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Don Bosco Technological Institute, Boroko

By Dr Catherine Nongkas
Principal of DBTI

Port Moresby, PNG, 15 October 2018 -- Catherine Nongkas PhD, is the principal of Don Bosco Technological Institute, Boroko, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. She shares with us her reflections and struggle to understand and live the Preventive System of Don Bosco. May her sharing inspire each of us in our moments of difficulty as well.

On the 22nd of April, 2018, I left Port Moresby to attend the Salesianity program at Paranaque, Philippines. This I consider was the best thing that happened for me as it was an opportunity to redirect my focus and understand the Preventive System of Don Bosco. I was tired from the journey and the events of the previous days and just wanted to unwind, but then, as the program went on, my level of energy picked up and I began to enjoy and relish the contents of what was availed to us.

In one of the sessions, the participants were asked to reflect on their own journey in the Preventive System of Don Bosco.

The questions asked were:

  1. What do you feel about the Preventive System?
  2. In your place of work, how do you reflect and promote the Preventive System?

As I shared with the class, I was asked the question, “In light of the Preventive System of Don Bosco, what do you truly desire in your heart?” My response to that prompting was ‘to understand and be understood’. The Professor asked me to elaborate further. Here is my personal reflection. This is what I said:

“When I was appointed Principal on September 4th 2016, I felt greatly challenged. Here I was, a Papua New Guinean woman, - not a Priest, not a Salesian, not a male and not a Bosconian. I was there only for a few months and so according to some Bosconians in DBTI, I did not know what it meant to be a Bosconian. In their eyes, I did not qualify to be the Principal of Don Bosco Technological Institute, Boroko (DBTI). For some, one had to be a Bosconian to be the Principal of DBTI. So, on all counts, I did not fit the mould that they had created for themselves.

I, on my part, tried to understand what ‘Bosconian’ meant and what was the Preventive System of Education that Don Bosco had lived and shared with his educators. My deep desire, since I was appointed Principal has been this prayer of St Francis of Assisi, ‘To be understood and to understand’. Each day I have tried my best to understand my staff and students. It is not easy and I pray to God that he may grant me that gift.”

This year, Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, Rector Major, has offered us a powerful strenna: “Let us cultivate the art of listening and accompaniment.” It has been very enlightening because it is a call to be present, humble, listen and accompany all young people, especially the staff and students at the Institute. The Preventive System of St John Bosco is something that I am challenged to understand, imbibe and live out in my life.

One of my favourite stories is the “Footprints in the sand” by an unknown author. In fact, I have that hanging in my office. Each day, I look at it and pray. It gives me a lot of confidence and strength to keep going. I often picture myself being carried by the Lord Jesus. With the Lord on my side, everything is possible even in the most difficult moments.

While I study the Preventive System of St John Bosco, I find myself challenged to reflect the essence of the system as espoused by St John Bosco. I realize that I need to study, understand, believe and put into practice the Preventive System. I need to live it out in my life so that my staff will do the same and together we will observe, feel and experience the Preventive System as a living system of education. Sadly, sometimes we use it as a system of convenience.

As the Principal of DBTI, I try to understand and walk with the students, pull them up, correct them individually by that ‘word in the ear’. I remind them of the expectations and policies of the school. I try to be present with them, during class hours and after class hours. I leave the comfort of my cool air-airconditioned office to be with the boarding students, after class, pray the Rosary with them and give the ‘Good night talk’ when requested or when no Salesian is around. I believe this is my journey.

The Preventive System of St John Bosco challenges me to be present with the staff and students, talk with them and walk around the campus both during the day as well as in the evenings and on weekends. In assuming the position of Principal of DBTI in September of 2016, I pledged to give my best in everything that I do and leave the rest to God. The journey has been and continues to be a very challenging one and I truly believe God has carried me on several occasions.

I thank the Lord and Don Bosco for this gift and grace. I pray that together we will understand, believe and live the Salesian Preventive System of Don Bosco for the good of our young people of Papua New Guinea.







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