Early this year, during the third visit to Vanuatu by Fr. Greg and Fr. Alfred on February 22nd-27th 2023, a Memorandum of Agreement was signed on February 25th stating that the first Salesians will arrive in 2025. As part of the preparation of this Salesian Mission, Bishop Jean Bosco suggested to the provincial if the Salesians could take part in the organized National Catholic Youth Gathering in December. The provincial agreed. He, then, delegated two Salesians, Fr. Pedro Sachitula and Moise Paluku, both members of the provincial council to attend the gathering and do possible administrative initiatives.
The Salesians arrived respectively in Port Villa on the 9th and 11th December, while the week-long camp opened on the 10th December 2023 with the Eucharist presided over by Bishop Jean Bosco and in the presence of many civil authorities such as the Prime Minister, the minister of education, of Youth and Sport and many other political representatives. 1500 Catholic youths were expected from the 6 vicariates of the Diocese, but due to a Cyclone that recently hit the islands, some had difficulty with transportation. The two Salesians were introduced and welcomed warmly by the participants in the camp. “We are glad that we are joined by the sons of Don Bosco who soon or are already part of our diocesan and to join and inspire our youngsters with their presence and sharing” said James the chairman of the organizing committee. Moreover, in his welcoming remark, Bishop started: “we are now assured that many young people here and, in the islands, who are loved and created in the image of God, will also have the chance to experience the love of Jesus and Mary in the style of Don Bosco like thousands more in the world”.
The gathering had as theme: “Jeune Homme or Fille, Je te le dis, Leve toi” (Young man and girl, I say to you, rise up,” Mark 5:4. Every subtopic for the six days had a catechism part accompanied by life integration talks such as the oversea workforce, climate change, small business, health and common deceases in the country, etc. The Saturday morning was dedicated to the presentation of the Salesians of Don Bosco, their work in the world and in PGS. The day started with a vibrant animation by Fr. Pedro and ended with unstoppable interesting questions. This led us to understand the eagerness of the youth of Vanuatu to start a new experience in the diocese with Don Bosco. “When precisely are you coming?” “Who will have to opportunity to be part of yout program?” were some of the questions.
Our days in Vanuatu were decorated with visit to the upcoming Don Bosco compound, with the ongoing renovation of the St. Joseph, 2nd Lagoon, Catholic church. There was opportunity to meet with the Vanuatu Labor Commissioner, who in her great hope cannot wait any longer to assist the Salesians in whatever need they may have. The team met also the Minister of Youth and Sport, his “Directeur General” for possible liaison or collaboration in our youth center activities, the Minister of Education and his DG from whom we learnt the difficulties the country is facing in education and in which area the Salesian education system could contribute. For the technical information, we met the Vanuatu Qualification Framework Registration authority, and the Principal of the Vanuatu Institute of Technology (VIT). From this visit to the country of Vanuatu, “we hope the PGS provincial council will determine the next visit and the official date of our presence in Vanuatu.” Fr. Pedro who is also the vice provincial explained too: “we are happy and satisfied of our visit to this particular country and this gives us a picture of the youth people of Vanuatu, the renewed expectation of Bishop and the possible foreseen challenges we have to face.” “There is a great hope for vocation and a successful mission expecting us. We entrust all to the Madonna, the Help of Christians, who have guided and thought St. John Bosco, that she may bring to reality this dream,” he added.