Fr Bertagnolli’s reflects on Oratory at Dominic

For the past few weeks there has been a “media saturation” about the Centenary of ANZAC. And this will continue this weekend. And rightly so. There will also be an event at Dominic College, which has already received extensive publicity; that is the multimedia production of “In Their Own Words.”

The performance will take place in what has been named “THE ORATORY SPACE” – a space known in the past as “The Dance Studio”. I am sure many people will be asking the question “Why the ORATORY space?” For many institutions and organizations, certain words have a powerful meaning, charged with tradition, and valued almost as “sacred”. Think of the word ANZAC – and what that means for Australians and New Zealanders! Well, in Don Bosco’s story and tradition, there is hardly another word which is more sacred and charged with historical and spiritual meaning, than ORATORY, or THE Oratory.

When Pope Pius the 9th (the longest serving Pope in the Catholic Church) ordered Don Bosco to write down his own life story for the benefit of future generations, Don Bosco entitled that work “Memoirs of the Oratory”. “Oratories” existed already before Don Bosco; they were places associated with parishes, where young people gathered for religious instruction, games, entertainment, and found friends and helpers to assist them in their needs and problems.

Don Bosco began the work of the Oratory for the young people of the city of Turin who had no family, no parish, no education… and were being exploited as “factory fodder” during the week, and got themselves in trouble on weekends… So Don Bosco’s Oratory offered a place of friendship, security, instruction, celebration, games, food and entertainment.

The Oratory moved from a weekend experience to a life experience, and expanded to become a HOME (with Mamma Margaret), a SCHOOL (for learning new skills), a FAITH COMMUNITY (for religious celebrations), a PLAYGROUND (to make friends and have fun). Don Bosco’s Oratory at Valdocco (a suburb of Turin) became the cradle of the Salesian work, where the “Preventive System” of education was born. I trust that THE ORATORY SPACE at Dominic College will preserve and continue Don Bosco’s tradition.

Source: Dominic College

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