youth ministry

Always a Champion!

DBYC Fellowship Day 2015 – “Palig-Samahan”
Prenovice John Paolo Romero

Canlubang, Calamba City, the Philippines, 06 December 2015–“Once a Bosconian, always a champion!” was the dominant cry of all the participants who attended the Inter-Don Bosco Youth Center (DBYC) Fellowship day held last Saturday.

The 5th of December 2015, commemoration of Bl. Philip Rinaldi, has been a day filled with smiles, fun and games for the DBYC members of the Philippine North (FIN) Province. This year’s DBYC Fellowship day was hosted and organized by the Mary Help of Christians Parish-Mayapa with the theme, “Palig-samahan.”

The main objective of the gathering was encapsulated in the theme which was coined by the DBYC-FIN in-charge, Fr. Dante Valero, SDB – Paligsahan and Samahan (Competition and Camaraderie) – to form friendship with one another while having healthy competitions through games and sports.

The event took off from the center – the Holy Eucharist. The Mass was presided by Fr. Jake Adrian Lopez, SDB, himself a product of the DBYC in St. Dominic Savio Parish-Mandaluyong.

In his homily, he exhorted the young people that they have a mission to spread the Word of God, which is Christ. He also challenged the participants to have at least one new friend before the day comes to a close.

After the Holy Mass, a short program was staged in the Don Bosco Canlubang gymnasium. Fr. Dante gave the opening remarks. Here, too, the pledge of sportsmanship of the participants took place. After which, the instructions and rules for the games where announced.

Overwhelmed and excited with the games, the young people headed to their respective room assignments to gear up for the games.

Forthwith, the basketball and football matches having three divisions each (12 years old and below, 17 years old and below, and 22 years old and below category) and the volleyball (female, 22 and below), started. Simultaneous with these games, special games like “bounce pa more (modified pingpong game),” were held around the campus.

After hours of exciting and tiring games, the event was culminated with the awarding of the winners of the games and special awards. The DBYC of the Don Bosco  Calauan reigned as the over-all champion for garnering the 1st runner-up in the Football (under 12), Basketball (under 22 and under 17) and Champion in Football (under 17) and Basketball (under 12).

Virtues-based awards were also given for the groups that were exemplary in conduct, the Sportmanship award was given to the Don Bosco Calauan, the Most Disciplined and Most Organized Awards were given to the DBYC of St. Dominic Savio Parish, while San Ildefonso Parish Makati bagged the Service award.

With the objective of being present in the midst of the young, the event was made possible by young Salesians in the theologate, postnovitiate and even our prenovices.

This fellowship among the various DBYC setting shows that Bosconians are not only exemplary in showing their talents and skills in playing sports but also in using sports to build friendship, camaraderie and character.

At the end of the day, the young people left the place not only with trophies, medals, certificates and awards but also with smiles and new friends. The exhortation of Fr. Jake in his homily has surely been fulfilled by each young people who attended the event – to share Christ and to have new friends.

The Roman Letter

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“Affectionately in Jesus Christ”: A characteristic way of how Don Bosco ends his letter.

On May 6, 1884, 131 years ago, St. John Bosco who was in Rome dictated a letter to his secretary, Fr. John Lemoyne. The letter neither contained empty pleasantries nor some sporadic housekeeping procedures the recipients ought to take note of. That important correspondence, as we know it now, is a synthesis of how Don Bosco desired his Salesians to deal with the young people.

This letter was mailed four day’s letter. But Fr. Michael Rua did not think that it should be read out in its entirety in public, and so he requested that a copy be sent to him that was suitable for the pupils.

The letter from Rome (you may download it here) is rightly called as such because it is precisely that—Don Bosco wrote it from Rome. But probably, it is more appropriate to call it “The letter from the heart,” because every single thought contained in the letter is unmistakably an expression of Don Bosco’s love for his Salesians and the young people of his oratories.

Fr. Peter Braido, one of the foremost experts in the field of the Preventive System, would say that “The eleven short pages constitute the clearest and most essential document of the pedagogy of Don Bosco, which is, in itself, one of the most meaningful in the whole of Christian pedagogy.

The letter touched on the subject of his deteriorating physical health—frail body, and his poor eyesight. But amidst all these, he never failed to mention how he delights to write to them, and how he looks forward to hear from them.

The first paragraphs of the letters, using the standard of our young people, sounded cheesy. He could not contain his emotions probably because he would always wear his heart on his sleeve, especially when he was composing that letter. He emphasized the brand of loving kindness which he hopes to be known for in his institute: patience, gentleness, and no humiliating remarks. He challenged the recipients, to exercise only these in the realm of the Oratory, and “the boys should not only be loved, but realize that they are loved.”

To speak of an authentic love of a Salesian is to make a distinction. Here, let me ask the help of the Pope Emeritus.

“Love,” the Holy Father said, “in the true sense, is not always a matter of giving way, being soft, and just acting nice. In that sense, a sugar-coated Jesus or a God who agrees to everything and is never anything but nice and friendly is no more than a caricature of real love. Because God loves us, because he wants us to grow into truth, he must necessarily make demands on us and must also correct us.”

Don Bosco, perhaps relying on the filial affection of his boys, openly speaks about what delights him: the practice of virtues, regularity in confessions and communion, which ultimately leads to the salvation of souls.

I first read that letter on the latter part of my novitiate. I thought that we would not tackle it since we seldom give attention to the appendix part of any textbook. After all, there is a reason why appendix is found at the last few pages of any publication if in case its author decides to come up with one. It is merely a supplement, something that can be dispensed with. We would not miss anything important if we skip that part. Things remain to be valid even without reading that section. But there is also a sufficient reason why there is an appendix. And why that letter has been part of our constitutions.

131 years after the letter was written, read and reflected on, have we managed to remain faithful to Don Bosco’s challenges to his Salesians? Will there be a need to write another letter?

The initial reaction was for me to see my locale vis-à-vis the setting when that letter was composed. With the ugly depiction the oratory morphed to be against the backdrop of the golden age of the glorious oratory, I saw the relevance of coming up with such a letter. There was a need for it. A reminder was in order.

As a young Salesian, I cringe whenever I am reminded that I ought to be a sign and bearer of God’s love for the young (C 2). This is such a tall order. But I am sure, it can be done. With God’s grace, I know that it is possible.

Again, this letter will only continue to be relevant if the message it articulates remains to be valid to the lives of those people concerned. After all, people and events which are worth celebrating are moments which continue to remain relevant to our lives.

Don Bosco did not write a treatise on pastoral charity. Instead, he composed a letter, ordering and begging his Salesians then—and especially now—to make themselves be present in the midst of the young.

This year, we celebrate Don Bosco’s 127th death anniversary. Year after year, we go farther and farther away from him. Nobody is left among his boys who encountered him in the flesh, but he left us a legacy which documents the pedagogy he wished to live and carried out by his sons.

His letter from Rome speaks eloquently of this paternal legacy we ought to treasure most.

Free E-Book Download

This book is a work of ten hands.

I wrote, Br. Jerome Quinto, SDB did the lay out, Br. Paul Dungca, SDB created the most beautiful cover page I could ever imagine. And the superior proofreading skills of Ms. Wenks Pasimio and Dr. Maan Gaerlan made it possible to purify my writing faux pas, and more importantly, made my thoughts a lot clearer.

This book is a compilation of goodnight talks I prepared and delivered when I was in my practical training in the seminary.

Each essay serves as a beautiful memento of my practical training now long gone and a reminder of that first fervor which I once had—and still wish to carry with me—up to that final moment when I am thrust back to the seedbed from where I came.

We released this book last year via the homepage of the Salesian Generalate. But I thought of sharing this e-book through this blog.  I found a way to make it available here. Click the link below to access the e-book, which you could read in your smart phones or save in your computer.

Thoughts from the Seedbed

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A confrere wrote a review about my book. Below is a snippet of his review. For a full review, you could click here.

If Don Bosco made a tradition out of his mother’s nightly practice of a few words, then Bro. Donnie has turned the Goodnight into a literary genre.  You find umpteen dozen collections of homilies around, but not so many collections of Good nights!  This brief collection may be very helpful, mutatis mutandis, in various parts of the region and indeed elsewhere.

The genre requires, we know, that one be pithy and succinct, and these are not easy to maintain in a consistent way in a literary form, let alone in speech, but Donnie has achieved this across some 20 Good nights given to young aspirants and prenovices (known as ‘sems’ or ‘seminarians’ in Filipino Salesian lingo).

Ang Tunay na Perlas

We were asked to prepare a good night talk for students. Here is what I prepared which, I think, is not only meant for young children, but also for all of us who are asked to surrender something to the Father.

In a special way, I offer this piece to a young friend whom I have not seen for so many years but, one gloomy evening came, confused and afraid with what to do with the pearl he has learnt to keep and love. I pray that like the little girl in this story, he may be able to open his heart to the Father, the source of all true, beautiful and finest pearls we all desire.

Narinig ko itong kuwentong ito noong bata pa akong seminarista. Malakas ang dating ng kuwento sa akin kaya gusto kong ibahagi sa inyo.

Si Ana ay isang 12-taong gulang na niregaluhan ng kanyang tatay ng kuwintas na perlas. Maganda ang mga perlas nito. Kaya lang peke ang mga ito. Pero hindi na bale. Maganda naman ito at bagay na bagay sa kanya. Pinakaiingatan niya ito ng husto.

Isinusuot niya lang ito sa mga ispesyal na okasyon. Nung grumadweyt siya noong nakaraang taon. Nung nag-birthday siya. Nung pasko at bagong taon. At nung dumating ang Santo Papa.

Isang araw, lumapit ang kanyang tatay sa kanya at hinihingi nito ang kuwintas. Dahil pinaka-iingatan niya ito, hindi niya ito ibinigay sa kanyang ama. Malungkot na umalis ang tatay niya.

Nang sumunod na linggo, muli siyang kinausap ng kanyang tatay at hinihingi nito sa kanya ang kuwintas. Ngunit matigas si Ana. Kahit pa peke ang kuwintas, hindi niya maaaring ibigay ito sa iba. Kahit pa sa mismong tatay niyang nagbigay nito sa kanya. Kinagabihan, napaisip siya. Nakunsiyensiya. ‘Mas mahalaga pa ba ang kuwintas ko kaysa sa kasiyahan ng aking ama?’

Kinabukasan, pagkatapos mag-almusal, pumunta siya sa kuwarto ng kanyang mga magulang upang ibigay ang kanyang pinakamamahal na kuwintas sa kanyang ama. Halos mapunit ang kanyang puso dahil ang bigat bigat ng nararamdaman niya. Punong puno ng luha ang kanyang mga mata.

Pero pagka-abot ni Ana ng kuwintas sa kanyang ama, laking gulat niya. Nakangiti ito at may iniabot sa kanya itong isang maliit na kahon. Dali-dali niya itong binuksan. Hindi siya makapaniwala. Ang tumambad sa kanyang paningin ay isang kuwintas na perlas. Katulad nang binigay niya sa kanyang ama. Ang kaibahan nga lang ay tunay ang mga perlas nito.

May mga bagay tayong gustong-gusto sa buhay. Masaya tayo kasi mayroon tayo nito.

Ang kuwintas ni Ana ay maaaring sumisimbolo ng paborito nating laruan, o pag-uugali, o mga kaibigan na maaaring hindi na nakakatulong sa ating pagiging isang mabuting bata. Hinihiling ng Ama na isuko natin ito.

Dahil katulad ni Ana na isinuko ang kanyang pekeng perlas, may inilaan ang ating Amang mas maganda, mas ispesyal para lang sa atin.

This is my SYM Journal Entry  #5-B

 

 

Some thoughts on “The Two Columns”

We’re given an assignment in our Youth Ministry class. We are to pick a good night talk  delivered by Don Bosco to the young people of his oratory and reflect on it.

I had in mind the one on The Two Columns, which  is found in the 7th volume of the Biographical Memoirs, pp 107-110. Googling that very topic (which was delivered by Don Bosco as a good night talk on the 30th of May in 1862)  made me realize that someone has uploaded this very dream of Don Bosco in the Internet.

Cool.

Aspirants and prenovices of Don Bosco Seminary in canlubang listen to a good night talk by one of their formators. Photo by Fr. Lonxs Eleosida, SDB.

Aspirants and prenovices of Don Bosco Seminary in canlubang listen to a good night talk by one of their formators. Photo by Fr. Lonxs Eleosida, SDB.

You see, I lost count on how many times I encountered the topic  on The Two Columns from the talks of the Salesians, it’s even depicted in that painting which features prominently the Eucharist and the Blessed Mother being supported by the two columns.

But I realized that nothing beats the actual reading of how Don Bosco himself narrated it to the boys.

Here are my thoughts.

First, the scene described in the dream was a battle. A naval battle. And a battle is best described during the very encounter, which is not clearly manifested in  the painting itself since what it does is to just present the aftermath.

The actual battle in Don Bosco’s very dream, in my opinion, is more exciting and meatier. And we can only appreciate it if we do read the very narrative. For one, it’s interesting that it’s not just a mere showdown of armaments in as much as books (twice mentioned in the dream) and pamphlets figured in the actual battle.

Don Bosco must have been telling us that the battle is not just through force, but also in the realm of information.

Second, Id’ like to zero in on the reaction of the boys. Fr. Lemoyne notes that:

“this dream caused the boys no end of wonderment, especially regarding the two popes, but Don Bosco volunteered no further information.”

This was the effect of the dream to those who were there when he delivered it. But there are also speculations about the identity of the popes mentioned in the dream. One blogger goes beyond the traditional interpretation of the dream and sees the Two Pillars as a

Second Pentecost [that] would be secured by a pope who would succeed the assassination of his immediate predecessor

Third, my attention was drawn into the comments made about the good night talk. Again, Fr. Lemoyne observes that

“The clerics [John] Boggero, [Secundus] Merlone, and [Dominic] Ruffino, and a layman, Caesar Chiala, wrote down this dream. We still have their manuscripts; two were written on May 31 and two much later. All four narratives agree perfectly except for the omission of some details.”

I recall that when we were in Canlubang, after each goodnight, we would rush back to the study hall, pull out our journals from our drawers and record the insight we heard from our formators.

This recording of good nights, I’d like to believe, runs in our blood as children of Don Bosco. Then and now.

This is my SYM Journal Entry  #5-A

At home with Don Bosco

Patrick David Cenon, through this piece, makes us mindful about challenges of moving to another country entail, but meeting a community of Salesians, sons of St. John Bosco, prove to be of help in the necessary adjustment.

St. John Bosco inspires not just young people but Catholic faithful from all walks of life. As we begin the novena days in honor of The Saint of Youth, #HappyBirthdayDonBosco team shares with you reflections of various professionals who have been influenced by our beloved Saint. Graphics by Mark Anthony Ramos.

St. John Bosco inspires not just young people but Catholic faithful from all walks of life. As we continue with the novena days in honor of The Saint of Youth, #HappyBirthdayDonBosco team shares with you reflections of various professionals who have been influenced by our beloved Saint. Graphics by Mark Anthony Ramos.

I am writing from Brussels, Belgium.  I recently moved here last November to pursue a career at Toyota.  Living in a foreign land has many challenges.  One of which is the need to find something familiar.

I have lived close to 30 years in Barangay Don Bosco, attended 10 years of school in Don Bosco Makati, stayed in the seminary, Don Bosco Canlubang for 1 year.  My dad and brother are both Bosconians.  So too are a significant number of my close friends, some of whom are Salesian priests.  Once you take that into consideration, it is not hard to imagine how comforting it must be to find a Salesian community overseas.

That is why upon arrival in Brussels, I made an effort to look for a Salesian community here in Brussels.  I found a Don Bosco school that teaches elementary, high school and college.  It is Don Bosco Wolouve Saint Lambert approximately 15 minutes away by car from my apartment.  It celebrates mass every Sunday in a small chapel which seats around 80 people.

While language is a barrier, the Salesian charisma and values facilitates good understanding between me and members of my community.  The community has been very warm and welcoming.  They even asked me to light the candles in the advent wreath during the December Masses.  I guess from this experience, I can truly say that the Salesian charisma transcends language and culture as I have been able to find a sense of family and belongingness in this community.  I thank God that Don Bosco has been a significant part of my life.

Happy 200 years Don Bosco!

Patrick David Cenon has been working in Toyota for 9 years and specializes in Organization and People Development.

“God sees you”

Through this piece, Sir Erbert V. dela Resma allows us to access the internal struggles he experienced in a recent life crisis, and his realization how God’s all knowing presence can help soothe the pain. This, he attributes to the guidance of our beloved Saint, Don Bosco.

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St. John Bosco inspires not just young people but Catholic faithful from all walks of life. As we continue with the novena days in honor of The Saint of Youth, #HappyBirthdayDonBosco team shares with you reflections of various professionals who have been influenced by our beloved Saint. Graphics by Mark Anthony Ramos.

There was this one time when I gazed at this eerie picture of Jesus. He is looking straight and He is serious. Not angry. Not smiling. Just serious. What was eerie is that, wherever you turn or go, Jesus’ stare follows. It’s as if He is telling me “I see you. I’m watching.” No wonder the picture was given the name, “the Eye.”

God Sees You”

I first learned of this statement when I was in grade school at Mary Help of Christians School, here in Canlubang, Laguna. Our teachers told us that Mama Margaret taught Don Bosco, then a little boy, the saying “God sees you.”

However, recent events in our life as a family taught me that God does not just see things. He does not just watch. He joins. He goes along. He participates. I learned that just last November. Mom had her longest sleep which started November 9 and lasted until November 17.

During those times, we were anxious and very worried. Although we were busy trying to manage things for her, we were very much afraid. As we were waiting in fear of the unwanted, we were praying. Praying that whatever it is that we were afraid of will not happen. We were praying that God would give us one more chance to be complete as a family, just one more chance.

But as the days went on, we were lead to praying that whatever happens, we will all be ready.

The days that passed became days of preparation. We were made prepared for the inevitable. The process was very painful because we had to wait and watch mom suffer in her sleep. It would have been easier for me if she could talk. At least we could get some response. At least we could make her respond. It would have been easier. Or so I thought.

But then again, we felt we were being prepared. Mom’s favorite people started coming: from her long-lost friends and then-workmates, to all of her friends from the Shrine of Mary Help of Christians here in Don Bosco College. And from the time when mom was brought to the central ICU until she was finally transferred to a private room, the moments were filled with chit-chats and prayer moments. (And even the ICU sounded like “I SEE YOU.”) Those were days when God watched – He watched and was fully present. He knew our inner stirrings: our worries, our anxieties, our fears and our unwillingness to surrender everything. And he understood. He even felt with us. And, I might have guessed, He even cried at our tired-and-sleepless-silence. He was watching. He was never far. He was with us all the way, through the people He sent and the other interventions that happened.

Mom had her longest sleep and it ended early morning of November 17, Sunday, when she finally woke up in heaven.

I would believe now that what Mama Margaret really meant when she told little Johnny “God Sees You” was that God IS WITH you. He watches. He sees deep. And He is never far. And I also believe that this is what Don Bosco also meant when he developed the Salesian Presence and the Salesian Assistance. God sees you. And He does so with the help of the Salesian priests and brothers, and the teachers when they go to the Bosconians during break times and assist them. Maybe join their games, laugh with them, and even help them pick up trash here-and-there. At first I thought of Salesian Assistance purely as a task and a workload. But now I fully realized its main point: God sees us. God IS WITH us. He joins us. He goes along with us. He participates in our activities. He assists us. He does not judge, but He surely makes us better. I realize now that He has called me to be the same for the young.

Erbert V. dela Resma is a Salesian Educator in Don Bosco College – Canlubang. The family is actively serving in the Diocesan Shrine of Mary Help of Christians as members of the Choir and Music Ministry, the Knights of the Altar, and the Lectors and Commentators Ministry.