Address to Don Angel Artime Fernandes SDB
Updated: Nov 26, 2019
This is the text presented at the re-dedication of the Thornleigh Chapel on the occasion of the visit of the Rector Major of the world network of Salesians, a network comprising over a third of a million adults actively working face to face with the young in over 130 countries.
The address was given by Mrs Andrea O'Callaghan, Headteacher of Thornleigh on November 21st 2019.
Reverend Fathers, Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to Thornleigh Salesian College and the special occasion of the re-dedication of our chapel. I am especially delighted to welcome Father Angel, the Rector Major of the worldwide Salesian community, the 10th successor of Don Bosco; it is a real privilege to have you visit our school today.
As a school we are deeply indebted to the Salesian community for the generous investment that they have made here so that every day our students and staff can come together in prayer and to celebrate the sacraments.
Our school is a special place. It is a place where each and every child is welcomed, loved and cherished. A place where children from very diverse backgrounds learn to live together in a culture of tolerance and respect. It is a place where we seek to develop honest citizens and good Christians through true Salesian education.
Our Salesian identity gives us a clear framework in which to deliver our mission and our values.
Our school is a home – we aim to provide a place where our children feel, and are, safe. We care deeply about their well-being and provide structure and kindness so that they can flourish.
We are a school – a place of learning; academic achievement is at the heart of this but so too is personal development; we work hard so that every day our children know more, can do more, understand more but more importantly are kinder, more compassionate and more generous of spirit.
We are a church – a place where God is at the centre of all that we do. A place where spiritual growth is fostered and nurtured. We encourage all our children to discover their souls and to grow as human beings.
And we are a playground – a place of enjoyment, new experience, a place where relationships develop and grow. We are proud of the many trips and holiday opportunities that our staff give to our students; from New York to Paris, from ski-ing to Disney, ensuring that our children have a wide cultural experience is central to our work.
We are deeply committed to our Salesian identity and we are constantly seeking new ways to develop and celebrate it. Each year we enjoy coming together with the other Salesian schools in the province for our Salesian Sports events, for our Salesian retreat experiences and especially for our annual ‘Make Some Noise’ sleepover here at school. It is quite a sight to see 300 children go from dancing in the hall, to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, to sleeping (or not!) on the floors of classrooms, to sharing meals together over the weekend, to enjoying a full on fun fair on the yard and to finally celebrate Mass in the most joyous way together – it is a true Salesian event.
Our children know that they are part of something bigger. We have a well-established partnership with our Salesian school in Moshi, Tanzania with sixth form students volunteering there every other summer, teaching and supporting children in school. We are looking forward to developing this partnership further this year, working closely with staff in our Connecting Classrooms programme where we will work across a number of schools from Bolton and Tanzania on professional development projects.
We are very excited to have been granted International School status and our students in Year 8 are embarking on a three-year programme with Salesian schools in Turin and Madrid on a Science and technology project ‘OUR PLANET – OUR FUTURE’. Children in our Salesian schools across Europe demonstrating their commitment to respond to the call of Pope Francis to care for our common home.
As we begin our service of re-dedication we do so as a Salesian community, past and present. We do so as a family, united in our vocation to serve the young in the spirit o f St John Bosco and we do so with a renewed energy and determination to ensure that every young person in our care truly knows that they are loved.