Opening of the New Salesian Parish in Samoa

New Salelologa Church

New Salelologa ChurchA large group of people packed the new church in Salelologa, a new Salesian parish on the Savaii Island of Samoa, for the Blessing by Archbishop Alapati Mataeliga Lui on Friday December 18th.   It was the day all Salesians in the world celebrate 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Salesians of Don Bosco. Then again, It was also the third time in one week that the Archbishop presided at a great Salesian event.

Apart from the local parishioners, Salelologans from Australia, New Zealand, American Samoa and the USA had returned to their roots in great numbers to be part of this joyous celebration.    The 150+ strong choir from the Salesian Parish in Leauvaa had travelled to Salelologa to embellish the ceremony with uplifting singing.   This could almost be taken literally!  All but one of the priests from the “Big Island of Savaii” were present and seven of our Salesian Priests and three Salesian Sisters had travelled from Upolu for the occasion.  As in the previous celebrations (Fr. Visesio’s Ordination, Sr. Paula’s Perpetual Vows) the ceremony was enriched by cultural Samoan symbols and rituals. 

After the Blessing Mass the crowd was fed and entertained in traditional fashion, which in Samoa means lavishly with abundant amounts of food, and included the exchange of gifts to anyone of any importance, and those who had assisted in so many ways in the realization of the project.

It was 4 days short of 18 months, since the old church was pulled down, and they were 18 months of back breaking and sometimes heart breaking work.  The bell-towers’ beams and uprights, for example, were poured bucket by bucket by an endless stream of willing men, young and not so young!

Opening Blessing of the New Salesian Church in Samoa Opening Blessing of the New Salesian Church in Samoa
Opening Blessing of the New Salesian Church in Samoa Opening Blessing of the New Salesian Church in Samoa

The project was financed by local and overseas fundraising.  Samoan Communities in Australia, New Zealand, American Samoa and the USA feel very strongly connected to their roots, and were happy and proud to contribute generously to the new church in “their” village.  In the days leading up to the Blessing and on the day itself contributions flowed in so big heartedly that the debt of SAT $ 300,000 is nearly cleared.

Tomorrow morning most of the Salesians will quietly gather in the small community chapel of the new residence in Salelologa to celebrate the 150 years of our Congregation. Unfortunately pastoral work, ill health and travel do not allow all of us from celebrating together.  Travel here is not so much a tyranny of distance, as inconvenience and availability of transport.  But our 150 years world wide, and 30 years in Samoa have really culminated in three magnificent celebrations which have helped to make Don Bosco more widely known in Samoa.