Friday, October 8, 2010

Don Bosco and the Youth of Surrey!

The following comes from the B.C. Catholic site:

Some 200 youth from parishes all over the Lower Mainland worshipped, sang hymns and songs, joined in study sessions and a talent show, listened to speakers, and joined in discussions in preparation for the visit of the relics of St. John Bosco Oct. 8 to 10.
They were all at the Don Bosco Youth Centre in Surrey Sept. 18 for a whole-day "Don Bosco Among Us" youth symposium. The day was capped by Holy Mass.
The sessions were led by Father Dave Sajdak, SDB, who performed "Soul Man" and wowed the audience with his singing and dancing abilities in the tradition of the founder, Don Bosco (Father Bosco), of his religious order.
The letters SDB after Father Sajdak's name stand for "Society of Don Bosco." The Italian Don Bosco chose St. Francis de Sales as the patron of the congregation he founded, now one of the largest in the world, so its members are often called Salesians.
In the morning Father Sajdak discussed "Holiness is Happiness," and how we are all called to be holy. His afternoon talk, on "Don Bosco's Way to Youth Holiness," discussed how the saint used his talents to make the youth recognize their talents and use them for God's work.
After each session the youth divided into groups for discussions facilitated by members of Youth for Christ (YFC), who also led the day's registration, ice-breaker, and worship activities. Meals were prepared by a group led by Eric Coronado. They not only organized the symposium, but are planning the upcoming activities for the visit of the relics of Don Bosco.
"We are excited about this big event coming to our parish," said Coronado. "Having the youth here knowing more about our Salesian founder is a great way for them to know more about how they can be workers for God, the way Don Bosco was."
Most of the organizing committee are alumni of Don Bosco schools in the Philippines.
 "Seeing the Salesians and the YFC working together in this effort is a wonderful testament to God's power of moving the youth to do his work. This is truly amazing," said Father Sajdak. "We hope to see more of these gatherings in the future."
Don Bosco's relics will be at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Surrey from Oct. 8 to 10. The relics will then move on to 17 other countries in East Asia. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Don Bosco's Relic Tour in Toronto

The following comes from the InsideToronto site:

Local students were in the presence of a saint recently. 

Pupils of several Catholic schools converged at St. Benedict Church in north Etobicoke Tuesday, Oct. 5, where the relics of St. John Bosco arrived the night previous.

A wax replica of the patron of youth, a Catholic priest who dedicated his life to educating young people, is encased in an urn made of a glass box atop a wood and metal cart. It was trucked into the city from Chicago the night before, and a crane was needed to get the more than 800-kilogram urn into the church.

"With the help of the Knights of Columbus we were able to lift it into the sanctuary," said Father George Harkins, director of the Salesian Community of Toronto, who was at the church Oct. 5 to greet visitors.

While Bosco's body mostly disintegrated from contact with the air when his tomb was opened in 1929 in preparation for him to become a saint, the bones survived, with most of the skeleton in Turin, Italy, explained Harkins. "Not everyone can go to Turin, so we'll send Don (an Italian term of respect) Bosco to the people," he said.

The bones and tissues of the saint's right hand and arm are within the replica.

"It's very symbolic that it be his right hand; he blessed people with his right hand, he wrote with his right hand ... forgave sinners through his right hand and he was also a tailor, a carpenter, a magician, he was many, many things to many people," said Harkins.

Schools were invited to see the relic throughout the day, with a mass in honour of Bosco scheduled later that evening.

During the visit students delivered 'petitions' to the saint; for Bosco to pray for their families, to give hope to children fighting for freedom, and for just being a good role model.

The relic has already travelled through South America, Central America, and the U.S., noted Harkins. "But certain cities were chosen, they couldn't choose every city," he explained. "Financially, each place (that receives the relic) has to pay ... to make the pilgrimage a success. So we take care of it at a local level."

Susan Almonte, a teacher with Mary, Mother of God school in Parkdale, called the event a "once-in-a-lifetime" chance for those in attendance.

"We have a real devotion to St. John Bosco," she said. "Our teachers are trained in his philosophy of education."

Harkins confirmed the relic would only be at the church for one day on its worldwide pilgrimage. The following day it was headed to Montreal, then to Surrey, British Columbia, then to Asia, he said.

Lourdes Narciso, a Grade 8 student at Holy Child Catholic School in north Etobicoke, was impressed by the replica.

"I think it was really great to see a saint and a relic, it looked real," she said, noting her school had prepared for the day.

The relic's journey began on Jan. 31, 2009, the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Salesian Congregation. "It prepares us for the 2015 celebration of the 200th Anniversary of Don Bosco's birth near Turin, Italy on Aug. 16, 1815," reads the official website of the pilgrimage,

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Strength of an Arm!

The following comes from the Headline Bistro site:

Don Bosco’s blessing arm is still hard at work in the name of salvation.
When a relic of the 19th-century Italian saint made a stop by the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at The Catholic University of America – my alma mater -  in Washington, D.C., this past week, it was hard not to be drawn in by the words inscribed on the glass casket the relic was contained in: “Give me souls, take away the rest.”
These words, in Latin, are displayed on the 1,800-pound urn traveling the globe with remains from the body of Saint John Bosco.
These physical remains of the saint, who died in 1888, have been on the move since January 2009, which marked the beginning of the Salesian Congregation’s 150th anniversary. His body was exhumed in 1929, and his right arm — his blessing arm — has been to 130 nations and is currently traveling in the United States.
Remains of an arm, you may be thinking, how weird. I’ll be the first to admit that I had no idea how powerful an arm it still is.
But that was before I saw people of all races and classes gather to celebrate, venerate and give thanks to the Lord for his goodness in giving us great men and women, making it possible for us to be follow their models, reminding us that all of their greatness came from He who is all Good.
Archbishop Donald Wuerl, of Washington, D.C., described it in his homily: “When we look upon the relic of John Bosco, we see a physical remembrance of his bodily presence and a reminder of his spiritual greatness. When we look upon those young people entrusted to our care, those young people in need, those young people in poverty, those young people with no other avenue for an education, what we should see is what John Bosco saw — the face of Jesus.”
He continued: “Tonight then, as we venerate the relic of Saint John Bosco, we do so in a spirit of awe at his holiness and achievements, but also in a spirit of encouragement that we, too, like the Salesian family, are called to see in the young people entrusted to our educational care, the face of Jesus, the future of our community and the signs of the kingdom of God in our midst.”
His words echoed the recent letter on the new evangelization he issued for the archdiocese. Further, the celebration was in no way about the past, about the dead. It was about the living, the living communion of saints, our living communion with Christ.
“Let us therefore be devoted to the saints whose name we bear and have recourse to them in our spiritual and temporal needs.” Don Bosco once said. “They will always be ready to help us.”
For the Salesians present, it was a re-energization the rest of us were blessed to be included in. Father Steve Safran, principal of Don Bosco Cristo Rey in Tacoma Park, Md. — the newest high school in the archdiocese of Washington — described the visit to me afterwards: “To have that very strong physical reminder in our midst spoke powerfully that Don Bosco’s spirit is very much alive today. He is a saint that is accessible, that loved the young, and who brought them to holiness.”
Speaking specifically as principal, he said, “For Don Bosco Cristo Rey it has been historic. It is the first year in our history that we have seniors, and we will have our first graduating class. Don Bosco’s presence has affirmed our mission. We pray that we can continue to grow and get the funds needed to expand. It was so fantastic to see our young people so excited about the relic.”
Father Safran added: “The Salesians of Don Bosco are not well known in the U.S. as we are in Latin America, even though we are the second largest order in the world. The visit of the relic to the U.S. has been an opportunity for us to remind the Church of St. John Bosco, our charism and work for youth.”
There is an unmistakable power in the Bosco relic tour for the Salesians, of course, but also for anyone in its presence and for the Church itself. It was only weeks after Pope Benedict XVI celebrated another holy man with a love for Saint Francis de Sales, Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman. All signs point to integrity and catechesis as the key to making the life and work of Don Bosco the portrait of the Catholic Church in America.
Archbishop Wuerl noted, “What made his teaching so effective was his communion with the Lord Jesus. Over the years of his life, so evident was his holiness, so apparent was his self-giving and so complete was his dedication that within 20 years of his death, he was declared venerable and then beatified within 40 years and canonized in just over 46 years from the day of his death.”
In Bosco’s physical presence, the universal call to holiness was made real. Not for the first time. Not for the last. But on a weeknight in Washington, D.C., when all kinds of supposedly important things were going on, it was a physical reminder of what actually does matter: our souls. Take away the rest. Of course, God will. But will we be prepared? Will we have treated every child as Christ, every child of God as Christ? Did we approach each day with the pure love of a child, in His service?
Don Bosco, pray for us.

Don Bosco's Relic Tour Visit to Miami

Monday, October 4, 2010

Don Bosco's Relic Arrives at St. Patrick's Cathedral

Don Bosco Relics Arrive at St. Ferdinand's in Chicago

Relic Tour on Brooklyn's Currents TV Program

The Diocese of Brooklyn has their own television station and their own news program.  The relic of Don Bosco made it on to Currents and the coverage begins 9:36 into the half hour program.  Check it out!

Archbishop Dolan at Marian Shrine with the Relic of Don Bosco

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Relics of Don Bosco Coming to Toronto, Canada

The following comes from the Catholic Register of Canada:

On Oct. 5, St. John Bosco will be closer to Canadians than ever before — his relics will be on display at St. Benedict parish in Toronto.

It’s the first stop in Canada for the Don Bosco Among Us Relic Tour through 130 countries that kicked off on Jan. 31, 2009, the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Salesians of Don Bosco. The tour will make its way on to Montreal Oct. 6-8 and then to Surrey, B.C., Oct. 8-10, before continuing elsewhere until 2015, the 200th anniversary of his birth in Turin, Italy.

“In this case, there are two relics travelling the world,” said Fr. George Harkins, director of the Salesians, the order he founded, of Toronto and Hamilton. “The hand is coming to the Americas... and the arm is going to Asia.”

Displayed in a glass box mounted on a large wood and metal cart, the bones and tissues of the right hand and arm have been placed within a wax replica of the Italian saint. They have been recomposed from the urn that contained his remains since 1929 when his body was exhumed for his beatification and canonization.

But Harkins said it must be remembered that a relic is an object for religious veneration, not adoration.

“We don’t honour a body part or clothing. We don’t venerate that in itself but what it represents.”

In this case, Canadians will be able to see the special meaning behind St. John Bosco’s hand, he said.

“We have his hand and it’s to remind us that it’s the hand with which he blessed everything and everyone,” said Harkins. “It’s the hand of baptizing, the hand of absolution, the sacrament of Reconciliation, the hand of giving communion, the hand that he wrote with, that he taught with, tailored, did carpentry work, shoe making and bricklaying with. It signifies something important in his life since he is the apostle of young people.”

Harkins quotes the new Catechism of the Catholic Church to show that relics do not break any commandments, through the example of images.

“Christian veneration of images is still not contrary to the first commandment which proscribes idols. Indeed, the honour rendered to an image passes to its prototype and whoever venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it.”

He likens it to having pictures of our grandparents we respect very greatly.

St. John Bosco’s whole body is to be found in the Basilica of Our Lady Help of Christians in Turin, Italy.

Harkins said that this relics’ tour is important because instead of people having to travel to see relics, the relics are coming to the people.

“He’s coming to all his young people and especially the young and the poor whom he has devoted his whole life to. It’s a great honour that he’s coming to us. People can’t all go to him so he’s coming to them.”

Students at Toronto’s St. John Bosco Catholic School will be some of the young people in attendance.

Principal Waldo Aristizabal said that the school will be sending both a primary and a junior class to St. Benedict parish on Oct. 5.

“The relics are important to our school given the fact that our school has the name of St. John Bosco… Because of that, we want to be as close as possible to these relics by visiting them and sending a couple of classes representing us.”

For more information, see

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Thousands turn out to Stony Point shrine to see Saint John Bosco's relic

The following comes from

Hector Morales pressed his hands against the bronze and glass casket and knelt quietly in front of the life-size statue of St. John Bosco enclosed inside.

Morales stood up and crossed himself. Behind him more than a hundred worshippers stood patiently in line. Some had pulled out cell phones and were snapping photos.

"This is an amazing experience," said Morales, 16, a student at Salesian High School in New Rochelle. "Don Bosco is like a father to us. At school we pray to him every night."

Morales was one of an estimated 5,000 Roman Catholic faithful and clergy, including Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who traveled to the Marian Shrine and Don Bosco Retreat Center on Thursday to catch a glimpse of the religious object, which contains parts of the saint's right hand.

The actual relic is enclosed in a silver-plated box placed inside the statue.

The founder of the Salesians, John Bosco, also known as Don Bosco, devoted his life to helping neglected and exploited boys in Turin, Italy. He lived from 1815 to 1888 and was canonized in 1934.

Addressing the packed church pews, Dolan said his own veneration of Don Bosco dated to his days as a student growing up in Ballwin, Mo., in the 1950s. Dolan asked visitors to use the opportunity of seeing the relic to declare and reaffirm their faith.

"Don Bosco saw everybody as good even when they looked bad," he said. "What an inspiration to us today."

Modern Salesians focus on the needs of youth through teaching and the operation of recreation clubs in conjunction with parish work. Several visitors to the shrine said the relic was a powerful symbol of their devotion.

The nun who taught Dolan in grade school, Sister Mary Bosco, had flown in from Ireland for the occasion. She described Thursday as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to pray in front of her saintly namesake.

"I'm grateful," Bosco said. "This is my first time to see him."

Mary Wolff came wearing a T-shirt with St. Bosco's image emblazoned on it. The Westchester native said her veneration of the patron saint of youths had started early — at a Catholic summer camp.

"It's sort of like getting together with an old friend," Wolff said. "I was so impressed with St. Bosco's joy and goodness."

The St. Bosco relic is on a five-year worldwide tour that will end in Italy in January 2014. The relic is headed to St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City on Friday and Saturday.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Don Bosco's Relic and The Chicago Youth Rally

The following comes from the Catholic Chicago Blog:

Fr. Tim Zak, SDB, pastor of St. John Bosco Parish in Chicago, called me a few months ago with a curious request. “Tom, I need your help and counsel. You see, the relic of St. John Bosco is coming to our parish in October. This is going to be a huge event and we need to get started right now!”

The first thoughts that came to my modern, Western mind were, “Why make such a big deal about viewing a relic? Wouldn’t time be better spent working on a more worthwhile project?”

However, after meeting with Fr. Zak and an enthusiastic group of Salesian Cooperators from St. John Bosco Parish, I quickly identified several tangible benefits for the Archdiocese of Chicago stemming from the world tour of the relic of St. John Bosco.

First, Salesians are loved by many ethnic communities in Chicago. Thousands of Asian, Polish, Italian and Hispanic immigrants have fond memories of being ministered to by Salesians in their homeland. Having these groups gather together with their families would be tremendous. Second, St. John Bosco is the official Patron of Young People. Hosting thousands of young people and their families at St. John Bosco Parish will certainly build enthusiasm for other Archdiocesan youth events such as the Bread of Life Retreat and World Youth Day.

And finally, young people in the Archdiocese do not normally turn out in droves for popular devotions such as Corpus Christi processions, rosary, Eucharistic adoration and relic visitation. Our modern, secular culture has pretty much replaced our youth’s enthusiasm for these practices with other more ‘entertaining’ events such as concerts, movies and video games. However, during their initial presentation, I was quite impressed with the dynamic and captivating ideas that the Salesian cooperators had for the October 2nd-4th event— a youth & family rally, catechetical talks, concerts, music, clowns and games. If any group could pull off making a relic visitation youth friendly, the Salesians could!

Every day since I received that curious call from Fr. Tim I have been amazed by how the Holy Spirit has worked to bring people together to make a difference in the lives of at-risk youth in our community. The committees have organized two days of activities and events for people of all ages. The Catholic Cemeteries of Chicago is the principal sponsor for this event. Simply put, it has been a privilege to be a part of the planning committee for this extraordinary event.

Yes, St. John Bosco is just one parish in Chicago, and popular devotion to St. John Bosco is not for everyone. Nevertheless, this event is an ecclesial celebration for the entire Archdiocese of Chicago. Bishops John Manz and Gustavo Garcia-Siller, M. Sp.S, along with many other religious and diocesan clergy, will be a part of this celebration. Please consider coming out for one or all of the events.