Sunday, September 12, 2010

Don Bosco Is Here!

The relics of the Salesian Founder, St. John Bosco, arrived at Saints Peter and Paul at about 2:00 AM on Sunday morning. We had anticipated an 11:30 PM arrival, but a tie-up in customs at the U.S./Mexican border caused the delay.

Over 100 people joyfully waited in and in front of the Church. Inside we prayed the rosary and listened as our elderly Salesians shared stories of how they were first attracted to the priesthood and the Salesians. The children of the Salesian Boys' and Girls' club, who were having a sleep-over, led us in the Glorious Mysteries of the rosary. When we found out about the delay in the relics' arrival, Brother Thien set up a screen and played part of the "Don Bosco: Mission to Love" movie.

Outside the church was just as much fun. We had searchlights playing around the facade and crosses on the steeples, which generated a lot of interest. Those familiar with North Beach on a Saturday night will understand that we attracted a diverse crowd! But they were all respectful, if not all completely sober, and it gave us a chance to share the story of the Salesians and our founder with new people. One guy loved one of the Knights of Columbus, in full regalia, and inststed on getting his picture taken with him. He took one with me, too. A girl from Italy asked what was going on, and we told her it was for Don Bosco, she said "Don Bosco!" and before you know it she was inside praying for Divine Mercy. I met three young men--students at the Academy of Art, an illustrator, and architecture student, and a film student. Great young men--interesting and interested.

The delay at customs was not the only hitch. The heght of the stairs at Saints Peter and Paul proved to be too great for the wheel ramps from the truck. They would only reach to about the fifth step below the level of the church. The reliquary weighs 1800 pounds. What to do? Strong men who were awaiting the relic gathered around:

"One two three DON two three DON two three DON BOSCO..." and we got it up the final stairs. Somehow the physical effort combined with the waiting made the moment even more precious.


Sunday Masses were phenomenal. Each Mass was packed as if it was Easter. Catholics from all over, from every ethnic group and walk of life came to honor the good Saint. His Excellency Bishop Ignatius Wang celebrated the 10:15 Cantonese Mass, assisted by Fr. Mario Rosso, Director of SS. Peter and Paul's Chinese Apostolate.

Bishop Wang has been right with us in the trenches at the Walk for Life West Coast from the very beginning, and pro-lifers will never forget it. Fr. Mario went to China when he was only about 15 years old, which would have been in about 1938, and he served there for many years, through the second world war, and the Communist takeover. He loves the Chinese people and they adore him. He speaks beautiful Cantonese and Mandarin, and those who know say his calligraphy is excellent.


The 12:00 PM Mass was celebrated by our school. It also was packed. From 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM, people gathered in the church to venerate the relic and pray the rosary. The Missionaries of Charity were there kneeling in front of the relic as they prayed.


The 5:00 PM Mass, "Don Bosco: Model of Holiness" honored our Salesian Jubilarians--true sons of Don Bosco. Fr. Malloy celebrated 70 years of religious profession , and 60 years as a priest! Confratulations, and thank you, Fr. Malloy!

He was joined by Fr. Armand Oliveri, below, (70 years of profession, 60 years as priest), Fr. Salvatore Giacomini (70 years of profession), and Fr. Mario Rosso (70 years of profession), all from Saints Peter and Paul. All are true sons of Don Bosco, rock solid and full of love.

Right now, Monday morning at 1:00 AM, there are a few people in the church, which is open all night. They are praying and meditating, keeping Don Bosco company. The quietness is nice after all the excitement. Tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM, there will be a Mass for our schoolchioldren and those from other parishes. Then Don Bosco visits our sister Salesian parish, Corpus Christi.

All photos this page courtesy of Monarch Media and Design. To see more pictures of the Relics Celebration, go here.

Posted by Gibbons J. Cooney

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