Friday, May 28, 2010

Don Bosco arrives in Venezuela

The following comes from the Salesian News Agency:

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.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Pilgrimage of Don Bosco Finishes in Columbia

The following comes from the Salesian News Agency:

The city of Cúcuta was the last place in Colombia to host and pay homage to Don Bosco’s casket with crowds of youngsters and the faithful taking part in all the activities organised for the occasion.
The presence of Don Bosco’s casket in Cúcuta brought everyone together for a great celebration on the night of Sunday 23 May when all the Catholics in the capital of the Department of Norte de Santander welcomed the saint of youth with a Mass at which the Bishop of the city Jaime Prieto Amaya presided in the Cathedral of St Joseph.

At the end of the welcoming Mass for the relics, thousands of youngsters from the various institutes in the city together with the faithful lined up for a torchlight procession to accompany the casket from the Cathedral to the Salesian Institute. Here, during the night there was a firework display expressing joy at the presence of the relics of Don Bosco and honouring them.

“The very impressive special welcome given by the people of Cúcuta to Don Bosco, makes us feel really appreciated. The welcome given in other places the casket has visited has been great, but this one in Cúcuta is bigger, not only because of the number of those present but also because of the crowds of youngsters we have found” the Salesian Fr Edgar Palacios declared. The presence of the youngsters with their songs and joyful excitement made the whole city aware of the presence of Don Bosco in Cúcuta.

Today, 25 May Don Bosco’s casket begins its travels around Venezuela, in the city of San Antonio di Táchira, and from there it will go to the various Salesian centres in the “Saint Luke” Province until 17 June. Present at the handing over ceremony for the casket will be Fr Luciano Stefani, Provincial of Venezuela.