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Bosco Eastern Africa Multimedia - Message to the Salesian Youth Movement of AFE from the Rector Major

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Chief Editor:
Fr. Sebastian Koladiyil
Editorial Team:
Fr. LUIS Neville
Fr. FELICE Molino
Sr. VIRGINIA Bickford
Administration Office
Tel: 0706 349 971
0789 479 161
Bosco Eastern Africa Multimedia
Services [B.E.A.M.S.]
P.O. Box 2 - 00502, Karen - Kenya.
Tel: 0772 770 468
0734 719 449
Layout & Design
Anthony Mungai
Tel: 0721 582 787
Photos Courtesy
Printed by:
P.O. Box 158 - 01020,
Makuyu, Kenya
2 Editorial
3 Mary, a Mother for Every Day
6 Holiness is for all
9 SYM Forum 2013
11 SYM - Life Changing Experience
13 Message to the Salesian Youth Movement of
16 Young People be a Light that Gathers
Different kinds of Insects
17 “Don Bosco Between”
19 Salesian Schools, Larvae for Vocations
20 A Boy with a Dream
22 A Gate of Hope in Gisenyi, Rwanda
23 Friends of Don Bosco
24 How an Orphan Became a Great Father
25 A Salesian Cooperator... Why not?
27 Peace-march by the Catholic Church in
29 Mission: A Journey not a Destination
31 The Best New Year Gift
33 One Day I will tell My Story
36 Education for Empowerment
39 Number of Pastoral Workers killed in 2013
Nearly Doubles
40 Film: 12 Years of Slave
The Salesian Bulletin was founded by St. John Bosco
in 1877. ‘Don Bosco Eastern Africa’ is the Salesian
Bulletin published by the Salesians of Don Bosco,
Eastern Africa Province Nairobi, Kenya.
We welcome letters to the Editor. Send
your comments and suggestions.
From the
He is in our backyard
I spent last Christmas (2013) in Kakuma Refugee camp which is
located in Turkana District part of the north western region of Kenya.
This camp, one of the largest in the world serves refugees who have been forcibly displaced
from their home countries due to war or persecution. (pg. 36) As I write this there are
138,814 officially registered and thousands of other unregistered refugees are there. Many
more are flocking to Kakuma from the war torn South Sudan.
The reality I witnessed, the life I saw of the refugees living there, was truly a call for
a reality check on the self-complacent life we live ignoring the fact that such people do
exist. I had chances to mingle with hundreds of malnourished children who were always
hungry, young able bodied men walking around having nothing to do, people who are
in need of everything, young people and children who know only the camp because
they were born in the camp and others born as their parents were on the run from the
persecution of their home countries. I also listened to the stories of survival, courage
and determination. I saw young volunteers who walk kilometres to various parts of the
camp in the scorching sun to organize games and to teach catechism to children. What an
ideal place for Salesians to bring alive our charism. Being Christmas the churches were
packed and I saw choirs from different nationalities singing and the people totally lost
in calling on God, forgetting at least for a moment all their pain of being a refugee. They
contemplated on the reality of Jesus who was a refugee himself in Egypt in his early days.
And I looked for baby Jesus among the newly born children there, who were many, and
I found them, many like Jesus who had no proper place, to be born. In Bethlehem it was
cold but in Kakuma it was very hot and dusty, but Jesus was there, being born, suffering
and moving from one place to another, lacking a safe environment, proper food etc. but
he was there. Jesus was there. And I wondered, we look for Jesus everywhere, in the
cribs, in the big churches but we fail to look for him in our backyard…
One of the outstanding event that took place in the Salesian province of Eastern Africa was
the SYM Youth Forum. Statements such as “Young people do not like to pray” was proved
wrong by what was witnessed during the days of SYM from 16 th to 22 nd Dec. 2014. It was
wonderful to see the joy and happiness being celebrated by the young during the moments
of cultural expressions, games and free time and it was wonderful to witness how they
spent their quite moments of reflections, prayer time, Mass and how majority of the youth
celebrated the moments of reconciliation. No, the young people love to pray and spent
time living their faith in a joyful manner. The experiences written by few clearly shows that
those days of intense living of their faith was a way they proved all the sceptics that young
people are not religious. In his message to the forum Rector Major Fr. Pascual Chávez told
the members of SYM that “He wants us to share His joy, His love, His beauty. Believing is
about life, and life to the full and Faith is a journey of love, received and offered”.
We need to walk with our young people not only during those few days of celebration of
faith but it is more important to accompany then during the ordinary moments of day to
day life.
Sebastian Koladiyil
She took me gently by the
I have a most beautiful and tender memory
from my childhood. I was about nine or
ten years old when I had a dream. It was a
dream that left an indelible mark upon my
life. I saw a bunch of boys engrossed in their
play; after some time went by, their play
degenerated into a furious fight: fists were
flying, and there was kicking, swearing, and
even blasphemies. I went on the attack. Then
a majestic Gentleman interrupted me, to
point out to me a much better way of making
these boys behave better. Then suddenly
a splendid Lady appeared, warm and
lovely: she gestured that I should approach
her. Since I was so confused by this rapid
sequence of scenes, she took me by the hand.
This delicate gesture of motherly kindness
won me over completely. I can assure you,
very simply, that I’ve never let go of that
hand; and I’ll always cling tightly to it, until
I die.
When I came into the world…
Even as a child I soaked in the Marian religious and devotional atmosphere of the
time. Mary was at home among us. I’m well aware that a good Salesian wrote of
me, “Mary was everywhere around him.” It gave me pleasure to read that statement
because it really was so. Families recited the Rosary daily, every evening. The Angelus
divided up our days precisely, at six in the morning, at noon, and at six in the evening.
I learned from my mother to venerate and to celebrate the Madonna through the
popular devotions of the places where I lived: Our Lady of the Rosary, Our Lady of
the Castle in Castelnuovo, Our Lady of the Steps and Our Lady of Grace in Chieri,
Our Lady of Sorrows, Our Lady of Consolation. She had so many ways of holding my
I still remember the last night before I entered the seminary at Chieri. In our humble
little house at Becchi, my mother was packing up my gear. She chose that moment
for an important disclosure, a mother-son secret: “Dear Johnny, when you came into
Mary, a Mother for Every Day
this world, I dedicated you to the Blessed Virgin; when you began your studies, I
recommended that you be devoted to this Mother of ours; now I recommend that you
be entirely hers.” My holy mother knew that infant mortality was frightfully high in
those times, as much in the hovels of the poor as in the palace of the king. “I dedicated
you” meant: I entrusted you to Mary, I offered you to her, you belong to her! It was a
trusting act of handing me over to the Mother who can do everything. “We hope for
much from someone who can do much”: many times I told others what I heard so often
from my mother. So, whenever I was among the boys, I would hand on to them the
same devotional style: not as a habit for holy days, something you do just on Sunday,
but as a daily, familiar meeting with Mary, who is our mother every day!
The Immaculate Help of Christians: it’s she who has
done everything
There was a very specific devotion, solid, rather bare-bones, never fickle, without
sentimentality. I constantly reminded the boys: “Mary wants action and not
appearance.” Hence my insistence: “To be close to the Madonna you must honor
her Son.” I presented Mary to them as the one who brings us to Jesus. I summarized
everything as “flee whatever is evil, and do what is good out of love for Mary.” What’s
more practical and specific than this?
Two certainties sustained me.
First of all, I persisted in presenting Mary as the Immaculate. There were historical
reasons, such as the definition of that dogma in 1854, and then, as if to confirm it, the
apparitions at Lourdes in 1858. There were important dates. In my little experience
I could hardly forget December 8, 1841, when that providential encounter with
Bartholomew Garelli happened. Forty-five years later, while I was boarding the train
from Spain for my return to Turin, I remembered that encounter with emotion and
gratitude: “All the blessings showered upon us by heaven are the fruit of that first
Hail Mary said with fervor and the right intention.”
There were also pastoral reasons: from my contacts with youthful vulnerability,
I knew very well the tremendous need that my boys had of fixing their
gaze on Mary, the one full of grace, and of receiving from her an
inviting message of purity and holiness, so as to be able
to live in the joy of knowing they were God’s
At Valdocco in 1854 I
dealt with Dominic Savio,
that marvelous boy who
proposed for himself the
goal of being made into “a
beautiful suit for the Lord.”
With him other youths (almost
all of them future Salesians!)
were part of the Immaculate
Conception Sodality, which
became a precious leaven of good among their companions. In their Rule they
proposed to “master every obstacle and to be firm in our resolutions, strict with
ourselves, loving toward our neighbor, and exact in everything.” Thanks to them, a
new path of youthful holiness was opened up.
Then, with the passing of years, as I perceived that the faith was lessening also
among common people, I realized that it had become ever more urgent to spread
devotion to the Madonna under the title of Help of Christians, she who lends her
hand, she who helps us, she who never loses sight of us, she who keeps us united with
the Church. I wasn’t the inventor of devotion to the Help of Christians; what I was,
was her staunch, tireless promoter. I explained to my first Salesians: “It’s no longer
the lukewarm who need to be set on fire, sinners who must be converted, innocent
people who must be safeguarded; rather, it’s the Catholic Church herself who is
being attacked.”
I remember, even if a shiver of fear runs over me still today, the morning on which
I began the excavations for building the beautiful shrine dedicated to her. With all
solemnity, I emptied my miserable little purse into the hands of the contractor: all
that came out were eight measly copper pennies, my down payment. But I was certain:
“In her I’ve put all my trust.” That same morning some letters that I’d written the
previous night were still lying on my desk; we didn’t even have money in the house
to buy postage stamps! The Madonna would be my “treasurer.” I can assure you: she
proved to be a top-notch treasurer!
When I managed to finish the construction, I could tell the faithful who gathered
there: “Do you see that church? Mary built it, I’d say, by working miracles.”
Now and at the hour of the our death
Salesian scholars who have written so much about me with such love, with care
and precision, are aware that in the last prayers I made on my deathbed, it wasn’t the
now-customary invocation Mary Help of Christians that flowed from my lips, but the
supplication: Mother, Mary most holy, Mary, Mary. Was this my inadvertence? No!
There’s certainly an explanation.
At the end of my life, in the final gasps of my agony, I was at last able to understand
everything. I wanted to die just like the little child of that dream 62 years earlier.
With the Madonna who took me gently by the hand, while I murmured: “O Mother …
Mother … open for me the gates of paradise.”
Holiness is for all
Among the many things I have written, you will search in vain for my
spiritual diary, a description of my intimate journey, or an autobiography
in which people might see my spirituality. It was not my style.
Maybe because of that natural reserve which is typical of country people,
or more likely because of the formation I received, I never felt like opening
up. I preferred to keep in my heart the memory of so many experiences,
struggles and apostolic achievements, rather than express them in public.
For this reason, you will not find in my books and in my conversations or confidences
any evidence of my personal relationship with God and his mystery.
My experience with the Lord
I was not born a saint. I tell you that directly and in all simplicity. I struggled a lot to
be faithful to the Lord, and to live up to my Christian commitments. I can assure you,
it was not always easy. Saints have to become saints, little by little. Nobody has yet
invented an instrument that measures holiness. Everything is grace, the collaboration
of the creature with the Creator. And grace is beyond human control, because it is a
gift from God.
I’ve always been an optimist by nature and out of personal conviction. I was never
careless, much less naive. For me, life has always been, and continues to be, a wise and
demanding teacher. I knew that it entails challenges and is never without difficulty
or trial.
So that you can understand the ideal I had in my heart, I am going to write down
now some reflections I had when I was about to enter the seminary in Chieri. I was
20 years old at the time! I was no longer a kid or a naive teenager dreamer ...
“My life as it had been up to then, needed to be radically reformed. I had not been
bad up to that, but I was dissipated,
boastful, busy in games and sport,
jumping, amusements and other
similar things that made me happy
at the time, but did not satisfy my
heart.” For her part, my mother -
despite the intense emotion she
felt when she saw me dressed in a
cassock – said to me very clearly:
“You have the garment of a priest.
Remember that it is not the dress
that honours your state. It is the
practice of virtue. I would rather
have a poor farmer for a son than a
priest who neglects his duties.”
In all humility and sincerity, I have
always tried to serve God and work for his
glory. Believe me, this is not a cliché. In my
time that was a real life programme. It was the
secret of my relationship with God, summed up
in a phrase that also explained my service to young
people. I really believed in it, you know. I was convinced,
and experience confirmed it for me day after day, that the young people I
met in the bars and on the streets of Turin, in the prisons, or employed by inhuman
masters, really needed a helping hand, someone to take care of them, look after them,
and lead them away from their bad habits to a better way of life. The dream I had at
Becchi when I was nine or ten years old continued to pound my mind and my heart.
I became convinced that only a holy priest totally committed to God would be able to
offer them security and confidence, a full sense of life, joy in their hearts and, above all,
hope. That’s the conclusion I reached - holiness would be the best gift I could give them.

When I met St Francis de Sales
Obviously, I did not meet him in person - I was born 250 years after him! There was
one of his books in circulation in Piedmont at the time. I read it and found there a
sentence that struck me and became the programme of my priestly life. I remember
reading, “It is a mistake, or rather a heresy, to try to banish the devout life from
the military, from the mechanic’s workshop, the court of princes or the home of
married people ... Wherever we are we can and must aspire to a perfect life.” That
became my goal! I tried to live it and offer it to my boys. It demanded courage!
Speaking of holiness (yes, I did use that word!) to those boys seemed to most people
an impossible task, but I believed in it. And I can say with conviction that to be holy
is a wonderful ideal, and it’s not difficult! Our friendship and fidelity to the Lord
will one day be rewarded. I presented holiness as a vocation, something beautiful
and attractive, but I also explained that it was demanding. It required sacrifice and
renunciation. Practical holiness means fulfilling your daily duties well and living in
friendship with the good God who made us all friends. This was a way of holiness that
made young people apostles of their companions with friendliness and simplicity.
I called it “the holiness of everyday life”. Then I added a feature that I have always
considered fundamental: it had to be a joyful holiness, which attracts us to what is
good, that fascinates us and makes us “saviours of other young people”.

Almost blocked in the Vatican…
At that time I felt I was already in heaven. I knew that here on the earth people
were talking about an issue that, in my opinion, never existed! Given the immense
amount of work and worries that beset me, some people were convinced that I did not
have the time to pray. They began to ask, “When does Don Bosco pray?” The question
could not be evaded. Indeed it merited a response. They discovered then a secret
that I always thought did not need to be shouted to
the four winds: the whole of my life was a prayer,
because I prayed life! I taught this programme to my
Salesians and I recommended it to young people as
well. Spending hours in the confessional was prayer.
So was writing dozens of letters late at night in the
flickering light of a candle, going up and down the
endless marble steps of the many houses I visited,
having a friendly chat with the boys in the yard,
celebrating Mass, gazing into the face of Mary Help
of Christians… all this was prayer! Prayer was living
in God’s presence, as I had learned as a boy from
my good Mother. For me, prayer was abandoning
myself in total confidence to God’s Providence. But teaching young people a trade,
finding a job for many young men so that they could always be “good Christians and
honest citizens” – this was also prayer. I prayed when I gave the farewell kiss to the
first missionaries departing for Argentina, when I visited the Pope, when I welcomed
bishops who had been driven from their diocese, when I wrote one of the many books
of the Catholic Readings, when I multiplied the loaves in the basket or the hosts at the
time of communion, when I was travelling from Turin to Barcelona or Paris to find
the money needed to build the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Rome, or the money
that was needed to spread the Gospel in the Argentine pampas. I was always going
full swing, but my heart was always in intimacy with the Lord.
A Young Saint for Young People
I have said it many times: I was called for young people, especially those who were
most in need of love and hope. They have always been the reason for my being and
my actions. But I did not want them for myself. A priest, a very dear friend of mine,
once said: “As a mother nourishes herself in order to nourish her child, Don Bosco
nourished himself with God, to be able to nourish the rest of us.” With all humility,

I assure you that I see myself in these simple but true words. I wanted the young
people to be my friends because I passionately wanted them to become friends of
God. When one is a friend of God, one is on the way of holiness!
The Salesian Youth movement (SYM) is a vast movement of young people who live
the Salesian Youth spirituality. It was founded on the centenary of the death of St. John
Bosco, the founder of the Salesian family. This was in 1988. Don Bosco’s passion for
education of the poorest young people motivated him into founding this family. He lived
in the 19 th century and his spirituality and pedagogy is lived until today all over the world.
SYM comprises groups and associations which accept the Salesian Youth spirituality
and pedagogy. While retaining their autonomy in organizational and operational
terms, they guarantee a high quality educational presence in the new forms of
socialization of young people animating them to have a meaningful experience of
church life. As a movement of young people, SYM brings together young people
from different backgrounds, those who are far from the church and those for whom
spirituality is barely a seed and those who explicitly and consciously taken upon
themselves the Salesian proposal and apostolic commitment.
One particular purpose of the movement is to form Good Christians and Honest
citizens, formed at school of the Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello, co- foundress of
the Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco.
SYM is not just one group like a club or a sodality but it comprises of all the groups
within the local community. It does not comprise of all the students in a Salesian
school or members of a youth centre. The large masses of young people in our settings
are invited to join freely one or two groups. The groups can be apostolic groups
(sodalities or Vyama vya kitume), interest groups such as clubs (music, sports drama
etc) or other established groups such as Young Christian students (YCS), scouts
etc.It is not an administrative structure like house system, student’s council but it
is a free movement for faith formation where an explicit proposal is made towards
In our Salesian province of Eastern Africa ( AFE) which comprises of Kenya,
Tanzania and Sudan, the SYM forum is held once in two years. The preparations for
the SYM Forum which was held in Bosco Boys in December 2013 began in the middle
of the year. The first meeting was held at Laura Vicuna community Makuyu. In this
meeting, grounds were laid and the team members organized themselves into four
main commissions. These commissions were: General coordination commission,
Food, accommodation and transport Commission, Liturgy and commission, Finance
commission. Each commission had a specific role to play prior to the forum and within
the forum. There were 9 Salesians (Priests: Fr. Benn, Fr. Vincent, Fr. Richard, Fr.
Lawrence, Fr. Njoroge and Fr. Nyaga, Deacons: Dn Robertson, Deacon Fred and Dn
Muli Leonard) 11 Salesian Sisters, (Sr. Placida, Sr. Caroline, Sr. Letizia, Sr. Marta, Sr.
Mary, Sr. Laurenzia, Sr. Veronica, Sr. Irene, Sr.Jacqueline, Sr. Sarah and Sr. Juliet).
We had two representatives from Bosco Boys Kuwinda who worked very hard: Kevin
Juma, and Kevin Otieno Juma. The main Coordinators were Fr. Benn and Sr. Placida.
When Sr. Placida moved to the new FMA mission at Karare, Sr. Laurenzia took up
this responsibility and worked closely with Fr. Benn in the overall coordination of
commission. Every commission had to work very hard and every time we gathered
for meeting, reports were given and incase a need arose, support was given to the
concerned commission.
The main theme of the forum was “Lord Increase our Faith “taken from the gospel
of Luke as a way of helping the young people experience deeply their relationship with
God in the midst of this changing world. It was also a way of creatively concluding
the year of faith in step with the mother church. Formation material on the theme
were distributed to all the centers as a way of preparing the young for this week long
encounter. In addition to the formation sessions, the young were to prepare a cultural
presentation and an item based on the theme of the day. Each day of the forum had
a specific theme which guided all moments of encounter and sharing. Speakers lay
and religious were invited to give the input. Eucharistic celebration was given priority
and each group was given a chance to animate in creative ways. Prayer moments were
given more emphasis and quiet times were treasured throughout the forum.
There were 19 groups represented in the Salesian Youth Movement 2013 forum
totaling to about 420.( Kakuma, Korr, Embu SDB, Embu FMA, Makuyu SDB,
Makuyu Laura Vicuna, Makuyu Mazzarello, Upper hill, Nzaikoni, Bosco Boys, Boys
Town, DBYES, Don Bosco Utume, Don Bosco Upanga Tanzania, Dagoretti FMA,
Mutuini FMA, Siakago FMA, Hurlingham FMA, and VIDES Volunteers. Adding the
animators and those who accompanied the youth, the number was 500 plus. There
were also aspirants, Postulants, Pre Novices, professed Sisters and Salesians.The
collaboration between these groups, animators and the organizers was paramount
and that facilitated the success of the forum.
Great support was received from the communities through food contribution,
sending the buses to be used during the forum, facilitating talks, accommodation
and offering grounds for the forum activities. For all this the organizing team is so
grateful to all and especially to the communities of Bosco Boys Kuwinda/Langata,
DBYES and Boys Town where accommodation was offered throughout. Don Bosco
Utume and DBYES offered us hospitality for two days when the young people had
sports and a day of reconciliation. Within the forum; the benefactors who managed
to come were thanked. Others were reached by phone and appreciation cards. Before
the forum concluded, the young were given a chance to express themselves in an
evaluation which will be looked into by the organizers for the way forward.
Rev. Fr. Benn Agunga SDB and Sr. Laurenzia Ndwigah FMA
Stepping by Faith.
The SYM forum was a different
experience all together. The presence of
many young people gathered together
as a community of ‘witnesses of faith’
aroused in me endless sparks of joy. I
learnt a lot to do with our Christian faith
and more so as a youth. It is when faith
permeates every aspect of our lives that
we truly live Christ-like life.
As the hope of today, young people
should not be seasonal Christians
but proactive in proclaiming and
witnessing Christ to the world.
Knowledge about our Christian faith is
paramount. Faith is a precious gift we
receive from God and through baptism
we get the key to the gateway to life in
the spirit having been freed from the
original sin.
As young people, we should always
partake of the Eucharist, for in doing
so, we experience the real life of Christ.
We receive Christ who becomes part
of our human body. In my life as a
VIDES Kenya volunteer, I experienced
a rather different encounter with the
young people. While the majority of
them yearned for spiritual formation
in line with the theme, “Lord increase
our faith”, a few were easily taken adrift
and isolated in utopia. It seemed that
to some people, following Jesus as our
good example is just another Christian
‘phrase’. I realized it is important to bear
the right knowledge so that we can live
and share generously and meaningfully
to others.
The forum could not have been
meaningful without the day of
Reconciliation. It was my joy and
the joy of many to bring us together,
uniting us as a community healed and
renewed in his immense love. Having
been commissioned during the final
Mass, I can simply say that the forum
was a meeting to journey together
as members of the Salesian Youth
Movement, stepping and walking in
faith proclaiming the
real Christ who lives in
our hearts. With great
joy and optimism
we did sing, shine
and shared love with
others. VIVA! VIVA!
Bernard Ngigi
VIDES Kenya Volunteers’ Leader
SYM: A Hub of Holy Vocations
I look back at the proceedings of
the 2013 SYM Forum with joy, hope
and admiration. The hardworking
coordinators and organizers, the
enthusiastic youth participants, the
impressive and impactful program,
the well prepared facilitators with soul
searching presentations, the reflective
prayer moments were among many
other factors that kept time rolling into
a 7 day charming forum with the young,
among the young and for the young at
Bosco Boys Kuwinda.
I went into this forum as an animator
with the view of being an educative
presence, yet this experience proved to
me that the young themselves educated
me into a deep reality of the dynamic
issues surrounding their spiritual,
psychosocial, physical, economic and
other aspects of their life. This came up
easily especially during the moments of
group prayers, discussions and sharing,
personal encounters but more inevitably
during the informal interactions. In all
this, I am proud to say that though the
contemporary society is proposing an
anti religious mentality, there are still
many young people who are strong in
faith and are convinced about Christ
despite the various setbacks that come
their way.
Core to my participation, was an
opportunity to share my vocation story
with the participants of this forum.
Before this sharing I was wondering
how relevant I would be to this digital
generation that seems rather more
interested and immersed in technology
and other new forms of modern
enticements such as materialism,
consumerism, social media among
others and would probably consider
religious vocation as an otherwise
analogue thinking. I was greatly
mistaken………. To my big surprise, what
came after were unending requests for
personal chats and talks regarding youth
challenges and vocation. From this,
I discovered that many young people
are enthusiastic about following Christ
more closely as religious and priests.
During these sharing’s, discussions
and interactions, I could make out that
though expressed variably, the prime
reason why some of these young people
felt attracted to this way of life is that
it is all about sharing: giving freely
what they’ve freely received. Also, what
strongly manifested itself is that the life
witness of the FMA’s and SDB’s in their
respective centers is a catalyst towards
vocation promotion. Kudos Rev. FMA’s
and SDB’s: may our life always give
glory to God, save souls and more so
attract many others to the vineyard
of the Lord. SYM is really a hub for
Salesian vocations and other vocations
in the Church. Long live SYM!!! Viva
Viva SYM!!!
In a flash, this weeklong joyful
celebration of our faith with the young
expressed our deep seated heart’s
desire to rest always in the presence of
the Lord. The biggest challenge now is
to transform into concrete commitment
our experience of the SYM.
I am grateful to all the young people
present in this forum for making this
event a spirit filled encounter!!!! Special
thanks to our theme song writers,
Sr. Carol Kalondu and Fr. Vincent
Mokaya: Your thematic contribution
kept the faith rocking!!!! A big congrats
to our main coordinators, Fr. Benn
and Sr. Laurenzia: Thumbs up, well
done!!!!! To all
other FMA’s and
SDB’s, novices, pre-
novices, postulants
and aspirants:
May God reward
you abundantly
for your tireless
Note worthy appreciation to
Fr. Minja and the Bosco Boys
Sr. Patricia Oyuga – FMA Novice

Via della Pisana 1111 - 00163 Roma
“L ord , increase our faith !”
My dear friends, members of the
Salesian Youth Movement of the Eastern
African Province,
Loving greetings and best wishes for a
joyful and fruitful Forum. Do not forget
that the Lord is calling to you to become
his collaborators to be incarnated in this
world. He wants you all to be believers,
as Mary.
The theme at the centre of your
meeting is all about our relationship
with God – a loving relationship with a
loving God!
I would like to share with you three
simple thoughts that might be of help
to you in these days, but also after this
When we ask our Lord to increase our
faith, first of all we have to ask ourselves
how was this challenge lived out by those
whose life has been captured by God’s
beauty. And what we find is very simple:
at a certain point in their journey there
is a discovery that faith is about entering
into a friendly relationship which is
enlightened by love and trust. Love and
trust that God showers on those who
accept to follow Him. All we have to do
is to contemplate and let ourselves be
overwhelmed by this gift, freely offered
to each and everyone of us.
Secondly, what God asks from you
and from me is something very simple,
yet full of dignity: once you accept the
call, rise to the occasion, that is, be an
active believer. Jesus does not ask us to
follow him simply to remain laid back,
passive and inactive. On the contrary!
Once he calls us, He wants us to share
His joy, His love, His beauty. Believing
is about life, and life to the full. There is
no dull moment for those whose hearts
have been touched by Jesus. We see it
in Don Bosco, in Dominic Savio and in
the life of all those whom we know have
accepted to say ‘yes’ to Jesus.
Thirdly, once we accept that Jesus
increases our faith, we have to
acknowledge that faith is not a property
Message to the Salesian Youth
Movement of AFE from the Rector Major
engaged as a member of a living subject
and part of a network of communitarian
relationships… The awakening of
faith is linked to the dawning of a new
sacramental sense in our lives as human
beings and as Christians, in which
visible and material realities are seen to
point beyond themselves to the mystery
of the eternal” (Lumen Fidei no. 40).
In the name of Don Bosco, our Father
and Teacher, I encourage you not to be
May God bless you ALL and have a
love- and joy-filled Blessed Christmas!
Rome, 18 th December 2013
Fr. Pascual Chávez V, sdb
Rector Major

that is given to us, is not a gift that we
hide in a safe place. Faith is not an
experience of fear. Faith is a journey
of love, received and offered. Faith
is enriched by hope that opens up
for us horizons as yet unknown and
unexplored. Faith renders life a gift for
oneself and for others.
In his letter Lumen Fidei, Pope
Francis invites us to deepen this faith
through the strength of the sacraments.
Recalling the importance Don Bosco
gave to the sacraments, Pope Francis
writes: “the sacraments communicate
an incarnate memory, linked to the
times and places of our lives, linked to all
our senses; in them the whole person is
afraid. In the first Oratory experience
Don Bosco passed on his faith by
creating a family environment where
faith was handed on in a joyful way. The
contact with faith-filled persons was
like passing the light from one person
to another, just as one candle is lighted
from another. Despite our limitations
and poverty, let us always be convinced
that as we accept the rich seed of faith,
caring for its growth, time will come
when the seed becomes a great tree,
capable of filling the hearts of so many
young people with its fruit.
That heart is yours. The seed of faith
is Jesus calling you. With joy and
optimism let us follow Him!
We increase our faith by meeting
Jesus Christ.
There are so many ways to meet Jesus
as the book of Luke 22:17-20 tells us that
we meet Jesus by receiving his body and
blood in the Holy Eucharist.
Remember that when we go to receive
the Holy Eucharist we are going to
receive Jesus himself, so we have to
prepare ourselves in so many ways
otherwise we’ll not be receiving Jesus
but our own condemnation.
And for those who read the word of
Lord, they must be prepared or prepare
themselves for a good long time, for
when they are pronouncing the word;
it is Jesus himself who speaks to us
through them.
To meet the King of kings is a special
moment whereby we have to be
dressed in a respective dress code and
behave well through
following whatever is
required be it praying,
singing, standing up,
Dear brothers and
sisters it is by this
way that the Lord will
increase our faith
Faraja Kaluta
Don Bosco Kakuma
Holy Cross Parish
Dear Christians, my experience in the
forum of SYM has enlightened my heart
with joy and happiness, especially in the
sharing of prayers in groups and personal
reflection in the word of the Lord.
It gave one the deepest desire to believe in
Christ and commit myself to the spreading of
the Good news of Christ in every moment of
my time. Sharing of experiences also enriches
our faith as young people.
In the SYM meeting I have learnt that
Christ never want us to be alone He calls
all sorts of people to be disciple despite the
colour or occupations. From the story of
Nelson Mandela of South Africa I learned
that all we need to be with Christ is love,
peace, reconciliation and justice. Christ
never want us to be alone.
I personally learnt that with confidence I
will not hesitate in spreading the Gospel to
my people. I am not ashamed of witnessing
Him in the morning, in the noontime and
at all time. I carry Christ to my work, in
my sleep and in my break (meals). He is
a healing tablet to my soul the dose of my
sickness. Therefore, we must believe and
All our richness is God’s gifts and
blessings nothing comes alone and
leadership is from
above for he knew us
before we are born.
Therefore let us not
worry but have the
Lord as our redeemer.
Finally Lord increase
our faith.
Andrew Sabit Abdalla &
Isaac Uyira Ubur
My Encounter
with Christ in SYM
“Lord Increase our
What I am going to share with you is based on the current situation of the world,
Africa and in particular the countries of South Sudan, Sudan, DRC, CAR, and many
others where hatred has conquered the people.
It was quite amazing, as I was sitting in front of a burning bulb outside of a building
to see how that mysterious light was gathering and attracting different kinds of
insects in thousands. Moreover, as the insects were over-crowding, some of them
died, others shook of their wings, and some remained with the light till morning.
This made me think and I reflected on it what it could mean to you and I.
What is the lesson that can be drawn from this? The light is you and I who are
young, Insects are different people you and I meet, those who died are the ones who
find the youth whose light is not giving good examples and support, those that shook
off their wings are the people who come with notions of divisions but find the youth
who is light active and against division they came with, which help them to eliminate
their differences of tribes, races, colour, and nations, and those that remained with
the light one those who accepted one another regardless of differences.
It is true dear friends of Don Bosco (youth) to say that the aspect of keeping burning
is lost in us especially like the situation in my mother country South Sudan where the
youth find themselves victims of Tribalism and in surrounding countries where the
religion becomes a challenge.
However, this should not be the case with us who are young in any situation. We
find ourselves, be it in schools, churches, homes, and oratories which our father Don
Bosco said to be the places where all are welcomed and make friends irrespective of
race, colour, religion, and tribe.
A Dinka proverb says, “Aparak puol e ya Kueth raan eben,” which means, “A young
person is a satisfaction for all people.” My dear young people we are not of our tribes or
religion but for all nations. Keep your light burning and attractive for all people who are
still in darkness of evil.
Macharanga Abraham Kuol Chol
Young people be a light that
gathers different kinds of insects
“Don Bosco Between’’
The presence of Don Bosco novitiate
in Morogoro between the ridges of
Mini Kilimanjaro and Ulugulu hills
has reconciled these two great pillars
which were ‘sleeping lions’ within these
5 years of the presence of Salesians in
this magnificent, canonically erected
Novitiate house in Kihonda. The
environment which was sparsely
populated with countable homes
has slowly and gradually become an
attractive village.
The road to the Novitiate house has
now become the main path for so many
young and old people within the vicinity
of Ulugulu and Mini Kilimanjaro hills
they are now true sons and daughters
of Don Bosco and are now looking for
the future with a lot of hope; they are
ready to sharpen and shape their future.
Some of these boys are orphans and
some come from broken families and
are forced to enter into child labour
due to impecunious family background
before they came into contacts with the
Salesians. They now can say “Don Bosco
Nyumbani Kwetu”. A good number of
them have been given a chance in either
technical institutions or secondary
schools and they have proved that they
are academically fit. They are now ready
to face life. They now say Don Bosco
is a true ceramic who is unbreakable,
unshakeable and ‘unbwogable’. He has
made known to us the promising future.
What this generous attitude of the
Novitiate community has done to
these future leaders of our great nation
Tanzania keeps on reminding me of an
article in our constitution which our
Novice Master Fr. Michael insisted
on when we were tackling the vow of
Poverty; The article 79: Solidarity with
the poor.......the spirit of poverty leads
us to be one with the poor and to love
them in Christ. For this reason, we
make every effort to stay close to them,
to alleviate their needs, making our own
their lawful aspirations for more and
just human society.
In seeking and accepting help for the
service of the needy, we imitate Don
Bosco in his zeal and gratitude and like
him we retain the freedom of the Gospel.
Jesus tells us, “that whatever we have
belong to the poor..........”They are really
at home in our community and they
feel loved and are given a listening ear,
this has enabled them to grow morally
We the Novices are given a chance
every Sunday to meet young people
in our oratories for apostolate. They
comprise of home and parish oratory.
Our oratories have really attracted
young people Catholics, non-Catholic
and Muslims. Here young people meet
freely regardless of their faith and we
slowly by slowly introduce them to
Christianity for the beginners. One
day, I was astonished to hear from one
Muslim, reciting well Our Father and
Hail Mary. This is encouraging. Another
occasion I asked one
Muslim to tell me who
Don Bosco was. He
immediately said “he
is a saint in heaven
who is waiting for
small children in order
to rejoice with them”.
Immediately tears of
joy filled my eyes. Here
at the parish oratory,
young people are
already attuned to the
Salesian way of life.
They are familiar with
preventive system. It
is clearly evident in
their daily living that
by the frugality of their
lives and involving
themselves in any act
of charity. What is so amusing is that
Don Bosco’s presence in this region is
five years old but the way it is perceived
is as if his presence between these two
great ridges is 30 years old. These two
ridges are now no longer “sleeping
lions” they are now grazing lambs.

Nov. Isaiah Otieno Mwango.
Don Bosco Morogoro.
I happened to discuss with one of our Oratorians here in Morogoro about his vocation
journey or his aspirations in the future. I knew that he was studying in another school
which is run by another congregation. I posed a question to him whether he would join
‘this’ congregation since he has stayed with them for some time. To my surprise he
told me that he want to become a priest in future but he can’t join that congregation.
I was interested to know why he expressed such a negative remark. He had many
reasons why he dared not to join and everyone has one reason or the other. On the
other hand I was happy he told me he wants to be a Salesian. When I asked him again
what attracts him to Salesian way, he told me that, Salesians are always available and
good listeners. I was struck by these two qualities he mentioned.
Salesian availability encompasses many things. The assistance which every Salesian
is entitled to give to the young people, listening to them and being attentive to their
material, spiritual and psychological needs to mention just a few. Just as the young
student was sharing with me, the young people are very sensitive towards the manner
in which we conduct our activities, interactions, organizing events etc. These are the
things which encourage or discourage vocations in our Salesian institutions. I thank
the Salesians because they try their best to inculcate these values as much as possible.
We have a relatively good number of students from Salesian schools who join the
Formation in the Salesian Congregation. This is one positive aspect but still we need to
work extra hard to encourage more to join us. The noblest and the best way to do this
is through our own life example and making the young feel that we really love them.
The General Chapter 25 article 48, speaks of a practical way in which small
events take a lot of impulse and thrust in the young people in the field of vocation
promotion, “bearing witness in communities to the vocation of a Salesian priest or
brother in a visible, joyful and attractive manner, sharing with the young some aspect
of our life, celebrations, friendship, meals, prayer, our history, plans and missionary
interests”pg.53. I applaud and admire the wisdom of our ‘fathers’ in the congregation
for this vision. When we all try to apply these two points above in our oratories,
schools and wherever we are present, I am convinced that, when other Congregations
complain and wail that they don’t get vocations, in the Salesian
Congregation we shall continue to bloom and leave behind the
fragrance of good vocations.
It is my prayer and wish that all Salesians will continue to be
devoted towards this task to make our schools and institutions
Larvae of vocations. Bloom where you are planted, (St. Francis de
Novice John Mbogo.
Salesian Schools,
Larvae for Vocations.
A Gate of Hope in Gisenyi, Rwanda
When Patience Nyirahabufite joined the VTC of
the Salesian Sisters in Gisenyi, Rwanda, she never
dreamt of what the Lord had in store for her in the
future. In 2010 she joined the first group of students in
St. Mary Mazzarello Technical Secondary Technical
School which specializes in Hotel Operations and
completed her studies in 2012.
When the National Exam results came out, she
was Number One in the whole country in the field
of Hotel Operations. She was even recognized by the
first lady, Mrs. Paul Kagame, and received a prize
from her.
However, initially the story did not begin on such a positive note. Patience was an
orphan from a poor, needy family left on her own. She lived close to the Sisters mission
in Gisenyi and was already a young mother of two small children. It was evident that
she was a bright promising, young woman with so much potential, but little hope of
attaining anything worthwhile on her own. Befriending this young woman, the sisters
assisted her in her studies. In her humility and simplicity she was truly grateful for
the human and Christian formation she received in her Salesian education. This was
evident in her availability to help others reach their goals just as she had done.
When she spoke at her graduation tears filled the eyes of those in attendance. In
sharing her experience she told her listeners that she always focused on her vision to
complete her education no matter the cost. Though her brother looked after her two
children, it was a constant preoccupation for her. Realizing how much her children
were in need, the Sisters gave Patience a job teaching in the school for one year.
Accomplishing her work with commitment and enthusiasm, she was able to pay the
school fees for her children.
Where is Patience now? She is at the university in Kigali studying Hotel Operations
on a government sponsorship. After completing her studies, she would like to return
to Gisenyi and teach in the Sisters’ secondary school. God truly opened a “gate of
hope” when Patience stepped on Salesian soil!
Sr. Virginia Bickford
Vatican tweets graffiti image of Superhero Pope Francis
A graffiti image of Pope Francis as superhero - flying through the air with his
white cape billowing behind him which has appeared on a wall in the Borgo Pio
district of Rome near St Peters, has been tweeted by the Vatican.
Speeding forwards with his fist raised, the heroic pontiff – crucifix swinging in
the wind – carries his trademark black bag, with the word ‘values’ written across it,
in Spanish, in white letters.
“We share with you a graffiti found in a Roman street near the Vatican,” the
Pontifical Council for Social Communications from the Holy See said on its official
Twitter page.
Since the tweet, several more images have appeared across Rome.
Pope Francis is a keen Twitter user himself, regularly posting tweets on his own feeds in nine languages,
which boast more than 10 million followers in total.
His message this afternoon reads: ‘I cannot imagine a Christian who does not know how to smile.
May we joyfully witness to our faith.’ Source: Twitter/Pontifex
“Never forget it: you are sons of Don
Bosco”. These were the words Don
Bosco was addressing to his past pupils
when, in his old age, he met them for the
annual gathering.
Then Don Bosco added: “I see that
many of you are already bald, with
white hair and with wrinkled furrowed
forehead. You are not anymore the
young people I loved so much; but I feel
that now I love you much more than I
was used to do at that time, because you
are assuring me that what I taught you
is strongly rooted in your hearts. Then
I love you even more, because you are
showing me that your heart is always
with Don Bosco”.
It is because of this love that a group of
past pupils of Don Bosco, mainly living
in Nairobi, Ruiru and Thika etc. decided
to gather together and call themselves
“Friends of Don Bosco”.
Are we many? Well, in our regular
meetings not so many, but already a
good number of us have gathered and
now we are in contact among ourselves.
We have started knowing more people,
meeting old companions and refreshing
great memories and teachings we have
received while in Don Bosco Schools.
We meet every last Sunday of the
month in Don Bosco Upper Hill,
in Nairobi. At 11 am we have our
Eucharistic Celebration, followed by
shared packed lunch, a short talk and a
common exchange of experiences.
We commit to pray for each other,
every time, selecting a special person to
whom we want to direct our prayer for
the entire month.
Those who have children are coming
with them and the joy of being together
becomes even bigger.
Every time we have to make a bit of
sacrifice in moving ourselves from our
usual places and activities, but when we
leave Upper Hill, our heart is full of joy.
In our sharing we come to know
that somebody got married, others
have children, others are sick and
some are trying to find a job. All of us
have to struggle in some ways, but we
feel stronger and encouraged by the
presence of our “Friends”.
In this way we are able to understand
better our own problems and we can
try to help those who are in difficulties,
mainly because of job.
Every time we learn something more
about Don Bosco: something that will
help us in our daily life, in our families,
for our future.
Thinking about the love Don Bosco
could express to young people and to
us too, in spite of the fact that he was a
poor peasant, convinces us that we can
help each other and overcome together
the difficulties we meet every day.
We too can become like Don Bosco
and be in the society a valid presence
by being “Good Christians and honest
citizens” as he was used to recommend
his young people.
You too can be a “Friend of Don
Bosco”: it is enough to love Him and to
be enthusiastic about his work among
the young people of today. If you want,
a chair is always free for you in our
meetings. Come. You will not regret and
for sure you will come again and again.
If you want to know more, contact:
Pauline Wamuyu, P.O. Box 14171 –
00100 Nairobi
Tel. 0722589668
David Muoki Kivati, P.O. Box 18001-
Industrial Area – Nairobi
Tel. 0726817880
Email :
Fr. Felice Molino, P.O. Box 44854 –
00100 G.P.O. Nairobi
Tel. 0722149298
Friends of Don Bosco
How an Orphan Became
a Great Father
Don Bosco, 58 years old, receives the order from Pope Pius IX to write his own
memories. He will write them addressed to his Salesians, with the prohibition to
publish them: it must be for the family (the Salesians Congregation) too. 75 years
later the Salesian will decide to publish them and the “Memories of the Oratory” will
come to the knowledge of millions of people all over the world.
I freely write here what I read from the memories.
“I was born on the Feast of Mary: the Assumption. It was the year 1815. I saw the
light in Murialdo, a small village in the town of Castelnuovo.
My father was Francis, and my mother Margaret. In that house we were 6: my parents,
three children and my grandmother who, old and sickly, was living with us too.
I was not yet two years old when my father, a young and strong farmer, was assailed
by a terrible fever. Nothing to do. In few days he left this world. He died on May 12,
1817, at 34.
That was the first remembrance of my life: everybody was leaving the room where
my father was lying in his bed of death. I was there too, but I did not want to leave.
My mother asked me to go with her. If my father does not come, I will not come
either. Poor son, you do not have a father anymore.
My mother started crying, took me by hand and we left the room. I was crying too,
since the others were crying. I could not understand the terrible disgrace I was going
through. I had become an orphan.”
58 year of age, Don Bosco will remember that very moment while he was not yet
two years old. The death of the father was such a shock that he could not forget it,
though he was only a very small child. Such a disgrace could have become a cause of
great depression for all his life long.
But John, instead of bending over his own
wound and crying over it, decided to take it
- I am a poor orphan who decides to become
the father of so many poor orphans.
Again and again in his life Don Bosco will be
able to transform negative experiences into
positive ones for the good of his young people.
The love he could not enjoy on the lap of his
father, he will decide to give to thousands,
millions of young people.
Are you deprived of the love you were
expecting? Are you longing for the caress,
compassion and understanding of someone?
Why not decide to become the father/mother of those who precisely need your love?
Think over it. Don Bosco could express his love today through you and through you
become father and mother again and again.
“I was always in need of everybody”.
These are words of Don Bosco.
He was open to everybody who could
give him a hand for the salvation of soul
and body of his young people. “The more
we are, the more good we will do to the
young”, Don Bosco used to say and this
was his conviction.
At the very beginning of his work
among the poor boys of the outskirt
of the town of Turin, in the north of
Italy, Don Bosco was practically alone
and, thanks to his pastoral zeal, in a
short time the young people, who were
searching for him, became hundreds.
They were in need of material
help, but even of love, affection and
education. The majority had never
been to school. They were at the mercy
of their employers who would take
advantage of their young age: many of
them were starting to work as mason
helpers, carpenters, chimney-sweepers,
blacksmiths, as young as 6 years of age.
Many were not able to count the
money they were getting for their work,
less then less ask for their right to be
The majority had never entered a
Many of them, going to Turin in
search of a job, had lost contact with
their Parish, did not go to catechism and
were not frequenting Sacraments.
Don Bosco accepted and solicited
immediately the help of many good
people: they were priests, lawyers and
members of parliament as well as simple
young people and good mothers.
His mother, Mama Margaret, together
with other women was the cooperator
per excellence.
She dedicated the last ten years of her
life totally to the young people of Don
Bosco and among those boys she died,
remembered and loved as a real mother
to each one of them.
When Don Bosco thought about a
Congregation, he thought about a group
of people, religious and married who,
together, would work for the goodness
of the young people entrusted to them by
Providence. Unfortunately Rome did not
allow him to do what would be possible
much later, after Vatican II. Even in this
Don Bosco was ahead of his time.
A Salesian Cooperator… Why not? 1 ST QUARTER 28
Eventually he succeeded to have
the Pius Association of the Salesian
Cooperators approved in 1876. From
then on the Cooperators increased in
numbers and have been the long hand
of the Salesians doing in the world what
frequently the religious people, priest
and sisters, cannot do.
Today the Cooperators are more than
30,000 all over the world.
Don Bosco needs them to enter in
to the field of education taking care of
millions of young people.
For Don Bosco the Cooperator is a good
Christian who is living his Christian life
with the zeal of Don Bosco himself, in
the place he is.
In Upper Hill the cooperators are 30
in number. Many of them are working
directly with the children and young
people in the Parish with the Sunday
School, Catechism classes animation
of the daily liturgies, visit to our
institutions in need, especially the one
sheltering street children, helping sick
people in the hospitals, etc.
All of them know well that their good
example, wherever they are is a way of
extending that good that Don Bosco
wanted to do to the society.
Every Cooperator must be a Catholic, able
to receive all the Sacraments of the Church.
She/he is committed to conduct an
exemplary Christian life with the desire
to announce Jesus to everybody and in
a special way to the “poor abandoned
Don Bosco was seeing in the
Cooperators those who would promote
a greater pastoral work through the
means of communication. At that time
the best were good books. Today the
means of communication are so many
and so sophisticated. The Cooperators
are able to make use of them to promote
the education of the youth and their
spiritual goodness.
In Upper Hill we have Cooperators
who are professionals, others who are
studying and some are retired. Every
baptized person who is intending to live
his Christian life in a serious/joyful way
can be a Salesians Cooperator, provided
she/he is called by God, through Mary
and Don Bosco.
Do you feel such a call?
Don’t you think that much good could
be done to the young people through
your commitment?
We meet in the Don Bosco Parish
in the Shrine every first Sunday of the
month, at 9 am.
Why not contact us? You will not
Don Bosco said that at his death his
work among the young people would
not suffer, because there would be the
constant protection of Mary and the
support of the Salesian Cooperators.
Working in almost 100 countries
of the World, the Cooperators are
participating in the great work of the
Salesian Family and become a hope for
millions of young people.
As Don Bosco we repeat: “We are
always in need of everybody”, we need
you, your experience, your good example
and your “cooperation” to increase the
good work of Don Bosco.
Welcome. A seat is ready for you in
our monthly meeting, and a seat is
ready for you in that special corner of
paradise, where we will meet with Don
Bosco and all his young people, in joy.
Cooperators in the World: 30,000
Centres of Cooperators in Kenya:
Siakago, Embu, Makuyu, Nzaikoni,
Upper Hill, Dagoretti.
Responsible for East Africa: Mrs.
Rosanna Kathangu -
- Tel. 0722607666
Responsible for Upper Hill: Ms. Anna
Clara -
-Tel. 0721728724
Delegate for Cooperators: Fr. Felice
Molino. –
– Tel. 0722149298
Peace-march by the Catholic
Church in Juba on the anniversary
of the Referendum
As the fighting and killing continued in South Sudan between the forces of the
President Salva Kiir and his former Deputy Riek Machar and thousands of helpless
people ran away to Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia seeking refuge and thousands
became IDPS (Internally Displace People) those left behind sought refuge in their
faith and called on the Lord of peace to come in and reign in their midst.
On 9th January, the day on which the people of South Sudan said ‘Yes’
to an independent country with one voice, the faithful of the different
parishes in the Archdiocese of Juba gathered with banners and posters in
one of the sub-centres of the Cathedral parish, namely, the Assumption
centre, about three kilometers from St. Theresa Cathedral, praying and
singing peace, love and reconciliation asking God for the gift of true peace and security
in South Sudan.
The peace-march had three STATIONS – FORGIVENESS, UNITY and LOVE. The
Archbishop, Rt. Rev. Paolino Lukudu Loro at the start of the march delivered a very
touching and inspiring talk during which he and many in the crowd wept. He read
the episode from the book of Genesis about Cain killing his brother Abel. God asked
Cain: “Where is your brother?”
The Archbishop with tears in his eyes asked the people gathered for the
march, “Where is your brother? Where is your sister?” “Where is your brother
and sister who before 15th December were coming to the different churches to
pray, some of whom many of us know, with whom we talked and shared ideas?
Where are they now?” Certainly tears rolled down the cheeks of many of the
Christians as the Archbishop asked these questions. All of us were aware that
many of them are no more as they became the victims of the revengeful killings
of the past days. And there are thousands living in camps in the South Sudan or
elsewhere who would have wished to join us in prayer today but are unable to move
out of their camps due to fear and trauma. The Archbishop said that each one of us
is the cause of this sad situation, directly or indirectly. Our sinfulness and selfishness
have brought us to this dangerous and sad plight.
The faithful prayed the special PRAYER FOR PEACE IN SOUTH SUDAN, prepared
specially for this occasion and marched towards the Cathedral singing and praying.
The CROSS led the way as if to tell the people that the LOVE of Jesus on the Cross was
inviting all the people towards forgiveness and unity.
When the procession reached the Cathedral compound, the Blessed Sacrament
was brought solemnly to the middle of the compound as if to say that JESUS in the
Blessed Sacrament was welcoming all to the Cathedral. The faithful were invited
to empty their hearts of all that was evil and fill them instead with the LOVE and
FORGIVENESS that JESUS gave. After the blessing, the CROSS and the BLESSED
SACRAMENT led the faithful to the Cathedral church.
In the Cathedral there took place the solemn celebration of the Eucharist. During
the prayer of the faithful, there were ten participants who came forward and prayed
for the TEN STATES in South Sudan. After this prayer, while those who prayed held
the one NATIONAL FLAG that was erected by the side of the altar, all the faithful
joyously and zealously PRAYED (sang) the NATIONAL ANTHEM.
It was a wonderful celebration that brought forgiveness and peace to the hearts and
lives of thousands present at the function.
May the voices of all in the South Sudan and others elsewhere rise up to God that
He may expedite the gift of PEACE and SECURITY to this beloved young country –
Fr. Jacob Thelekkadan sdb
Mission: A Journey, not a Destination
On August 28th, 2013, we left our
familiar lifestyles in America to embark
on a new adventure as post-graduate
missionaries in Maridi, South Sudan.
After finishing university last year, Ariel,
a psychology and social work double
major, and I, Theresa, a registered
nurse, felt called to dedicate the next
year of our lives to doing God’s will and
serving His people.
We have been making South Sudan
our home for five months now. As
soon as we took our first steps onto the
dusty, African soil, we felt right at home.
Immediately, kids swarmed around us
with their big brown eyes and bright
smiles painted boldly on their faces. We
knew at that moment that we were now
part of a new family-the Salesian family,
complete with over 500 sweet kids. We
soon found ourselves in a routine that
became our new “normal.” Our days are
filled with teaching in the primary school
and bandaging wounds and giving
out medications in the hospital. These
works are essential to the development
and wellbeing of the children and
community, but the impact is not found
in the progress of their English or the
treatment of their illnesses. The impact
of this experience so far is found in our
daily interactions with the children. The
relationships that are fostered with the
kids show them something intangible
but more powerful than anything else:
love. In simple gestures like made up
handshakes, dancing and singing, hair
braiding, and football matches, we
love them. We show them that they
are precious not only to us, but most
importantly to God. Every evening as
the sun sets, we sit and pray the rosary
with children brimming with faith who
five short months ago were strangers
to us. But now they are our family, they
are our kids. We have tried our best to
open our lives to these children, and
they continuously flood our hearts with
unconditional love.
As we approach the halfway point in
our year of mission, we find ourselves
in a different country, starting all over
again while our lives and work in South
Sudan is put on hold. We have been
temporarily relocated to a Salesian
community (Don Bosco YES) in Nairobi
because of the current safety concerns
in South Sudan. Even though we are
physically in a different place, our
hearts and minds are still very much in
Maridi. Thoughts about the children,
the Salesian community, and memories
from our time there constantly push
their way into the front of our minds. Our
prayers are always for their safety and
wellbeing as the country battles itself
and its future remains unknown. As we
struggle with a sense of helplessness and
anxiety being away from our new found
home, we rely more and more on each
other and God for support. Although
being away from our community has
been a challenge, we are learning to
place our worries and anxieties in God’s
hands and trust fully in His timing and
His plan.
Although five months ago we had no
idea that during this year of mission
we would be temporarily relocated to
a different mission site, we are finding
comfort in the constant presence
of Christ seen through the people
surrounding us. We see Him in the
welcoming community in Nairobi, in
our friends and families at home who
are praying for us and the people in
South Sudan, and in our kids in Maridi
who call us to tell us how much they miss
and love us. Even though the future is
uncertain, one thing remains constant:
Christ’s love and presence which alone
sustains us.
Theresa kiblinger & Ariel Zarate
Bosco Boys Summer Camp 2013/2014
“Way to holiness” this was the theme of the Bosco Boys’ 2013/2014 summer camp.
Holiness is the way of doing what is right and willing to forgive those who have
wronged you. Just like Don Bosco told the young boys that holiness is “doing ordinary
things in an extraordinary way” this is what the coordinators and animators tried to
teach the young children during the camp. It is very difficult for us to be completely
perfect in whatever we do but if we believe that God is there with us we can truly grow
in holiness. Holiness can be achieved when we minimize the unholy things we do and
maximize the space for the holy things.
Being born poor does not mean it’s the end of everything. You may be poor
financially but you are rich in faith. This is what I learnt after mingling with the Bosco
Boys’ children during the camp. (I was assigned with the task of producing a video by
BEAMS on the camp) Bosco boys is a project for children in need run by the Salesians
of Don Bosco. Every year-end in December holiday, the school management organizes
a camp for these poor children to give them an opportunity to usher in the New Year
in style and grow richer in faith. Being able to associate I learned a lot from them. I
was inspired by the knowledge of faith these young children have.
According to the Bosco Boys project coordinator Fr. Luis Neville the camp was
organized in order to bring these children together and help them live in unity
different from the way they are used to. According to him they chose the theme “way
to holiness” in order to teach these children that life does not only evolve around
worldly pleasures and material things but also it is about God. Therefore the theme
was to teach them to try to become divine. They started each day with the celebration
of the Eucharist as one way to bring these children closer to God and learn how to
appreciate God for his care and protection.
The children challenged me especially on the day of quiz. They know the Bible so
well and very few gave incorrect answers. Not only were they were asked biblical
The Best New Year Gift
questions but also general knowledge that would help them in their school syllabus.
I could see the great passion in these children when answering the questions from
the bible and also of those of the saints especially of their role model St. Don Bosco.
I had a chance to talk with these children and asked them to share with me
their experience of the camp. They would say “Hii camp inabamba na ningependa
iongezwe muda kiasi” (This camp is so lively and I would like it to be longer.) They
said they learnt to forgive and would love to be addressed as “Your Holiness.” They
enjoyed the activities that they carried out. They learnt and competed in the making
of the crib. They had a chance to showcase their talents through dancing and acting.
Having adoration gave them a chance to have moment of silence to talk to God. A
way of moving interiorly and looking into their lives to know whether they are living
according to the theme of the camp.
According to Bosco Boys’ Rector Fr. Joseph Minja, the camp was organized as a
way to give the children the opportunity to start the New Year well and remove all the
distractions they had at home during the holidays. He said he enjoyed mingling and
playing with these children since he was able to learn a lot from them which he never
did when he was young like them. This camp helped the youngsters to mingle with the
elders without fear and all saw themselves as equal no matter the age. It was a good
opportunity for behavior and character formation, a way to learn how to socialize and
live together. According to their Head Teacher Mr. Lawrence Maingi, it was a chance
to teach them to have a positive outlook in life keeping in mind that most of these
children have spent their lives in the streets or come
from very poor families and slums.
I believe that just like I was inspired during this
camp and learnt how to live holy, these children too
learnt and through them we will have a better society.
They will truly be good leaders of today, tomorrow and
pass it on to the next generations.
Bravo to the organizers who planned the program
so well and had included various activities that helped
these young children get closer to God.
Beatrice Muya
One Day I will tell
My Story.
A story of survival
A story of undying will to survive
when all hope is lost and God seems a
planet away; the words of my story are
words I never pronounce without pain
and without respect, for the mystery of
life is still a profound secret that I still
find hard to understand.
I am born in a family of seven children,
comprised of one girl and six boys,
unfortunately due to the harsh realities
of life in the slums one of my brother
never made it to his first birthday,
another one succumbed to a horrific
fire that almost burnt down the whole
slum, while the third one whom I really
loved dearly got overwhelmed by crime
and drugs so he took a rope and hanged
life behind him; it’s a grotesque picture
still freshly painted in my mind of his
lifeless body hanging in the air. We are
now left three brothers and one sister
plus our sickly single mother.
Honestly if I had a chance to choose
life, I’d chose to be born as a prince
in a castle because I wonder to myself
everyday why nature condemned my
family and I into abject poverty in the
slums of Kawangware one of the two
hundred slums in Nairobi.
In fact I detest remembering my
childhood because surviving in the
slums each day was a miracle, I
remember the many angry fights in
our single ramshackle room that used
to serve all purposes including being a
brothel at night and a chang’aa (strong
illegal jet fuel like spirit liquor) joint
during the day. This strong portion
made men blind and many never make
it to see another day. In the slums it
does not matter when your time comes,
others move on as if you never existed.
Since my tender age I have always had
a strong desire and burning passion to
live a better life and get an education,
but then I lived as a destitute with my
calm nature I served as the best peddler
for bhang and God knows what else.
As I grew up I could no longer bear
the slum life, the constant and regular
battering from my ever drunk mother.
I was living a life of horror and fear and
these circumstances eventually forced me
to flee from the slums and join my friends
in the streets. It is at this point that the
harsh reality of life hit me hard. Life as a
street boy is like in the jungle. Survival is
for the fittest and so being in a gang is the
cardinal rule for security and hustling for
food and a base to rest at night.
Luckily garbage and dumpsites never
failed to supply something for the
stomach whether stale or rotting life
had to go on. Out there you’re a public
enemy of the people everybody looks
at you like you have horns and you’re
the devil himself, you can always tell
the hatred and disgust written in their
hearts through their eyes. That’s when
you remember you’re a street boy and
wish the earth could swallow you full.
This is a terrible life, this fear excused
our lack of hospitality and explains our
beast like behaviors, terror mixed with
confusion, fear turns to passion for lust,
money and drugs, fright change into
fury, as prudence does into rage. There
is outburst of supreme terror whence
springs of wrath change into street
fights the many and deadly ones that I
experienced, and nobody cares whether
life has meaning in the streets.
I got lucky one day when I came by
the Precious Blood Sisters in Riruta
Kawangware who used to offer free
lunch (githeri: a combination of maze
and beans) to street boys and families.
For such an offer I became a regular
here and it’s at this point that I met
with the late Sr. Damiano (R.I.P) and
Sr. Alice whose motherly love and care
has never failed to show even at the
brink of death. I always get that spark
that keep me going, they taught me to
pray and noticed my desire to learn,
which took me to Bosco Boys Kuwinda
a project by the Salesians of Don
Bosco where I was rehabilitated and
later chosen to join St. Mary’s Primary
school at Karen; I grabbed this begotten
golden opportunity with my hands and
legs to quest and quench my thirst for
knowledge I’d be guilty not to mention
Rev. Fr Babu Augustine SDB the Dir. of
Bosco Boys then, in whose care I found
a dad and a friend; he used to call me
professor and this instilled confidence
in me and added my desire to excel in
my studies.
I finished my Primary School in 2006
and proceeded to Don Bosco Embu
High School, then to Dagoretti High
School where I developed in length and
breath and even took up a leadership
position as the president of the student’s
council. I finished my High School in
2010 and from the bottom of my heart
I will forever remain grateful to the
former Director of Bosco Boys Rev. Fr.
Sebastian Chirayath for giving me the
opportunity to volunteer at home for
one year as a computer teacher and
an assistant for class eight candidates
of 2011. Fr. Sebastian believed in my
talent and ability and by grace of God he
managed to secure for me a scholarship
to the United States International
University where I’m pursuing a
Bachelor’s degree in International
Relations with a major in Foreign Policy
and Diplomacy and a minor in Human
Resource Management.
Were it not for the heights of sacrifice
of the ever generous kind and loving
hearts of the Salesians of Don Bosco,
sponsors, benefactors especially Mr
Bimal Kantaria and friends I would
never have lived to this day, I have come
to learn that the war of life is not won on
paving stones, nor on joists nor on bits
of iron but it is won on two heaps a heap
of love and another heap of love.
I have given the slum and street
life a heroic defeat mended by my
tender compassionate approach that is
discipline and fear of God. It has given
me a dream for living a successful life.
I urge all the young people out there
to go forward and gather a little courage
to face the insurmountable mountains
of problems before them and grab any
opportunities to make their dreams
come true for “Courage is not absence
of fear, courage is going forward with a
face of fear.” Abraham Lincoln.
Peter Ndung’u
Education for Empowerment.
Don Bosco Vocational
Training Centre, Kakuma
Refugee camp.
Kakuma Refugee Camp is located
in Turkana District part of the north
western region of Kenya, 120 kilometres
from Lodwar District Headquarters and
95 kilometres from the Lokichoggio
Kenya-Sudan border. (Indicated by a
black dot on the map.)
Kakuma Refugee Camp serves
refugees who have been forcibly
displaced from their home countries
due to war or persecution. It was
established in 1990 to serve Sudanese
refugees, and has since expanded to
serve refugees from Somalia, Ethiopia,
Burundi, the Democratic Republic of
Congo, Eritrea, Uganda, and Rwanda
and other countries. According to the
UNHCR statistics (December 2013), the
registered camp population is 128,540.
Of this the biggest number falls within
the age bracket of 18-59. As the Crisis
in South Sudan continues a lot of people
from there are flocking to Kakuma, the
camp itself is stretched to its limits. As
on 15 th January 2014 new arrivals from
South Sudan alone was about 8558
persons most of whom are children and
The local Kenyan population is largely
comprised of nomadic pastoralists from
the Turkana community who too are
Kakuma Refugee Camp is
administered by the United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR). The UNHCR is assisted
in its duties by a wide range of
organizations, including World
Food Program (WFP), International
Organization for Migration (IOM),
Lutheran World Federation (LWF),
International Rescue Committee (IRC),
Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS), National
Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK),
Windle Trust Kenya (WTK), Film Aid
International, and Salesians of Don
Bosco in Kenya.
The camp falls under the jurisdiction
of the Kenyan Government and the
Department of Refugee Affairs. Since
the adoption of the Kenya Refugee Act
in 2007, a Camp Manager has been
appointed to oversee camp affairs and
liaison with humanitarian agencies.
The Act paves the way for the Kenyan
Government to eventually assume full
management of Kakuma Refugee Camp.
Life in the semi-arid desert
environment of Kakuma is rather
challenging. The area has always been
full of problems: dust storms, high
temperatures, poisonous spiders,
snakes, and scorpions, outbreaks of
malaria, cholera, and other hardships.
The average daytime temperature is
40 degrees Celsius, or 104 degrees
Due to their legal situation and
local environmental conditions,
refugees are largely unable to support
themselves with income-generating
activities. The semi-arid climate of
Kakuma is ill-suited to agriculture,
while restrictions on employment deter
refugee job-seeking. Those who work
with NGOs receive a small incentive
payment for their work, but incentive
staff represent only a fraction of the
refugee population.
The camp is a “small city” of thatched
roof huts, tents, and mud abodes.
Living inside the camp is equally prison
and exile. Once admitted, refugees do
not have the freedom to move about
the country but are required to obtain
Movement Passes from the UNHCR and
Kenyan Government. Inside this small
city at the edge of the desert, children
are born, they age into adulthood and
hope fades to resignation. In short it’s
more or less a kind of hostage life for
many refugees.
The Salesians of Don Bosco, a Catholic
religious society, began its activities in
the Kakuma Refugee Camp in 1991-
1992. Over the years our work among
the refugees grew and now we have a
full-fledged technical centre with the
trades like carpentry, masonry, welding,
motor vehicle mechanic, plumbing,
electrical, tailoring, dress making,
computer, and secretarial courses. We
also teach English and have a centre for
providing training in Agriculture.
Today Don Bosco Vocational Training
Centre, Kakuma (DBVTC) is the sole
provider of formal technical education
to the Refugees and the host community.
The students undergo one year training
and do the Kenya Government exam
conducted by the Directorate of
Industrial Training, and obtain a
formal Government certificate as well
as Don Bosco and UNHCR Certificates.
These certificates are valued much by
the refugees as they go back to their
countries or when they get repatriated
to Europe, America or Australia.
Don Bosco VTC had 3 technical training
Centers and one agricultural training
centre in 2005 when the camp was full
with over a 100,000 refugees. Thanks
goes to UNHCR, Don Bosco Missions
USA, various funding agencies, well-
wishers and others who have supported
Don Bosco VTC’s contributed much
to the education and empowerment
of refugees at Kakuma. After the
Comprehensive Peace Agreement of
2005 and the consequent reduction in
the camp population due to repatriation
and resettlement, the camp population
came down to 20,000. The funds were
cut and the services were reduced to the
minimum as a result.
There was also the tool kit programme,
which provided tools to the refugees
who successfully completed the training
at Don Bosco VTC and went back to
Sudan. This programme also came to an
end from 2007/2008.
It is not an exaggeration when we say
that in the new Sudan, i.e. South, which
gained independence from the north
in 2011, among those who can speak
English and do something towards
nation building by way of starting small
businesses or contributing to the labor
market, a good number of them are
those who passed through Don Bosco
VTC’s Kakuma. Some of them come back
to Kenya, to Don Bosco Kakuma to look
for labor force to join their business or
industry and some come back to qualify
themselves further.
In the Kakuma Refugee Camp, which
today accommodates a population
of over 128,000, which is more than
its intended capacity, the need for
education, both academic and technical
is very acute. It is all the more urgent
considering the fact that the majority
of the refugees are young people who
are keen on furthering their growth
and development. Being refugees they
do not have other options but to rely
on UNHCR and the other agencies. But
the funding is minimum at the moment
and the population is rapidly growing
compared to the past. Don Bosco VTC
too needs to expand and open up other
centers and introduce new trades
according to the present demand and
the needs of the refugee population. So
far about 15,000 students have passed
through our centers. In 2012 over 2000
students were educated at Don Bosco
VTC Kakuma. We hope to be of service
to many more young people once we
are able to have the necessary resources
to open up the closed down centers
and introduce new trades. We are
very grateful to UNHCR and the other
funding agencies for their continued
Number of Pastoral Workers Killed
in 2013 Nearly Doubles
Fides Releases Statistics on Religious
Killed Worldwide
The number of pastoral workers killed
in 2013 has almost doubled, indicating
a climate of moral decline. This was the
assessment given by Fides News Agency
in releasing its annual list of pastoral
care workers killed worldwide.
The agency stated that 22 pastoral
workers, mostly priests, were killed in
2013, the last of which occurred on the
night of New Years Eve where California
priest, Fr. Eric Freed, was murdered in
his residence.
The highest number of deaths
occurred in Latin America, particularly
in Colombia, where 7 priests were killed.
15 priests were killed in total in the
Americas. In Africa, 3 pastoral workers
were killed, 3 in Asia and 1 in Europe.
Fides noted, however, that their list does
not include missionaries ad gentes who
have been killed, but rather “all pastoral
care workers who died violent deaths.”
“We do not propose to use the term
‘martyrs’, if not in its etymological
meaning of “witnesses” since it is up
to the Church to judge their possible
merits and also because of the scarcity
of available information in most cases,
with regard to their life and even the
circumstances of their death,” the
agency stated.
The agency also stated their concern
for several pastoral care workers who
have been kidnapped or disappeared in
the world, most notably, in Syria and in
the Republic of Congo.
On several occasions, Pope Francis
has called for prayer for those who
suffer for the faith. “Let us think about
our many Christian brothers and sisters
who are suffering persecution for their
faith. There are so many, perhaps more
now than in past centuries,” the Holy
Father said during his Angelus address
on November 17th, 2013.
Fides stated that the majority
of pastoral workers were killed in
particularly violent attacks. Such
attacks, the agency said, are “a sign of
the climate of moral decline, economic
and cultural poverty, which generates
violence and disregard for human life.”
“They all lived in these human and
social contexts, carrying out the mission
of proclaiming the Gospel message
without making sensational acts, but by
witnessing their faith in the humility of
daily life,” the agency stated.
January is Anti-Slavery month
in the USA, and marks the
release of a graphic new film: ‘12
Years a Slave’ directed by Steve
McQueen. Already nominated
for nine Oscars, it is based on the
true story of Solomon Northup,
a black man who was kidnapped
and forced into slavery. One of
the few slaves to escape bondage
in the United States, he published
his memoirs in 1853 and went on
became a prominent figure in the
abolitionist movement.
The beginning of this screen
account portrays Northup, played
by Chiwetel Ejiofor, living happily
with his wife and children in a prosperous part of upstate New York, where he earns
a good living as a carpenter and violin player. Befriended by two strangers one day,
Northup is persuaded to take a short trip to Washington to perform as a musician there.
Soon the nightmare begins. Northup awakens from a drunken evening in chains, sold
by his new ‘friends’ into slavery. His cell window is within view of Capital Hill. Stripped
of his identity and now called ‘Platt’, he is shipped to New Orleans on a paddle steamer,
with a group of other black men, women and children, where they are sold off to the
highest bidder.
We see Platt’s sense of disbelief and horror as he endures every possible abuse, beatings
and whippings and witnesses the torture of his fellow prisoners. Particularly poignant
is a woman separated from her children. She weeps unconsolably and the plantation
owner’s wife looks on sympathetically, saying: “poor woman - she’ll soon forget them.”
Platt’s first owner, William Ford, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, is relatively kind,
and enlists his help as an engineer and musician. But his overseer John (Paul Dano)
becomes very resentful about this and after a bloody fight, Platt is sold to Edwin Epps
(Michael Fassbender), a sadist who quotes scripture as justification for beating his slaves
and raping the women among them.
What follows is a relentless assault on the senses, with scenes of rape, savage beatings,
torture, hangings - sometimes set against beautiful pink skies, or scenes with the
plantation owner’s wife and sisters calmly strolling about on the verandah of their lovely
house - somehow oblivious of the atrocities taking place in their front garden. The owners
lead prayer services outdoors each Sunday. Platt is forced to play music for dances at
neighbour’s parties or on the slaves’ day off - reminiscent of scenes in concentration
camps - where I believe the Nazis would get Jewish prisoners to play and dance.
As the harrowing years pass, the future seems hopeless, until one day, very near the end
of the film, Platt meets a Canadian stranger played by Brad Pitt, who he learns to trust.
It’s a hard film to watch, but worth seeing. A salutary reminder that there are many
more slaves in the world now, than there were when this story took place. And they are
not all in faraway places.
By: Siedlecka
Film: 12 Years a Slave1 ST QUARTER 4344