Sunbury (Melbourne), Australia, 1 May 2023 -- The final leg of the Rector Major Fr Ángel Fernández Artime’s visit took him to Salesian College Sunbury, home to the motherhouse of the Salesians in Australia! It in 1927 that the Salesians finally found their permanent home in Australia after relocating to Melbourne from Western Australia.
The day begun with a full school assembly, welcoming the Rector Major to the college grounds. In his speech to the students, he stressed the importance of dreams to young people, and passionately encouraged them to always follow their dreams, as this is the path to happiness.
For one last time in Australia, the Rector Major reached out to the young people gathered through song, playing a couple of tunes in his native Spanish. Before playing the second song, Fr Ángel commented that if he played this song in Spain, then for sure the young people would be up and dancing; he wondered out loud if anyone would be brave enough to dance in front of their peers. To his pleasant surprise, many members of the audience jumped up to dance along!
After the assembly, the Rector Major made his way to the cemetery, which is the final resting place for many Salesians who have dedicated their lives to the Australia-Pacific province. To commemorate the Rector Major’s visit and the centenary of Salesianity, the Rector-Major planted a tree by the cemetery gates, and buried an accompanying time capsule, to be opened at the next centenary!
In the background of the Rector Major’s visit, Salesian College Sunbury were participating in their “Don Bosco Derby”, a day full of friendly competition between the schoolhouses through a wide range of activities and games. This meant that there were plenty of students about the grounds, to the great joy of the touring party.
Many were eager to have their photo taken with the Rector Major, taken as they were by his speech and song earlier in the day. Indeed, some students even asked for the name of one of the songs that he played, so that they could add it to their Spotify playlist and maybe even change the school bell to the tune!
As Fr Ángel came to the sporting grounds, he spotted some students playing with an odd-shaped ball - an Australian Rules football. Eager to have a go at the local sport (that is very close to a religion for some!), he took the ball in hand and launched into the air by foot, impressing the locals greatly for it is a skill that is notoriously difficult to master.
One final stop at the Salesian Residence was in order, to visit the community and bless the benefactor’s monument that had been freshly minted only a couple of months. It is dedicated to all those who have supported the works of the Salesians in the Australia-Pacific province since its inception in 1923.
With that complete, it was now time to leave for the airport for the return flight to Madrid. Both Sydney and Melbourne had been blessed with fantastic, sunny weather for the Rector Major’s visit, and even so, no sooner did his flight depart than Melbourne sky’s turn grey and the rain fell, marking the end of an extraordinary visit that has nourished the Salesians in Australia during their 100 year celebrations!