PGS, 8 Decmber 2022 -- 5 December 2022, liturgical memorial of Blessed Philip Rinaldi, was an important day for the Salesian Family in Melanesia. It marked the profession of the first VDB in Melanesia. Here she shares her story.
Initial information about the VDB
After I obtained my license as an Engineer, I decided to study education because I wanted to embark on a new career path as a teacher. Although I was greatly hesitant at first, I finally accepted the possibility to teach in a Salesian school in Papua New Guinea. Thus, educating the young has been my primary objective in coming to Papua New Guinea. It was as a Salesian educator that I grew more in love with the charism of Don Bosco. It was not anymore a matter of how much I could have but what I can do to help my students. It is through Don Bosco that I have grown much as an individual and as a teacher. My professional training and personal experiences as a Salesian educator have helped my physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual growth. I found my life mission in educating young people and form them to be better individuals and citizens. Gradually I learnt the different groups of the Salesian Family and I discovered as well that the VDB Institute allows me to live the consecrated life in the world and fulfil my life mission.
My vocational journey
While teaching I felt God’s love for me in a special way. He enabled me to meet Salesians along the way who introduced me to the VDB: Fr. Luciano Odorico and Fr. Dominic Kachira, introduced me to the Institute. Finally in October 2018, Fr. Alfred Maravilla, then Superior of the PGS Vice Province, helped me to better understand the VDB vocation which enabled me to clearly decide to follow Jesus. He was the first one who assisted me and introduced me to one member of the VDB in the Philippines. Fr. Alfred had presented to several Papua New Guinean ladies as well the VDB vocation hoping that we could form a group for the formation programme but after their initial interest none decided to start the formation programme. I did my 1st Year and 2nd Year Aspirantate under his guidance. It was not easy at the start, there were times that our schedules did not meet. But then slowly, I had my formation meetings with him which eventually became regular. When he was elected in the SDB General Council, he entrusted my formation to his successor, Fr. Greg Bicomong until I completed my 3rd Year Aspirantate and made my first profession on Dec 5, 2022.
Challenges to make the VDB vocation grow in Melanesia
I am very happy to be a bearer of Don Bosco’s charism as a VDB. I am also aware that it is a challenge to explain to local ladies that we VDBs have the same vows of chastity, poverty and obedience as the Salesian sisters, brothers, and priests. And yet, we live for and in the world as its leaven but not of the world. The main challenge that I see in the growth of the VDB institute in Melanesia is the culture among young adults who always think of what they can I get in exchange if they join the institute. I too had some ladies in mind, both locals and expatriates, but their initial interest did not mature.
I wish to continue my God given vocation as a VDB here in Papua New Guinea under the guidance of the Salesians. Surely the VDB is a unique and challenging vocation. I am convinced that there are women in Melanesia who are called by the Lord to this consecrated secular vocation. For now, it is in living to the full my consecrated secular life that I hope to attract other women to the Institute.
Prayers for this lonely VDB, with an intention for new VDB vocations in the Pacific!
Mary Help of Christians, Immaculate, our Lady of Lourdes and Fatima, pray for us!