Birmingham Day Two Don Bosco Relics January 9th 2013
Yesterday over 900 people came to venerate the relic at St Chad’s
Today over 1,100 people visited Don Bosco
St Chad's Cathedral Birmingham opened its doors for second day of veneration of the relics of St John Bosco, patron and friend of youth. The pilgrim experience was focussed on young people in their teens from around the archdiocese. The road crew accompanied them through activities and reflections on the life of Don Bosco which included stories, magic tricks and spinning plates. There was an atmosphere of celebration and reflection throughout the morning interrupted on a regular basis by flurries of clapping and laughter. In this way it reflected the spirituality of the genial Don Bosco who believed so much in young people and saw holiness and cheerfulness as intimately connected.
The later morning saw the celebration of mass with all the young people in a full cathedral led by Archbishop Bernard Longley . Bishop Philip Pargeter concelebrated and revealed later that he had always had a great devotion to Don Bosco since his days of teaching at Cotton College. In his homily Archbishop Bernard spoke to the young people about his own visit to Turin to venerate the relics of Don Bosco. He said that we have had the privilege of Don Bosco coming to visit us in this archdiocese and that it was typical of Don Bosco to take the initiative in going out to others. He encouraged young people to be cheerful and holy.
It was good to see some small groups from Syro-Malabar rite visiting the relics, reminding us of the international nature of this pilgrimage and its message of balanced spirituality across the world. The hunger for a friendly confession with a cheerful and optimistic welcome has been amply demonstrated.
A group visited the relics today from All Saints School in York and took the opportunity to bring some northern accents into the experience. Their experience of the visit and confession was expressed in very positive terms. It could be that one of the effects of this pilgrimage might be to renew the practice of this sacrament as an experience of compassion and optimism for the future. Another outcome may be the recognition that it is within the changing and complex relationships between people that there is an opportunity to hear the spiritual dimension of ordinary life captured by the Gospel.
A lady visited Don Bosco's relics today by accident. She was passing by and wondered what the activity was about. After making the pilgrim experience she spent some time at the relic and then spoke to Bro Kevin. She told him that her brother had died of a heart attack suddenly over Christmas and since then she had been full of confusion and a heavy heart. Putting her hand on the relic and being still she felt a new sense of peace and calm and came away with the certainty that things would be OK. Saying that, she went out onto the street looking the same on the outside but with a new inner strength.
At the final service Siobhan, one of the road crew, called us to prayer. The Archbishop led a reflection on peace and justice and Fr Bob Gardner SDB led a goodnight reflection on the experience of Itzhak Perlman playing a concert with only three strings on his violin. He offered the following quote from Itzhac Perlman as his goodnight thought:
“Sometimes it is an artist's task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left”.
After the final hymn Don Bosco's relics were taken out of the Cathedral and the congregation sang as the relics were transferred to the specially designed van that will carry them on to Cardiff Metropolitan Cathedral.
Tonight the road crew packed up the equipment and are also on the way to Cardiff; to the early mission that was established in part by Don Bosco early friend Fr Gastaldi at St David's mission.