Tuesday, 15 January 2013

First report Battersea Departure January 15th

Guests from all over Britain gathered to say farewell to Don Bosco's relics as they left from the the Church of The Sacred Heart in Battersea; the last foundation by Don Bosco before his death.

The fourteen day pilgrimage ended with thanksgiving and blessings for all those involved and for the hidden and not so hidden good that the pilgrimage has generated in the hearts of many people across the nation. Over 20,000 people have visited Don Bosco's relics and the stories of their encounter with the saint of youth have been captured by many members of the team in moving conversations from Glasgow to the South of London.

The final service saw Archbishops and bishops gathering to acknowledge the debt we all owe to this saint. During the service Jess Barnett, a team member spoke about her uncertainty about the idea of a relic but meeting an old visitor who was able to play games and do action songs and speak of his dreams for his grandchildren convinced Jess that something special was happening that had little to do with bones.

The presence of Danny Curtain and representatives of CYMFED and progression pointed out the wide range of appeal Don Bosco holds form many areas of Catholic ministry. The team have said that they were delighted and overwhelmed by the warmth and welcome they have encountered ineach Cathedral community as well as in Basildon where they were hosted by wonderful families from the parish in Laindon. The privilege of making this journey through the grass roots of the church has transformed the image of the church in many youthful minds.

Fr Coyle spoke of his gratitude for so many people and places that had hosted the relics and for the sense of church that had grown and developed in the process. The theme of holiness as cheerfulness leading to a balanced spirituality was reinforced by the joy and energy in the church. Because of that energy of the spirit we were all surprised that our own lives had been transformed, perhaps forever, by this experience.

After a unique litany of thanksgiving that followed Don Bosco's favourite piece of scripture from the letter to the Phillipians , the team gathered to receive commemorative medals for their pilgrimage work. Then as the team launched into the pilgrimage song, Friend of youth, there was an explosion of white confetti over the team and the relic. As the relic was moved on in the care of Fr Michael , Provincial of the Irish province, the altar was left open with the symbol of the catholic youth ministry federation lit by a candle. It remains as a symbol that the legacy of the pilgrimage lies with the catholic youth of Great Britain . This event now flows back into the normal pattern of yoyth ministry in the church.