Fr. Ángel Fernandez Artime Rector Major of the Salesians arrived at Jackson International Airport, Port Moresby at 5.30 AM on 30 April, 2015. Fr. Peter Baquero, the delegate of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands accompanied by Fr. Danny Torres Vice-Provincial, other Salesian Priests, Brothers, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, students and staff representatives from Don Bosco Technological Institute (DBTI) East Boroko, Don Bosco Technical School Gabutu and Oro Cultural group, warmly welcomed the Rector Major, Fr. Vaclav Klement Regional Councillor for East Asia-Oceania, Fr. Horacio Lopez the secretary of the Rector Major and other media personnel from Rome and Turin.
Shouts of “Viva, Don Bosco!” “Wantok Bosco” (in Tok Pisin meaning oneness with Don Bosco) continued till Emmaus Conference Centre – the Delegate House, where the visitors are accommodated. At the entrance of the campus, the Rector Major was given a traditional welcome by Autonomous Region of Bougainville. Seated on a specially adorned chair, he was carried to the Salesian residence. The ceremony was indeed impressive.
Fr. Peter introduced Fr. Louie Castañeda DBTI Rector, Fr. Danny Torres Vice-Provincial, Br. Jess Garcia the Delegate Economer, Fr. Valeriano Barbero pioneer missionary, Edwardo Revilla, Sr. Alice Fulgencio FMA Superior and others. Fr. Ángel said “I am very happy to be with you. Thank you Salesian priests, brothers, sisters and members of the Salesian family. Had Don Bosco been alive, he would have visited you. Although I travelled thirty two hours to reach here, the distance doesn’t matter as what counts is love. I feel at home with you.”
During an interview Fr. Louie said, “It is a very special privilege for us to have the Rector Major amidst us during the bicentenary year of the Birth of Don Bosco.
Various programmes unfolded during the course of the day. Rector Major was given a warm reception by the staff and students of DBTI through a cultural fest by Kairuku, Miline Bay and Manus dancers. Philip Kaigo on behalf of the student body welcomed the Rector Major saying “Welcome Fr. Angel to PNG, the Land of the Unexpected.” Fr. Angel while appreciating the beautiful performance said “Culture is something sacred, treasure it.” Certificates of appreciation were presented.
Later at the Caritas Technical Institute, run by Caritas Sisters of Jesus – a member of the Salesian Family, the Rector Major was accorded a grand welcome by 900 students and the staff members through a well-coordinated programme. He blessed the recently constructed multi-functional auditorium. In the evening, during the Eucharistic celebration with the Salesians from the various communities, the Rector Major encouraged them to continue to be good witnesses of the gospel in Papua New Guinea.
Honourable Prime Minster Peter O’Neil, Most Rev. John Ribat, Archbishop of Port Moresby, Most Rev. Michael Banach, Apostolic Nuncio for PNG-SI and other church and state dignitaries were present at the welcome dinner. The Prime Minister highlighted the fact that 50% of the population of the country is below 25 years. He appreciated the educational work done by the Salesian Family members. The Apostolic Nuncio and Archbishop Ribat spoke glowingly about the charism and mission of Don Bosco while thanking the Salesians for their contribution to the growth of the Church and the country. The celebrations concluded with traditional dances and distribution of mementos.
By Arlene Abital, Josephine Sagar & Ambrose Pereira