5955(II)_Practising ‘Synodality’ in a Melanesian context

by ceteratolle posted Mar 14, 2023


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By Fr. Ambrose Pereira, SDB

       Rabaul, PNG, 14 March 2023 -- The Parish priests and lay leaders of the Salesian parishes of Papua New Guinea, met for a two-day meeting at Don Bosco Technical Secondary School, Kokopo. Hosted by the parish of Mary Help of Christians, Kokopo, and under the leadership of Fr Moïse Paluku, PGS Youth Ministry Delegate, the participants numbering twelve spent 7-8 March in reflection, discussions and sharing on the role and ministry of persons entrusted to our care in our different parishes.

       Our role as a ‘Synodal church’ in a fast changing Melanesian culture was lucidly presented by Archbishop Rochus Tatamai, Archbishop of Rabaul. In his presentation on Day 2 of the meeting, he dealt with two important components: 1. Synodal Parish and 2. What is Synodailty?

       In the first session on the Synodal Parish, he outlined: Practical Methods for fostering synodality in a Synodal Parish explaining: 1- Setting the Groundwork and Casting a Vision; 2- Self-Reflection and Listening; 3- Apostolic Dialogue; 4- Synodality in Action. In the second session on Synodailty, he touched on: 1- Meaning and origin of the word “Synodality”, 2- Pope Francis and Synodality, 3- Aim of the Synod and 4- How to practice Synodality.

       “As Melanesians we have been practising ‘Syndodality over the centuries’, devoid of the terms used by the church today. Land was purchased by an exchange of goods, which was a legal exchange and a just payment. The Melanesians lived as one people with sharing of goods amongst each other. Concepts such as ‘planning’, ‘saving’ etc. do not exist. There was always a sharing of goods with the members of the clan and the community. This sharing is an ‘investment’ which will be repaid at a later occasion. There was no space for selfishness,” explained Archbishop Rochus as he contextualized ‘Synodailty’ in Papua New Guinea today.

       He invited all the participants to open avenues to encounter, to listen and to discern to the Spirit of the Lord speaking through the people. “Provide an opportunity for the entire People of God to discern together how to move forward on the path towards being a more synodal Church in the long-term, to foster a lived experience of participation, discernment and shared responsibility in furthering the Church’s mission in the world”, he said. He encouraged the Parish priests to journey with their people and at the pace of the people, keeping in mind that the building of the church is a long-term process that will last through the ages.

       On the first day, Fr Moïse Paluku, Coordinator for Youth Ministry, opened the program with a prayer and welcome. He then dealt with the Parish and the Shrine entrusted to the Salesians, stressing the fact that it is our service to the local ecclesial community, as we collaborate in the pastoral program of the Diocese and bring in our special charism where the spirituality of young people can be experienced. Archdiocese of Rabaul, Caritas officer, Mr Basil B. Peutalo spoke of the main areas of Caritas work where Justice, peace, integral Human Development, relief and help for the needy is dealt with.

       The group visited the Salesian Sisters who run a centre for girls. On the second day the group had the opportunity to pray for their parishioners at the shrine of Bl Peter ToRot at Rakunai. It was an eye-opener for the visitors to know that the catechist over a period of 10-15 years has journeyed and built fitting places of worship for the community at the mass centres of St Francis Assisi, Ramale and Sts Peter and Paul, Nordup. Similar situations exist in the other communities.

       Grateful for the interaction and the insights the participants return to build up their parishes keeping in mind ‘Synodality’.

       Present for the meeting were Fr Gilbert Pano, Araimiri, Fr Ambrose Pereira sdb, Sabama and Fr Joseph Thanh, Rapolo, together with representatives from their communities. We missed the presence of those in charge of the Shrine of Mary Help of Christians, Boroko, Shrine of Don Bosco, Kumgi and the parish priest of Christ the King parish, Tetere. We look forward to greater insights into our parish ministry in future.