“Welcome to Korea, Don Bosco, father for poor boys. Welcome and thank you for being amongst us. Meet our boys, encourage them and give those who follow you your passion for the salvation of youth!” .This was the prayer of the provincial, Fr Stefano Nam, during the celebration of the opening ceremony for the pilgrimage of Don Bosco’s casket in Seoul, Korea.
On November 1st, the Solemnity of All Saints, in the chapel which is on the seventh floor of the Provincial House in Seoul the pilgrimage in Korea officially began, with about three hundred participants, members of the Salesian Family and Friends of Don Bosco. The casket will visit communities of SDB, of FMA and CSJ (Caritas Sisters of Jesus) in Seoul and Kwangju until November 17 before leaving for Thailand.
After finishing its pilgrimage through the Americas the casket temporarily returned to Italy, and had to make a long journey to Korea to begbin the East Asia-Oceania segment of the worldwide pilgrimage. In an interesting way, the famous ‘dream’ became a reality. Or is it a new dream? On October 24, from Brescia to Milan where he took the flight to Asia that made a stopover in Rome Don Bosco traced a route across Moscow, Siberia, Mongolia and above the city of Beijing, which Don Bosco dreamed of in 1885 in Barcelona, a prophetic dream, the fulfillment of his mission to the young that extends across the world, from Valparaiso to Beijing. and from there he arrived in Seoul.
“I am very pleased to know that Don Bosco’s casket has arrived safe and sound in Seoul. The Rector Major, Fr Pascual Chávez, sent this message to the confreres to encourage them and make them know that he is very close to them during the pilgrimage of casket in Korea.
The celebration began with a band of traditional instruments made and played by students of Don Bosco Youth Centre, then Fr Marcello Baek was presented with the keys of the House, a symbolic gesture of what Don Bosco would have done had he appointed him as Rector, and a gesture that gave a true sense of arrival of the Founder. Then people moved to the chapel for the welcoming liturgy.
As an event, the pilgrimage of a saint is not common in oriental culture. The media, especially those of the Church, took great interest and interviewed provincial on the meaning of pilgrimage and on Don Bosco himself. Fr Nam told them: “Finally, Don Bosco has arrived in East Asia which he had dreamed of 125 years ago. I think it’s very significant because the city Seoul, where Don Bosco is hosted now, is close to Beijing, the city of his dream, in the long journey of the whole pilgrimage which commemorates of the 200th anniversary of his birth. We pray, in front of the casket, that his dream will indeed be realised, even if in this time he has no opportunity to visit that particular city. May he also encourage us with missionary zeal in our province.”