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Salesian Sisters in Boroko


By Sr Ria P. Versario, FMA


Boroko, PNG, 18 October 2018 -- Sr Ria P. Versario, FMA arrived in Papua New Guinea on 4th August, 2016. She spent four months teaching Religious Education to the 2nd and 4th Year students. In 2017, she was the Spiritual Moderator at Don Bosco Technical Institute, Boroko. This year, 2018 she is the sister assistant, In-charge of the Mary Our Help Ladies Dormitory and Lecturer for Christian Living Education. She is passionate about educating the young in school and at the oratory.


In 1860 before meeting Don Bosco, Maria Domenica Mazzarello contracted typhoid. It made her physically weak, abandon the fields and undertake the profession of seamstress. She confided to her intimate friend Petronilla Mazzarrello; “As soon as we can manage by ourselves, we shall open a workroom, teach people to sew, but above all teach them to know and love God, make them good, and keep them away from so many dangers.”Later, she became the Co-Foundress of Don Bosco in the foundation of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and its first Mother General.


‘Let every stitch be an act of love for God,’ was the legacy of Mother Mazzarello. It is not about sewing but building a connection and establishing a relationship. It is about touching lives and bringing Jesus to them. It is about spending time with a person, listening to their story, helping them get reconnected with their family, listening attentively to personal problems. It is about being committed, dedicated, creative, understanding and patient when it comes to educating the students. Above all, it is about helping them make choices that are simple but profound. It is about empowering and caring for any person entrusted to our care.


Having just arrived in Papua New Guinea, I am learning the culture and I am open to surprises. With God’s grace, as I share my life with my students and boarders, and in turn, I learn through and grow through their joyful experience. Each one has a story to tell… and this is where the Love and Broom stories enter…..


It was because of love


One day, I met Ryce and inquired as to why she missed a lot of classes. She apologised and started to cry. She wanted to give up on life as her boyfriend was unfaithful to her. I listened and allowed her to pour out everything. As she sobbed, she shared her pains of the relationship. She wanted to give up her studies. I cried inside and asked myself, how many young people would just like to give up because of love, betrayal and other problems. What made me happy was when she promised to continue her study, forgive the guy, end the relationship and most of all, focus on the things that are most valuable at this moment of her life, complete her studies. She now has a smile on her face.


The broom she asked her parents to buy for their house


Behind every smile are problems and pain. Joy would laugh as if everything was okay. But speaking to her, she revealed that her parents work hard to give her a good education. The salary of her parents was not enough for the family. When she went home during the semester break, her parents gave her the best. She thought that she could have everything. She thought that the situation was alright as she never heard her parents complaining. But when she asked them to buy her a broom, as the old one was already shabby, her mother said, “We are on a tight budget and I do not have enough money for food and education of our children”. When Joy shared this with me, I listened. The next day, it all came back to me…. the heartache, the anxiety, the pain and the anger. I realized that my pillow was wet with tears, my eyes were blurred but in my heart, I knew, that these tears were tears of release, release from anger and pain that had always been hidden behind jokes and laughter. I felt stronger yet lighter. I felt peace knowing that there are people who care enough to listen.


For us Daughters of Mary Help of Christians who are in the mission to educate children and the young, we are continually challenged “to welcome them with that warm, sincere affection that gives them the joy of knowing that they are personally loved. We help them to mature in unselfish love through a purity that is radiant and liberating”.


Every act is sanctified when one offers it for the love of God and ones’ neighbours. Every act of love, goodness, and kindness brings a person closer and always connected to God.




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