At 10 am, last weekend, at the sound of the “garamut” [slit drum made from felled tree] the procession began from the sacristy at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Vunapope, the Headquarters of the Archdiocese of Rabaul in East New Britain Province, PNG.
With their traditional “singsing,” Bosconians from VunaBosco Agro-Technical Secondary School led the entrance procession to the sanctuary.
The Salesian Archbishop of Rabaul, His Grace Francesco Panfilo, presided over the celebration. There were around 30 concelebrating priests. Salesians from the different Salesian Houses in the Delegation came over to witness the momentous event. Likewise some staff from Don Bosco Technical School in Gabutu where Fr Isidore is currently assigned as Spiritual Moderator. A sizeable crowd from Fr Isidore's family, relatives and friends also joined in the celebration.
The Bosconians from VunaBosco led by Fr Joseph Tran Phuoc Tinh SDB animated the music and the singing.
The Rector of VunaBosco, Fr Roger Miranda SDB, was Master of Ceremonies.
In his homily, Archbishop Francesco Panfilo recalled the moment of his own episcopal ordination when he felt more deeply the call to “put out into the deep.” [“Duc in altum” is Archbishop Francesco’s episcopal motto]. The same challenge is now given to the new priest. Fr Isidore chose as his motto: “The love of Christ impels us” from Saint Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, which was the liturgy’s Second Reading. “A credible father, a teacher of the faith, a good shepherd”—these, according to Archbishop Francesco, are what the young people are asking the newly-ordained priest to be.
Fr Isidore’s mother, his brother and some people in the crowd were in tears particularly after Fr Isidore was finally vested with the stole and the chasuble and the Archbishop and all the priests offered him the sign of peace.
Towards the end of the two hour Liturgy, Fr Isidore thanked everyone who has been part of his life and formation for the past sixteen years. After the Ordination, people flocked to the sanctuary to wish the newly-ordained priest well and to ask for his blessing. Then came the feast.
In the afternoon, Fr Isidore drove the bus to bring a group of Salesians and some staff of DBTS Gabutu, to Vunadidir, the village where his father came from. On behalf of the Salesians, Fr Peter Baquero, the Rector of DBTS, thanked Fr Isidore's family and relatives.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Rabaul was established in 1880. The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart were the main evangelizers there. The first Papua New Guinean martyr, Blessed Peter ToRot, beatified by Blessed John Paul II in 1995, came from the Archdiocese of Rabaul, in the place called Rakunai. In God’s beautiful design, He has now also given the Church its first Papua New Guinean Salesian priest from the same Archdiocese. After 33 years of apostolate in the country, God has blessed us with this great gift. Now, Don Bosco truly has a Papua New Guinean and Melanesian face!