A Narrative History of the Salesian Presence in PNG
In June 14, 1980, the first Salesians, headed by Fr. Valeriano Barbero together with Fr. Rolando Fernandez and Br. Joseph Kramar arrived in Araimiri upon the invitation of Archbishop Virgil Patrick Copas, MSC, DD to run the St. Peter’s Vocational School for non-selected students.
In 1981, Fr. Joseph Savina and Fr. Oscar Zamora arrived in Port Moresby upon the invitation of Archbishop Herman ToPaivu to do something for the non-selected boys of the National Capital District.
In 1985, Fr. Valeriano became the parish priest of the Orokolo region and thus expanded the Salesian services in the Gulf Province.
On May 24, 1993, Br. Simon Naime, a past pupil of Araimiri made the religious profession making him the first Salesian of Papua New Guinea.
In 1994, Fr. Angelo Fazzini was sent to Vanimo to establish an agency school. With him were Brs. Roberto Bidana and Noel Sumagui. In the same year, three other significant events happened: Fr. David Buenaventura and Br. Ramon dela Cruz started the foundations of an agency vocation school in the Diocese of Kundiawa for Year 10 school-leavers; in Gabutu, instead, Fr. Dennis Meim was tasked to take charge of the new parish of Mary Help of Christians with Vavukori to Pari as its territory of responsibility; and on July 28 of the same year, Fr. Valeriano was appointed the first Delegate of the newly established Delegation of Papua New Guinea.
In 1995, the foundation stone for the new delegation house was laid and blessed in East Boroko. The next year Fr. Valeriano moved into the new delegation house.
In 1997, Fr. Alfred Maravilla and Br. Simon Naime headed the Savio Haus which was relocated in East Boroko to serve as the aspirant of the Delegation. Two years later in February 15, 1999, in the same compound arose the Don Bosco Technological Institute. Fr. Arnold Sanico, Fr. Agustin Maciano and Br. Ramon dela Cruz composed the Salesian community that administered the Technical Teachers College (now the Don Bosco Technological Institute).
On August 9, 1999, the Delegation experienced the death of one of its pioneer Salesians, Fr. Joseph Savina.
Our Salesian Charism
The SGC indicated two conditions for the realization of “our own specific mission”: The first was to allow ourselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit in rediscovering our father’s Charism, in participating deeply in the life of the Church, and in responding to the appeals of the young. The second is to be willing to follow new paths and new options. Six years later the GC21 perceived that in our evangelizing mission among the young was to found the fundamental characteristics of our identity. But how are we to evangelize the young? GC21 appealed to two priorities: first the Salesian community as the subject of the mission and animator of numerous apostolic forces, and the second an educative-pastoral project. The GC22 completed the revision of our rules and gave “inspirational criteria for our activity and works” (Const. 41). The GC23 aimed at verifying the efficacy of Salesian education with regards to the life of faith of the youth. The GC24, on the other hand, sought to unite all our apostolic forces with our lay collaborators in continuing the mission of Don Bosco.
We are in PNG as a community with a distinctive Salesian characteristic: the preventive system. We run educative institutions with human, religious and social values. We evangelize by educating, combining catechetical, academic and technical instruction – all taken as integral to the educative program. We focus on the vocational, technical and skills training to form Christian workers. We foster practical ecumenism and help defuse anti-Catholic feelings by accepting non-Catholics. We help people by providing more opportunities where students can choose to continue their education and training. We are also present in two parishes where we serve the people through a diocesan center, the primary schools, social services, adult literacy programs, the BEC and the festive oratory.
With Don Bosco’s charism, the Salesians contribute to the growth of the Church in PNG in the new millennium. To this end