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By Fr Bernie Graham, SDB


Melbourne, Australia, 29 January 2015 -- To launch the Bicentenary Year of the Birth of Don Bosco in the SDB Australia-Pacific Province, a conference is currently being held for members of the province and the Salesian family. Almost 100 participants, which include 67 Salesians, 10 Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and 20 lay mission partners, as well as Archbishop Tim Costelloe sdb, have gathered together for a five-day conference under the theme of ‘Don Bosco: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’. The participants have come from all parts of the province including Samoa, Fiji and New Zealand as well as Australia for a wonderful gathering of the Salesian Family.


The Opening Ceremony of the Conference was centered on ‘bosco’ the tree, rooted in the ground, well watered to give life, with branches stretching out to the young, and in word and image and music brought our attention ‘Bosco’ and the great family of which we are part. In his welcome the Provincial, Fr Greg Chambers sdb, invited all participants to use this opportunity ‘explore the life and times and world of St John Bosco; to study, examine and reflect upon Don Bosco: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow; and to imbibe and internalize what is essential and life-giving about the Giovanni Bosco of history, so that you can live it with great authenticity and love in the years to come.’


The Keynote presentation each morning is being given by Fr Joe Boenzi sdb from the United States West Province and UPS. His brief is to help us reflect on Don Bosco ‘Yesterday’ and in the first two days has provided expert reflections drawn from the Memoirs of the Oratory and the Preventive System, providing historical insights into these two key Salesian sources left us by Don Bosco with some renewed insights into understanding them more deeply.


The afternoon presentations are being provided by Conference participants with a brief to look at Don Bosco ‘Today and Tomorrow’ from the reality of the Province and to meant to be interactive sessions engaging all participants in active reflection and direction for the future. For each of these they take as their sub-theme one of the six sections from the ‘Camino’ section of the Documents of GC27. So far Fr Frank Moloney sdb has lead a reflection on ‘Like Don Bosco, in dialogue with the Lord, Sr Edna Mary MacDonald fma (Provincial) a reflection on ‘Journeying together, moved by the Spirit’, Fr Michael Court sdb on ‘Experiencing fraternal life, as at Valdocco’, and Ms Beth Gilligan and Mrs Janine O’Hea on ‘Available for planning and sharing’. Each has challenged us to look at our current reality and to dream about the way forward for the future.


Today we also took the opportunity to celebrate with the various confreres who are marking significant Jubilees in 2015: Profession – Oreste Cantamessa (60), Julian Fox, Peter Kerin and Michael Lynch (50), Marc Barry, Peter Carroll and Paul Miles (40), Mika Leilua and Petelo Vito Pau (25), and Ordination John Murphy and John Prest (40).




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