WOW ! what a demonstration of love, faith and spirituality right here at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish - St. Marys. Weeks of planning and preparation on the part of the Parish team, the Salesian community of SDBs and FMAs, and the whole Parish Communty paid off a hundredfold.
The Relic Statue of Don Bosco was finally here.. The 'Unveiling Ceremony" presided over by Fr. Shane Reade and other Salesians saw the church come alive as the strains of "Lets Celebrate now" rang through the air, with the voices of the OLR Primary school children, Parishioners and visitors from far and near, joined as one voice to welcome Don Bosco, Father and Teacher of Youth.
As the message stick and the message stone made its way down the aisle there was joy and anticipation, as we waited to look on the statue for the first time. After acknowleding the custodians of this land and praying the opening prayer, Sr. Rochelle invited Fr. Shane to unveil the statue, to a musical fanfare, matched only by the fanfare of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. A thunderous applaud followed in honour of this great Saint and thus began two days of Salesian joy, hours of prayer, personal and collective, and exuberant joyful and musically charged liturgical moments. A talk by Fr. Ted Cooper followed and as only Fr. Ted can do, he kept his listeners hanging on every word.
At 12.00 midday, a Mass in honour of St. Dominic Savio celebrated by Fr. Guy Riolo, brought 150 or so, youth from some of the schools in our area, together with our Parish Community and the many visitors, for another uplifting youthful liturgical moment. Thanks to the Principals of Emmaus College, St. Dominic College, Our Lady of the Rosary and Bosco College Engadine for bringing students to join us.
With the students of St. Dominic College band leading us in song and music, the mass was celebrated in typical Salesian style - lively, meaningul and yet prayerful. Once again the church filled with the strains of ST. DOMINIC SAVIO CHAMPION OF GOD, YOU DARED TO BE DIFFERENT YOU JOYFULLY SERVED GOD... this song written by Sr. Rochelle in honour of Dominic Savio. At the end of the mass students representing their schools, were presented with a SALESIAN SHOW BAG - so to speak - with goodies for every student who participated in the mass. Other school groups visited the church during the day and had a chance to pray before the statue. A continuous stream of people young and old, from around Sydney meant that there was never a moment when Don Bosco (the Statue) was left alone.
The all-night vigil of prayer and adoration was once again proof that the faith of people is still alive and well. Various parish groups, past-pupils and cultural groups, took an hour to keep vigil, including a children's hour and a Youth Hour . It was especially heartening and touching to see children, teenagers and young adults from the youth groups of our Parish, and elsewhere, kneel in prayer and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, and then gather around the statue of Don Bosco to touch and whisper a little prayer. The Salesian Community and Sisters too, had their hour of prayer as part of the all-night vigil and spent time in quiet prayer and reflection.
Day 2 started with the parish community joining in Morning Prayer - the prayer of the Church. This was followed with a talk by Fr. Brendan Murphy. The Sacrament of Reconciliation was offered throughout the two days of the relics' presence.
These two days - of prayer - eucharistic liturgies - meeting Boscians and past-pupils from all over the world - was capped off once again, with a very joyful and meaningful Salesian Eucharist, celebrated by Bishop Anthony Fisher, Bishop of Parramatta, surrounded by many Salesian and Diocesan Priests. The OLR choir and musicians led the assembly in joyful song as we joined together in prayer and raised our voices to the sounds of Don Bosco be our guide and Father, teach us the way of the Lord the Truth and Life. This was followed by dinner at Don Bosco Youth Centre and thanks to the OLR hospitality team set up for this occasion, the youth centre came alive with chatter of adults and the exciting voices of the young as they played on the trampolines, table tennis or did other activities that the centre provides.
It was suggested (by Serge - the carer of the statue) that the Statue be placed in the Sisters chapel for the night before its departure the next morning. So the two guys in charge of transportation packed up the statue, loaded it on to the van and drove into the driveway of the Sisters, only to discover that the door ways were too narrow and the statue would not be able to go through..What a dissapointment !!.. so they drove back and set up the statue again in the church. As it turned out in the morning, before the statue was packed up for its trip to the airport, the SDBs and FMAs were able to celebrate their community morning Eucharist and spend time for these last few mintues in prayer before the statue, till it was loaded back into the van.
No doubt the presence of the Relic of Don Bosco in our midst has been a blessing for the Parish and us as Salesian Religious. The many connections new and old with people who have heard, studied, or read about Don Bosco was amazing. We hope to keep those connections alive and follow up on these days.
A huge thanks to Fr. Brendan Murphy, PP, Fr. Shane, Rector, the Parish Team, the Don Bosco Youth centre team and the SDB Salesian Community and Sisters who worked together and each doing their bit to make these two days memorable. Thanks also to the OLR Parish community of helpers who made everything a success. These have been days to remember !!!
May Don Bosco bless us all now and always as we continue to LIVE HIS DREAM IN OUR LIVES AND IN THE LIVES OF THE YOUNG.