By Elizabeth Peake
While on our World Youth Day pilgrimage, the presence of Don Bosco was apparent throughout our journey. As we began our pilgrimage, our group travelled to Italy prior to the festivities in Poland. In Italy, we visited Rome where we observed the Statue of St John Bosco in St. Peter’s Basilica. Don Bosco dreamed of the view from where his statue was erected after he was canonized. While it was Pope Pius XI who canonised him in 1934, it was Pope John Paul II who designated him as “Father and teacher of youth”. This was quite fitting for our pilgrimage to World Youth Day as it was Saint John Paul II who initiated this event in 1985 and was the Patron Saint of WYD in Poland this year (July 2016).
After our stay in Rome we travelled to Torino (Turin) where Saint John Bosco lived after his ordination. This was also the place where Don Bosco started his ministry of looking after the youth in his neighbourhood, especially the boys who many had given up on. We were lucky enough to have Archbishop Timothy Costelloe journey with us to Italy. As many would know our Archbishop was ordained a priest in the Salesian Order; the order that Saint Don Bosco founded and it was wonderful to share this experience with him.
It was here in Turin that we visited the Saint John Bosco Centre where we truly felt the Salesian spirit along with the heart of Don Bosco and our Salesian family. As it was my first visit to Turin, along with Graham, the Coordinator of the Salesian Summer Camps in Perth, it was an incredible experience learning more about how Saint John Bosco helped young boys in Turin who needed a little bit of understanding and someone to believe in and love them. Don Bosco did this when not many would and thus all the children that were taken in by him grew to love and respect him as their own father. It was an incredible feeling knowing that we were walking on the same grounds where miracles were witnessed, where he taught, preached and played with his boys.
While on our tour of the centre we stopped at the site where Don Bosco used to give his inspirational goodnights to the boys, a tradition that I realised we carried on at our camps each summer. We observed the mostly untouched rooms and items of Don Bosco, the tombs of Saint Don Bosco and Saint Maria Mazzarello who cofounded the archconfraternityand the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. We left the Don Bosco centre feeling inspired to grow the Salesian presence here in Perth and spread love with the same enthusiasm as Saint John Bosco.
During the Archbishops homily at mass celebrated in the Basilica of Maria Ausiliatrice (Our Lady Help of Christians) he reminded us that it is not enough to just love someone but to show that we love them, to love as Jesus loved. Don Bosco lived to love and serve others as Jesus did.
“It’s not enough to love the children, it is necessary that they are aware that they are loved” – Saint John Bosco
“By means of affection, gain the heart of the youth” SJB