The Salesian Immersion experience provides staff members with the opportunity to engage in the Salesian spirit and to gain a deeper understanding of our Salesian way of being. The three of us who attended met Salesian staff from seven Salesian schools across the south east of Australia. We discovered that Salesian schools connect with young people in many diverse settings and environments, but always with the purpose of enriching the lives of the young people with whom we meet.
On Thursday 7 March we visited the Province Centre in Ascot Vale, where we enjoyed mass and a shared meal kindly prepared for us by the staff of the centre.
On Friday 8 March, we began the morning with a visit to the Don Bosco Hostel and Youth Centre in Brunswick. Here we entered into an oasis of an enclosed courtyard, free from the noise and traffic of Sydney road. A message dominated the western wall of the youth centre that summarises the work of Don Bosco and inspires all Salesians. “The world is my family, you are my brothers and sisters. My religion is the good work that I do.”
After our visit to Brunswick, we embarked upon our journey to Salesian College in Sunbury. Set over 1000 acres, we explored the beautiful grounds of the College on a tour led by two student leaders. We participated in two presentations within the Salesian College mansion, which has now been reclaimed as the College’s Reception. Of course, it was also nice to see the ‘Ashes Oval’ firsthand!
Fr John Papworth SDB held the first presentation at the College, in which he examined in depth the role of the Oratory as first envisioned by Don Bosco. Fr Papworth focussed on his drive to provide a safe haven, to encourage learning and to enliven prayer. Fr Papworth emphasised that the most significant qualification a Salesian educator can hold is not one gained from university but the desire to uphold the dignity of the young people we work with. To be true to the Salesian spirit we must strive to nurture Good Christians and honest citizens. Fr Papworth also shared with us some never before seen photos of Don Bosco, which were incredibly interesting to examine.
All in all, our Salesian Immersion experience was an incredibly positive one. We are grateful for the opportunity to provide context to our work at Salesian College Chadstone.
Mr Chris Seeber, Miss Nikita Rodrigues and Mr Chris Ryan