The full size statue of Don Bosco containing his first-class relic arrived at the Salesian Province Centre in Melbourne on 4th July 2023 as part of the Centenary celebrations of the arrival of Salesians in Australia. On the weekend of 8-9 July, the relic statue made the first pilgrimage to St Joseph’s church in Collingwood to be officially welcomed into the Province. The newly renovated church was packed with many pilgrims, especially from Vietnamese backgrounds, to welcome St John Bosco to Australia over the weekend.
The official welcome Eucharist was led by Fr Anthony Dung Nguyen, Rector of the Formation Community and Provincial Delegate for Formation, in the evening on Saturday 8 July. Fr Peter Varengo SDB, an Italian missionary priest to Australia who was born in the same region as Don Bosco, delivered the homily highlighting the Saint’s life story and his relationship with God who specifically called him to work for the good of the young.
Many pilgrims, lots of familiar and unfamiliar faces, flocked the relic casket and prayed for their needs, especially for the young members of their families. Constant streams of pilgrims visited St Joseph’s church over the weekend to experience the relic statue for comfort and strength from God through the intercession of this patron saint of youth, St John Bosco.
The Provincial Fr Will Matthews SDB who was away in New Zealand paid a special visit to the relic statue along with the Provincial Economer Fr Peter Carroll SDB on Monday evening 10 July to officially welcome the Saint into the Province, and to the pilgrims who paid a special trip to St Joseph’s Collingwood on a cold evening.
The relic statue will be at various Salesian houses and other parishes in Melbourne until 13 August. It will then make a pilgrimage to Sydney, Adelaide, Hobart and Perth. The relic statue of the Saint will return to Melbourne later in September for a Salesian provincial retreat and the official farewell Mass at St Margaret Mary’s church in North Brunswick on 30 September.
The relic statue of St John Bosco, will be touring Australia from July-September as celebrations of the centenary of the arrival of the Salesians on Australian soil continue throughout 2023.
The wax replica of the Saint contained in a glass casket comes from the Province of Hong Kong, made by Gianpiero Zoncu at the time of Don Bosco’s beatification in 1929. A small bone from the right arm of the Saint was removed and placed in this wax replica before being securely concealed in the large glass casket.
For Catholicism, a relic is of immense reverence, and helps to remind individuals of the holiness of a saint, and the fulfillment of God’s work through the saint. A relic can consist of anything from the bones of a saint to an object that the saint came in contact with during his or her lifetime.
The 410 kg glass casket containing the wax replica of St John Bosco will be received by the Salesian Province Centre in Ascot Vale, Victoria by the end of June. It will be on tour and displayed for prayers and homage at various Salesian works in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Hobart and Perth from July to September 2023.
The relic will stay at the Catholic Leadership Centre in East Melbourne during the Salesian Biannual Educational Conference in August. It will also journey with the Salesians and many lay members at the Centenary Retreat in the last week of September at the Foothills in Mooroolbark.
The relic statue of St John Bosco will be farewell from Australia during the concluding Mass of the Centenary led by Archbishop Peter Comensoli on Saturday 30th September at St Margaret Mary’s parish in North Brunswick at 11:00 am.
Proposed tour of the relic statue:
3-7 Ascot Vale
8-11 Clifton Hill
20-21 St Joseph’s College, Ferntree Gully
27-31 Brunswick + St Margaret Mary’s Parish
3-8 Sunbury [College + Parish]
10-13 APSPA Conference
16-22 Engadine, NSW [Parish, College, Dunlea Centre, SJB Schools]
23-28 St Marys, NSW [Parish & Youth Centre]29-31 St Mark’s, Port Pirie, SA
1-5 Gawler, SA [Ss Peter & Paul’s Parish & Xavier College]
7-11 Glenorchy, TAS [Dominic College & St John’s Parish]
16-20 Perth, WA
25-30 Centenary Retreat, VIC
30 Conclusion Eucharist of the Centenary [St Margaret Mary’s, North Brunswick
This story originally appeared in the Winter 2023 edition of the Salesian Bulletin, available now!
St John Bosco Parish, Suva, Fiji came alive on 24 May 2023, as the community gathered to celebrate the Feast Day of Mary Help of Christians. This great Salesian feast was also marked by the installation of Brother Peter Anh Vu Nguyen for the Ministry of Acolyte.