By Sr. Matalena Leota Su'atele, FMA
Honiara, Solomon Islands, 1 March 2016 - The visit of Mother Yvonne Reungoat, Superior General of the FMA Sisters to Mary Help of Christians South Pacific Region (SPR) that includes Australia, Samoa, and the Solomon Islands has been concluded on March 4th after a long return journey from Honiara to Rome.
On February 28, 2016, Mother arrived at the Honiara-Henderson Airport. She was welcomed by the Henderson FMA community, the girls of their Laura Vicuna Hostel, some students of the Don Bosco RTC Tetere, and many friends of the Sisters. The RTC students played some traditional music and together with the girls they sang their welcome to Mother Yvonne.
As they arrived at the Sisters' house, Mother was attacked by some young warriors. This is the traditional way of extending hospitality in the villages as a sign of peace and defense. Accompanied by two girls in traditional dress, with the warriors, girls, and young musicians, Mother entered the Sisters' house. In the evening, Mother Yvonne went to the Cathedral of Honiara for the Eucharistic Celebration where she met the Archbishop of Honiara, Rev. Adrian Smith, MC who officially presented her to the faithful present.
The Sisters of the Honiara community were very happy that Mother was among them, a sign of their belonging to the Institute, which makes them feel less isolated and better known in the Salesian world.
On February 29, the FMA Community prepared a Mass of thanksgiving for Mother Yvonne, a simple encounter made of traditional dances and songs, and supper with the two SDB communities working in the Solomon Islands.
The Mass of thanksgiving was presided and concelebrated by four Bishops of the three Dioceses of the Solomon Islands: Archbishop Adrian Smith, MC his Auxiliary Msgr. John Deaninoel, Bishop Luciano Capelli, SDB and Bishop Chris Cardone, OP.
The celebration was prepared by the girls of Laura Vicuna Hostel and a group of women of Mary Mazzarello Development Centre - the two FMA works, with the collaboration of the girls from the Don Bosco Rural Training Center in Tetere, and the Catholic mothers of the local parish where one FMA sister works as coordinator of catechetical ministry. The four FMA of Henderson community gave the gift of a necklace of shell money, a typical Solomon Islands handicraft and a carved canoe as a symbol of the spread of the Gospel and the Salesian charism in this country. On this occasion, Mother was able to meet with some members of the families of the first FMA Salesian vocation of the Solomon Islands.
In the evening, the two Salesian SDB communities met in the house of Henderson for a time of prayer together and to share supper and fraternity. At the Good Night, Mother Yvonne encouraged the Salesians and the FMA sisters to spread the Salesian Charism among the people and the youth with whom they live and work.
March 1: The day began with the visit to the Diocesan Office of Social Communication, coordinated by Sr. Sesilia Sala, FMA. Mother Yvonne encouraged her team to continue the work of formation in communication among the young, and she taped a brief message of greeting for the Catholic program of the FM Radio station.
Then there was the visit to the local Church of Burns Creek, where Sr. Bernadette Wauki shares her Catechetical experience every Sunday. The Catholic Mothers Association organized the welcome with some refreshments and an entertainment of local dances.
In the afternoon, she continued visiting the parish Churches where another two Sisters carry out Sunday activities of catechesis, oratory, and literacy: Good Shepherd Parish. Then she went to SDB parish of Tetere with the RTC in which Sr. Anna Maria Gervasoni and Sr. Sesilia Sala are teaching. Her welcome was accompanied by songs and dances from all the school students who involved Mother, making her feel accepted among the young.
Near the agricultural school, there is a community of the Daughters of Piety, who manage a clinic and collaborate in the parish with the Salesians. Mother Yvonne was happy to visit the clinic and the Sisters, who are awaiting the visit of their own Mother General. The day ended with a fraternal dialogue in the community between Mother and her daughters, in an exchange of impressions, dreams, desires, joys, and difficulties.
For the distant communities in the Pacific these were the days of communion, feast and strengthening in their Charismatic roots. We pray that visit of Mother General may bring the FMA sisters in the Pacific inspiration and encouragement in their vocation and missionary journey.