Check out this article on the pilgrimage of the relic of Saint John Bosco that I submitted to the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCANews) …
CEBU CITY — Social networking website Facebook has been used to boost interest in pilgrimage of the relic of Saint John Bosco as it visited different churches and Don Bosco schools in Negros and Cebu islands in central Philippines.
Filipino devotees have used the site to share photographs and personal reflection of the tour of the relic in the run-up to Christmas.
The relic – the right hand of the Italian saint placed inside a metal box and embedded in a wax replica of his body – has gone on a world pilgrimage in 2009 as part of the 150th anniversary celebration of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB). The pilgrimage was also in preparation for the 200th birth anniversary of Don Bosco (Don is a title of respect for secular nobility and church hierarchs in Italy, Spain and Portugal) in 2015.
The relic was taken on tour to different churches and Don Bosco schools in Negros and Cebu islands in central Philippines from December 5 to 23. It is now touring Manila and other parts of the northern island of Luzon.
Saint John Bosco dedicated his life to service for the young starting with a school for out-of-school boys in Turin, Italy, nearly 200 years ago. The religious congregation he organized, the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) – the saint’s patron was St. Francis of Sales – has since built nearly 2,000 Salesian schools worldwide.
At present, the Salesian community in the Philippines has two provincial houses, one in Luzon and the other in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Thousands have flocked to pay homage to the saint’s relic at parishes and Don Bosco facilities in Metro Cebu such as the Lourdes Parish and Don Bosco Technology Center campus in Punta Princesa, Cebu City, the Don Bosco centers in Liloan and Pasil, the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, the DB formation center in Lawaan, Talisay, and the Mary Help of Christians campus in Minglanilla. The Philippines’ tour will end on Jan. 15.
While thousands flocked to venerate the saint, Filipino devotees similarly followed the pilgrimage with the great photos posted at the Facebook pages such as “Saint John Bosco relic pilgrimage (Negros-Cebu) Photos” and the Facebook page of Father Lan Guiao, SDB.
Father Lan, rector of the Don Bosco Technology Center in Punta Princesa, Cebu City, encouraged his 4,776 Facebook friends to share hundreds of pictures taken from when the relic landed on a special chartered flight at the Bacolod airport on Dec. 5 until it left the Mactan-Cebu International Airport on Dec. 23.
The pictures, taken by a handful of Salesians, were shared and reposted on scores of Facebook pages and groups along with hundreds more photographs taken by both Bosconians and devotees.
The Salesians, whose focus is on establishing technology schools in the Philippines, have for some time now been using the websites such as Yahoo groups, blogs and Facebook to keep in touch with former students and alumni.
In preparation for the Philippine pilgrimage of the saint’s relic, they created the websitefor spreading the message of the relic pilgrimage and the life and works of Saint John Bosco. The website posted downloadable updates, schedules, infographics, videos, songs, a Google map showing where the relic is every day and a countdown.
In Cebu, Father Fidel Orendain SDB called on members of the Bosconian International Chamber of Commerce (BICC) Cebu chapter to refer to the site for more information about the pilgrimage. BICC Cebu president Rene Echavez, a maker and exporter of decorative pieces in Cebu, said the BICC assisted coordination with local governments and the police as well as drumming up publicity.