Liverpool January 7th Report.
This was the first day back at school for many students so it was fantastic for a number of schools to get large numbers to Liverpool Cathedral. Students visited from St John Bosco Croxteth, Thornleigh College Bolton, Savio High School Bootle, All Saints Primary Bootle, St Anselm's Birkenhead, Blessed Trinity Burnley. During the day over 3,500 people visited Don Bosco's relics.
The morning was filled with a buzz of anticipation as people waited to visit the relic. The pilgrim experience became a youthful mixture of conversation, spinning plates, magic tricks and story telling all of which helped younger visitors to understand something about Don Bosco and how they wanted to pray at his relic. Jessica Wilkinson told stories about Don Bosco's dreams, a whole team helped young people to put their thoughts into words as prayers and others were teaching plate spinning. Plate spinning in church? It was a way to introduce the idea of balanced living in a memorable way. Many students had prepared by watching the Don Bosco film and had answers ready for all our questions. Some lucky youngsters went away with multi coloured “Don Bosco hats.”
As the young people went away more adults arrived after having seen the coverage on BBC Northwest. Two sisters came because they wanted to know why their now deceased aunt took the name Don Bosco when professed as a Franciscan in the mid 1930s. A retired university professor came and waited alongside a Nigerian family and shared their concerns about young people. The conversations flowed around the pool of light within which the relic rested.
A farewell mass for the relics was celebrated by Bishop Tom Williams and Bishop Terry Drainey from Middlesbrough Diocese. In the homily Bishop Drainey praised the relics team for the joy and energy that had surrounded the event which he described as a moment of grace for the whole of the northern dioceses. At the end of the mass the 30 concelebrants and the road crew accompanied the relic out of the cathedral and cheered and sang as it was taken back to the specialised vans designed for this world tour. Just as the doors of the van closed a distraught family arrived from Birkenhead and were disappointed to have missed the opportunity. The Italian members of the road crew opened the van for them and helped them climb up as a family to spend some time alone with Don Bosco.
The team and relics left for Birmingham St Chad's Cathedral where Don Bosco's relics will remain for two days before moving on to Cardiff.