Thousands of Catholic youths, priests, religious and laypeople have united to welcome the relics of St. John Don Bosco. Singing ‘Viva Don Bosco’ and performing local dances they crowded the street from Kommoro Airport to the Salesian community in Dili. Bishop Alberto Ricardo da Silva of Dili
, prime minister of Timor Leste Xanana Gusmao and state officials were among those who welcomed the relic. “The presence of Sao Joao Dom Bosco [St John Don Bosco] here can bring peace and unite all people of Timor Leste,” Gusmao told reporters. He also thanked Salesian missionaries for their contribution in developing the faith of local people. The relic was exhibited at the Immaculate Conception cathedral in Dili, where students of St Don Bosco schools performed local dances. “St John Don Bosco came to Timor Leste to unite and give peace of heart to the people here. He came here to tell us not kill each other, no hatred, but love for one another,” bishop da Silva said in his homily. The president of Timor Leste, Jose Ramos Horta, also attended the mass. “For me St. John Bosco is one of many saints that live in the hearts of Timor Leste people. His spirit guides us through the works of Salesian missionaries here, which have benefited locals,” said Carla Antonia, a high-school student. “Don Bosco has also inspired many young people how to love Jesus and Mary in daily life. I promise to follow his examples by studying harder,” she added. The relic will also be adored at SDB communities in Fatumaka, the first Salesian mission when they arrived in Timor Leste in 1927. Earlier, on February 2, the St. John Bosco relics arrived in Japan and traveled to churches and schools in eight prefectures, including Miyazaki, Nagasaki, Osaka and Tokyo. In recognition of the saint’s concern for the young, an education symposium was held at the Salesian Sisters’ Meguro Seibi Gakuen elementary school in Tokyo, with Salesian bishop Osamu Mizobe of Takamatsu diocese in attendance. A welcoming ceremony for the relics was held at Himon’ya Church, also in Tokyo. The congregation there sang hymns and prayed as a group before going individually to touch a statue of Don Bosco which contained the saint’s relics. Afterwards, Himon’ya held a gathering for young people with “vocation” as the theme. The youths present were urged to give new consideration to vocation by listening to a talk by Bishop Mizobe and sharing their reflections with each other. They also had a chance to dine and converse with the Bishop. In the following days, the relics were brought to all the other churches in Tokyo until their departure from Japan. On March 7, the relics will fly to Indonesia and will stay there until March 12.