Saturday, 17 December 2016

Salesians in UK

While at Battersea I had the opportunity to have a small chat with Fr David O'Malley. I had come across several books of his, mostly on Salesian matters. Very compact and comprehensive in his writing.  From him I learnt that the Salesians were invited to England by the Bishops in the late 19th century to start quality education for young people. Till then the Catholics did not have much freedom.  So when the Salesians arrived on the scene, they were asked to solely look after the education of the young, meaning schools.

When the early Salesians tried to diversify trying to cater to other needs like the technical education and social work, they were told to stay off!  Not only by the Bishops but more specially by those already doing it!  The Technical education was offered by some 'guilds' I was told, which is still the case.  They strictly considered their privilege to offer technical education in the country. They are a sort of union and highly qualified, I am told.  The only other ministry the Salesians took on were the pastoral ministry in/of the Parishes.

So it came about that Salesians mostly stuck to the schools... and perhaps remained so.  Now when the vocations decreased the school structure too changed.  We still do have a couple of schools - having given up or closed down several. Even in these handful of schools, the Salesians are no more the ones calling the shots.  Most places, Salesians are only on the governors board and serve as school chaplains.

Well, that explains much of - or lack of - the types of apostolates Salesians are engaged in.  

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