On Friday and Saturday August 11 and 12, a contingent of staff leaders from all over the Australia-Pacific region gathered in Melbourne for the biennial Salesian Educational Leaders Conference, ‘Returning to our source, Jesus Christ and Don Bosco’. The keynote speaker for the conference was Fr Joe Boenzi SDB. Fr Joe is an American educator with a doctorate in spiritual theology. He teaches at the Institute of Salesian Studies based at Berkeley University in California and the School of Theology at the Pontifical University in Rome.
Fr Joe is an expert on the person, thinking and inspiration of Don Bosco and his patron, St Francis de Sales. Fr Joe unpacked the story of Don Bosco with a key focus on the inspirations in Don
Bosco’s life before retelling the Don Bosco story as an inspiration for us in the contemporary world. Fr Joe once again proved to be a wonderful and motivating speaker, using his knowledge and passion to truly enthuse all participants at the conference.
The conference also included a number of excellent workshops, where further details were provided on various people and aspects of Don Bosco’s life. Workshops included Mamma Margaret, Jesus, Mary Help of Christians, Joseph Cafasso, the Salesian Charter, Memoirs of the Oratory, The Preventive System, Biographies that Don Bosco wrote about three of his model students who attended his school – the Oratory of St Francis de Sales in Turin. Workshops were delivered stunningly by contemporary leaders of the APSPA group.
The most important aspect of the APSPA Conference is the unique opportunity it provides for collegiality and friendship amongst the staff of the eleven schools across the Australia-Pacific province to share stories, gain new ideas and to meet with our Salesian friends, mentors and leaders including our current Provincial Fr Greg Chambers, newly appointed Provincial, Fr Will
Matthews SDB, Vice Provincial Fr Bernie Graham SDB, Fr Frank Bertagnolli SDB, Fr Peter Carroll SDB, Fr Elio Capra SDB and Fr Phil Gleeson SDB.
All of us left the conference inspired further by the life and work of our founder, Don Bosco, and returned with greater knowledge of the source of his faith, his motivation and his commitment to working for and educating young people in new and innovative ways.
Mr Rob Brennan
Chairman of APSPA