St John Bosco Bicentenary Celebrations at St Mark’s Port Pirie

On Monday, 17th  August, students and staff gathered as a whole school community to celebrate the Bicentenary of the birth of St John Bosco. The Mass was led by Fr Francis who spoke with great energy about the Salesian family and the Charism of St John Bosco.

After the Eucharist, a special birthday cake was bought forward by the youngest student Jaida Camporeale and College Principal Greg Hay. There was a real buzz in the air as students sang ‘Happy Birthday Don Bosco’. The celebrations continued as the cake was distributed. It was lovely to see our Year 12 students interacting with the Benedict Campus, distributing cake and sharing in their recess/play time. It was a ‘cute’ moment filled with just the right amount of fun and laughter, just as Don Bosco would have wanted.

On the following day, Year 8-10 Student Leaders took part in a special celebration held at St John Bosco Primary in Brooklyn Park. Here students gathered in the company of the other South Australian Salesian schools to celebrate in both Eucharist and concert. It was a wonderful day that was enjoyed by all. One of our Year 10 students Ebony Bennier was asked to share a short reflection following the Eucharist about St John Bosco and where he can be seen in our community today. Ebony was most insightful as she shared personal experiences and spoke from heart.

Here is an excerpt from her speech:

‘St Mark’s is a place of welcome and hospitality. It feels like just yesterday when I started at St Mark’s, a year eight student not knowing if I’d make friends. Instantly I was made to feel welcomed, included and accepted at my new school. I was greeted with big smiles and great kindness which made me feel at ease in my new home. This sense of hospitality is a quality that I admire about Don Bosco and a characteristic I follow at school and in the community. I know that even our exchange students who are with us for a short period of time leave with a little Don Bosco welcome in their heart.

At St Mark’s we have a strong pastoral care system which is guided by our house and care group structure. This connection builds a family like atmosphere where kindness and love are behind everything we do. Today I see Don Bosco in my peers in many ways, particularly in how we care for others. I see friends guide, nurture and look out for one another. I see older students helping the little ones who are taking their first tentative steps. I see my peers look out for those with learning diffi culties and intellectual disabilities. It’s clear that Don Bosco has influenced how we connect with others.

St John Bosco’s playground is alive and well at St Mark’s. It is not uncommon for teachers to be out mixing with students at recess and lunch whether it be kicking the footy, asking about how my netball went or getting involved in our student leadership activities. As a young person in this environment I feel connected to my teachers and know they know me. I mean really know me. Having this relationship makes coming to school enjoyable.

Whilst Don Bosco tells us to value our formal studies he also places an emphasis on other experiences such as music, trades skills, drama, sport and community service. All St Mark’s students are encouraged to participate in these key areas that provide an opportunity for fun and creativity, whilst developing important life skills. I can see why he emphasises a balanced approach as these hands on activities are some of my most treasured memories. We are grateful and proud to att end a Salesian school that is infl uenced by St Don Bosco. His work has helped shape our saint marks experience and we continue to be inspired by his words’.

Ebony Bennier, Year 10 McNally House Representative

Source: St Mark’s Port Pirie

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