Don Bosco began his travels around the “Saint Luke” Province of Venezuela, starting from “San Antonio de Táchira” and then heading for Caracas, where he will stay until today Friday 28 May.
On 25 May at 06.00 in the Salesian community of Cúcuta, Fr Leonardo Gomez, Economer of the Province of Bogotà, handed over the keys of the Don Bosco’s casket to the Salesian Family in Venezuela, represented by the Provincial Fr Luciano Stefani, who in his turn handed them to Fr Elias Kasrin, guardian of the casket.
Because of the bad weather encountered on the way to Caracas the plane had to change course and so quite unplanned Don Bosco passed over the lake of Maracaibo, a very significant place geographically which recalls the missionary dream of Don Bosco: oil, water Venezuela...! His dream in 1883 became reality.
Don Bosco finally arrived in Caracas accompanied by Fr Luciano Stefani, Fr Luis G. Prato, Mrs Beatriz Saira, and two Past Pupils. Waiting for him were the Provincial of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians Sr Maria Eugenia Ramos, Sr Inmaculada Hurtado, Fr Raul Biord, Mrs, Director of Religious Affairs for the Ministry of Justice and a group of children from the Don Bosco house in Sarria.
From there with a police escort and accompanied by young people along the road dedicated to St John Bosco the relic was taken Institute of Mary Help of Christians in Altamira. Along the way drivers and pedestrians could not avoid observing the joy and enthusiasm with which Don Bosco was accompanied on the first stage of his journey in Caracas.
The courtyard of the Institute was filled with children and young people who sang and danced in honour of Don Bosco. The welcoming ceremony was organised by Sr Mariela Ojeda, Superior of the Institute and a team of teachers and other staff.
Later in the "San José de Tarbes” Centre, a group of children welcomed Don Bosco to their school; the casket stayed for only 30 minutes but there was sufficient time for the children to sing the National Hymn and other songs in honour of Don Bosco.
The casket was then transferred to the Sanctuary of Mary Help of Christians in Sarria. There in a religious ceremony Bishop Jesús González de Zarate Salas, auxiliary bishop of the city, greeted and welcomed Don Bosco, and invited everyone to reconciliation and to be authentic disciples and missionaries of the Church in Venezuela. Also present was Bishop Pedro Nicolás Bermúdez Villamizar, another auxiliary bishop of Caracas.
Also present at the ceremony were the Mayor Antonio Ledezma and the Prefect of Caracas, Richard White. The songs, prayers and dances and magic tricks enabled everyone there to have a real meeting with Don Bosco.