Saturday, 20 January 2018


Shrigley Old Boy, Bernard O'Neill, is in Turin for the 36th Salesian Family Spirituality Days, and when he arrived at Turin Airport on Thursday, he discovered all he had to say was "Don Bosco, Salesiano" for his taxi driver to get him just where he needed to be!


Hundreds of participants from all over the world are attending the event in Valdocco, which runs from 18 to 21 January, and aims to explore the Rector Major's Strenna for 2018: 'Sir, give me this water: Cultivating the art of listening and accompanying".

The event was opened by the Rector Major, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime SDB, and the Archbishop of Turin, Mons. Cesare Nosiglia will preside at the solemn Mass.



Bernard said: "After registering and checking into my room at the Ospiteria dell'Arsenale della Pace, I just wandered around the Basilica and buildings of Piedmont, and then attended mass in the church of Francis de Sales next to the original Chapel of the oratory. I am so privileged to be here, walking literally in Don Bosco's footsteps."

Day 2
Wow... Did not need to count any sheep.. I was asleep before my head hit the pillow... 
After prayer and meditation the morning talk was by sister Paula Casals FMA 
St Teresa said that you learn to pray by praying... Learn to share by sharing and learn to listen by listening 
Listening is not just from ears but with your eyes, body and manner. 
There is a translation of Sister Paula's paper in the Congress publication of all the talks. 


After lunch l really started to walk in both Don bBsco and  my mother’s footsteps on a tour of Valdocco. My mother was here in the 1980s on a Salesian pilgrimage. 
It was brilliant and am obtaining a CD of the tour for the website. 

The afternoon session was a paper presentation from Fr Juan Crespo on discernment and decision making in the process of accompaniment 
There was a group discussion on preparing advice for a Salesian Mentor for Article 4 no 5 of the Strenna. Here l met Sister Kay FMA from Glasgow. 

After a penitential service in the basilica.... Time for bed again

Day 3

No bread at breakfast... 
Today's 1st presentation on the art of Salesian encounter, accompaniment and discernment by Fr Michel Vojtas.
See the papers on the website p39. 
This was a thought provoking presentation and these are my comments from the talk. 
Based on the history, the background and creation of the preventive system of education. 
This is one of the pillars of the Salesian congregation, very much applying in today's world. The principles are timeless - all part of the Salesian way. 
We all need a mentor, Don Bosco had Don Coloso. 
When we reach the summit/goal of our achievement or journey, that is not the end. We must set out on a new journey to reach another summit/goal. 
That goal is not a straight line, it will have lots of bends so as to re-adjust on the way. 
Mentors must be generalist and not a subject specialist! 




The afternoon session was an emotional one in which youth across the world provided their experiences of salesian input into their lives and the effect it had on them. There were also 10 youths on stage, see pic, who also stated their commitment to an involvement in a Salesian life after experience of being mentored. 
This is obviously the way forward of implementing the Strensa. 


The evening session was a group discussion by some 60/70 cooperators from across the world on how we can create openings for the inclusion of youth into the Association. I will draft my report on this later from my note and post separately.  
The Congress announced the launch of a new salesian website www.basilicamariaausiliatrice.it on the occasion of this the 150th anniversary of the Basilica.  

The day was concluded with a celebration concert in the basilica.