By Lauren Hichaaba, Provincial Delegate for Missionary Animation
Apia, Samoa, 21 November 2019 -- Fr Guillermo Basanes, SDB, Councillor for the Missions, has begun his visit to the Australia Pacific (AUL) Province with a very successful visit to the Pacific Island Nation of Samoa. He was accompanied by Lauren Hichaaba, Delegate for Mission Animation for the AUL Province.
It is the first time for Fr. Basanes to come to the Pacific and to the AUL Province. The visit to Samoa has been full of wonderful meetings and moments of animation. It has however been tinged with an air of sadness as Samoa is currently experiencing a measles epidemic that has claimed at least sixteen lives, most of whom have been children under the age of two. There has been over 1,100 cases of the measles reported and new cases are being reported every day.
The Samoan government has declared a state of emergency and closed all schools. Is has even urged parents to keep their children home from church on a Sunday. Consequently, this has meant that Fr. Basanes has been unable to interact with any of our beautiful young people and students in Samoa. It has, however, provided more space and opportunity for Fr Basanes to meet and enter into lengthy discussion with our teachers, Cooperators, FMAs and SDBs.
The visit began on the island of Upolu. Fr Basanes celebrated mass in the Salesian Parish of Leauva’a only hours after arriving. The rest of the day was then spent with the community in Alafua. He was warmly welcomed with true Samoan hospitality. The following day, Fr Basanes celebrated mass with the Salesian Co-operators, FMAs and SDBs. It was a joyful celebration with a beautiful mass and dynamic conversation. The visit to Samoa continued to the remote island of Savai’i. Once again, in the absence of students, he was able to spend time with the teachers at Don Bosco High School and Vocational Centre.
It has been a wonderful start to a visit that will continue to the other parts of the AUL Province, Fiji and Australia. We are grateful to Fr Basanes for his dynamic visit and we hope to welcome him again soon in Samoa so that he will have an opportunity to interact with our incredible young people.
We ask the Salesian world to please remember Samoa, and most importantly the children, in prayer as they struggle to bring an end to the measles epidemic.