Port Moresby (Agenzia Fides) - "Araimiri remains the place where the first missionaries planted the Salesian charism on Melanesian soil", writes Fr. Ambrose Pereira, SDB, Director of the Communications Office of the Episcopal Conference of Papua New Guinea (PPNG) and the Solomon Islands, on the occasion of the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Salesian presence in Papua New Guinea in Araimiri, in the Province of the Gulf of Kerema, in PNG.
Animated by the motto "Honoring the past, celebrating the present, imagining the future", a solemn Eucharistic celebration was presided over by the Bishop of Kerema, Mgr. Peter Baquero. During his homily, the Bishop urged the congregation "to recognize the presence of God in Araimiri and above all to follow Don Bosco's teachings in all pastoral, social and educational activities".
"We wanted to thank the Lord, with joy and gratitude, for the gift, dedication and commitment of these four decades of Salesian presence in Araimiri", said Fr. Dominic Kachira sdb, present at the event. "The Covid-19 pandemic limited the preparations and the number of participants in the celebrations", added Fr. Pankaj Xalxo sdb, Rector of an institute started by the religious. After driving 7 hours to be present at the event, Sister Carmencita Rodriguez, of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA), part of the Salesian Family, emphasized that "the anniversary provokes my missionary zeal".
Several Salesian priests (some from abroad, representing the Province to which the mission belongs) were among those present, as well as other lay Salesian brothers, Salesian nuns, from Caritas, Canossians and missionaries of the Immaculate Conception, and lay members of the Salesian Family, alumni, students and friends.
On June 12, 1980, the first Salesian "missionary pioneers" arrived in Araimiri. Among them Fr. Valeriano Barbero, Fr. Rolando Fernandez and the Salesian coadjutor Joseph Kramar. In his personal sharing, Fr. Barbero wanted to remember that "each Salesian must not feel foreign but 'one' with the people", that is, he must cultivate a unity of human, cultural, spiritual and pastoral intent.
That arrival was the beginning of a new work of education and evangelization, carried out by the Salesians of Don Bosco together with many volunteers. Over the years, this seed has blossomed and spawned many works and institutions. In Arimiri the Salesians run a very well organized Secondary School, which provides families with quality education.
Traditionally well received and appreciated by the people, the Salesian mission is committed to the poor and marginalized, and offers a valuable service in the field of education and professional training. After several decades of flourishing development, on 23 December 2015 the Rector Major of the Salesians, Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime, officially erected the "Blessed Philip Rinaldi" Vice Province of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Island, based in Port Moresby. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 19/6/2020)