PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea, SEPT. 23, 2004 (Zenit.org).- In this Pacific island capital, where violence and crime among youth is rampant, Salesian missionaries intend to build a Marian shrine as a haven of peace and education for solidarity.
The shrine will comprise a new youth center and a church dedicated to Our Lady Help of Christians.
“I rely on you lay men and women called in particular to contemplate the face of Christ, learning from Mary,” said Auxiliary Bishop Cherubim Dambui of Port Moresby, as he addressed the crowds who gathered for the blessing of the land that will host Campus Don Bosco and the new shrine. The bishop was quoting from John Paul II’s apostolic letter “Rosarium Virginis Mariae.”
The Holy See is interested in the Port Moresby project and, through the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, has offered to provide support for building the facilities, the Fides missionary agency reported.
Among those present at the ceremony were Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, papal nuncio in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, and Father Francis Gustilo, Salesian provincial in the northern Philippines.
Archbishop Yllana congratulated the Salesian family on the decision to build a shrine in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary: “Don Bosco’s Salesians have always been involved in apostolate among young people with schools and other centers of formation. Now they are demonstrating another important aspect of the mission,” the Nuncio said.
“This shrine in honor of Our Lady Help of Christians will lead to genuine renewal in Christ, the goal identified by the Church in Papua New Guinea” during a recent assembly, the nuncio added.
Mary Help of Christians is widely venerated in this part of the world, as John Paul II recalls in the postsynodal exhortation “Ecclesia in Oceania.”
“In churches, chapels and homes,” he wrote in No. 53 of the document, “the image of Mary reminds people of her loving presence and her maternal protection. In parts of the Pacific region, she is especially venerated under the title of Help of Christians.”
Father Valerian Barbero, Salesian delegate for Papua New Guinea, who will follow the construction work, expects the building to be completed within 12 months.