Sydney probably hasn’t seen anything quite like it since World Youth day. In something of a re-creation of the Salesian spirit that was evident in that city then, young people came in from around the nation from most of the Salesian works, and Fr Mosese Vitolio Tui even flew in from Samoa for the much-awaited OzBosco, billed as a weekend of Fun, Friends, Faith and Festivity.
By all accounts it was all of that, but “Sir, we want to see Jesus”, was what it was really all about, a theme that threaded through presentations and workshops, and even a touch of magic as professional magician Fr Michael Court kept the crowd enthralled with, well, he prefers not to call them ‘tricks’, obviously!
An active Pastoral Animation Team, in a model that has taken root strongly in the Australian-Pacific Province over many years involving Salesians SDB, FMA and lay, and now young adult leaders in the wings, honed to preventive system precision, led the event.
Sr Rochelle Lamb FMA was the coordinator. The chief location was the Don Bosco Youth Centre in Sydney’s West, a Centre that grew out of the 1988 Salesian Centennial response to an area identified as Australia’s poorest and most prolific, demographically speaking. The Centre is well-equipped to handle large numbers and offer them a variety of spaces.
Participants were kept focused with workshops covering a range of themes, from prayer and meditation to building bridges. Sydney itself, multicultural and vibrant, just a little wet at times, formed the right kind of backdrop, including a Harbour Tour. There was another kind of backdrop that emerged over the Saturday afternoon workshop sessions – a large portrait of Don Bosco, melded together from individual groups
The final Mass was a triumph of colour and participation. Fr Bernie Graham, the full-time Youth Ministry Delegate for the Province, saw to that with much assistance from many helpers. The Mass was followed by a spit-roast and then the crowd danced into the night with the Bushrangers (the name of a well-known ‘country music’ style band). ‘Bushrangers’ is a term that evokes somewhat romantic notions à la Robin Hood, but with a particular Australian touch. The historical reality was probably a lot nastier, but that didn’t stop even some of the older Salesian Sisters from getting into the swing of things!