On the 16th until the 18th of January, Savio House hosted the “Celebrating Salesian Volunteering” Weekend. I was lucky enough to have the time to go, along with Carmela, my wife. We were quite late and arrived in the middle of the evening social at 11pm (I say the middle, it was just beginning!). The whole weekend was an opportunity for us to link up with other past and present volunteers. I realised just how diverse in terms of experience Salesian volunteering is – there were people from Savio House, Brettagh Holt, overseas volunteers and other parts of the Salesian family (sorry if I’ve forgotten anyone!).
Saturday saw us playing Sandy’s hybrid game show on “Belonging”: “Deal or no Deal” and “Strictly Come Dancing” mixed together. Luckily, only forty of us were there to be subjected to the singing! We also had the opportunity to make Christmas cards (it’s a bit late to send them now Bob – or is that too early??), design posters to promote both Salesian volunteering and to raise awareness of children’s rights. The lesson planning session was less popular – especially for teachers like myself!
The prayer sessions were equally diverse, with sessions led by the Savio team, the Brettagh team and excellent singing from Fr. Martin P, although the ball of string thrown across the chapel during night prayer did seem to get dangerously close to the ceiling lights! There was a thought provoking session from Fr. David on “Meaning”. Another from James on “Learning”, whose session included the Savio Super Sheep in what is sure to be an Oscar-baiting role.
My team celebrated (in the “Celebrating” session) after their nail-biting victory and some dodgy quiz master decision from Bob. We had the benefit of both youth and age/wisdom in our teams from the volunteers and the SDBs respectively (thanks Graham, Hugh and Bro. Michael!).
The weekend was finished off with an excellent mass led by our Provincial. It was great to see Fr. Michael, as he was the rector for both Carmela and I when we were at Savio. We also managed to bore everyone with our wedding pictures!
The weekend was a great success and an energising experience for all. It has left me thinking hard about my Salesian spirituality – or lack of sometimes. Many links were made; from people planning retreats and advertising their own youth projects (yes, that’s you John!), informing about upcoming Salesian events and thinking of how they could continue to develop the Salesian seed that was planted in them when they initially volunteered – for some, this was longer ago than for others!
It was greatly inspiring to see Savio continuing to go from strength to strength and I can speak for everyone when I say a heartfelt thanks to the Savio community for hosting us and to Fr. Bob and James for organising the weekend.