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Don Bosco Relics Become Season's Crowd Puller
By C. M. Paul
Abroad, Dec. 11. MANILA - Don Bosco Relics currently in the Philippines from 5 December till 15 January 2011 could be largest crowd puller of this holiday season in the Philippines. Taking into account the overwhelmingly enthusiastic reception the Relics received in South Korea, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, the Philippines tour is possibly setting an unbeatable record for the Relics onward Asia Tour.
Thai Salesian provincial says, in Thailand the relics visited 29 places, covered 5,000 kms, including a helicopter ride to get to the Laos border. In St. Peter's Parish Sampran which has 10,000 Catholics, some 2,000 of them were there to welcome the casket, along with all 200 seminarians from the national Seminary.
Salesian director at D.B. Tech Phnom Penh Thmey says the Cambodian Minister for Education, Sport and Youth, Im Sothy, spoke for some 20 minutes in front of the Don Bosco Casket praising Don Bosco Society's role in rebuilding Cambodia. To an audience of 2,000 students and past pupils he told: 'We do not know each other... but we know Don Bosco.'
In the southern Philippines, St. John Bosco's relics encased in an ornate casket continues to receive rousing welcome and unscheduled stops on demand. Students from private and public schools line up the streets waving flaglets and shouting 'welcome'!
During prayer moments, people light candles and stand in silence. Churches are packed with long lines of penitents queuing up the confessionals.
Photographing is the hardest to control. People want to take pictures not only for souvenirs but to send to their loved ones, perhaps with the hope that God's grace could be mediated by this new technology. Boys and girls take photos to send to parents at work, and parents sent photos to friends and children who could not come.
The Media Coordinator Fr Fidel Orendain adds: people come back bringing their family, friends and more young people. Young people have been so enthused by his life and his spirituality. It's been raining here, but the downpour always stops in time for the procession.
Commercialization and donation activities have actually been discouraged, but people insist in donating to Salesian works for youth and when there is no drop box, they manage to put intentions and cash somewhere near the relic.
The diocesan clergy have been very supportive; including the Department of Education; they know they need all the help they could get in the education of young people.
While Municipal workers request to have the relics pass by their establishment, the police force join in the short impromptu prayer service. The chief of police present on site grants immediate permission for unscheduled procession and asks his officers to accompany St. John Bosco to the parish church of Our Lady of Victory, passing by the main road in the middle of business establishments where people courteously step out to wave and make a sign of the cross.
Factory workers from the milling station come out wearing their hard hats and prayerfully wave at the passing relic.
St. John Bosco's presence continues to get people excited. So far, the saint has not been a let-down. Rain has been the constant problem. As the afternoon mass was winding down, organizers approached Bishop Patrick Buzon for a Plan B that would forgo the procession because of the continuous downpour since lunch time. The bishop's response caught everyone by surprise. ''It won't rain. Don Bosco will make sure it stops. This is nothing compared to the big miracles he can perform.'' As the Holy Mass was ending, a rainbow appeared. Three thousand people joined the procession.
Bishop Patrick Buzon headed the convoy of twenty vehicles to Dumaguete. Five parishes with their parishioners and students along the way made a wish that organizers found difficult to deny.
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