kesy and four companions from the oratory were arrested and accused of belonging to an illegal organisation.
They were taken to the fearful Fort VII near Poznan, where they were tortured and interrogated. Following this they were taken to various other prisons where they were not always lucky enough to be together. Taken back to Poznan they were processed, accused of High Treason and condemned to death.
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.
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."
Pope's Prayer Vigil with Young People
Dear Young Friends,Seeing you all present here today, I think of the story of Saint Francis of Assisi. In front…Read more...
Visitors from Timor Leste
Fr Manuel da Silva Ximenes, for many years parish priest of St John Bosco parish in Laga, East Timor, visited…Read more...
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...