A new Samoan presence for the Salesian SistersWritten by Sr. Margaret Bentley FMA
January 13, 2013 marked the opening of a new community for the Salesian Sisters in Samoa. On the main island of Upolo, above the capital city of Apia there is a growing community of people seeking safety from the sea and the constant threat of a tsunami, those looking for a cooler place to live in an era of climate change and those seeking to find a home for extended families.
It is here in Malololelei that the Archbishop of Samoa-Apia, Archbishop Alapati Mata’eliga has invited the Salesian Sisters to begin the educational project of early education. They will take the direction of the fledgling preschool and begin the establishment of a Primary School. The Parish was established several years ago under the patronage of Divine Mercy and the local residents, many of them Catholic, have steadily increased. There is already a vibrant Youth Choir and the Sisters will assist with the teaching of Catechism in the Parish and the establishment of a Children of Mary group for the girls.
The closeness of the community to the city centre – about a 20 minute drive and to the National University of Samoa means that the Sisters will also be able to continue Tertiary studies while the school is being established. For the time being the Sisters will live in a house provided by the Parish until a Convent can be built close to the school.
The excitement of a new beginning has permeated the Sisters Province of the South Pacific. Sr Caroline Tevaga, the newly appointed Community Leaders expressed their thanks.
“We are all excited about the beginning of this school year. School will begin on the 4th February as we need to complete some preparation for the safety of the students. The recent rains have slowed up the buildings and the playground is only mud at the moment. The director of Catholic Education was so happy to see the place for the first time and so positive about our presence. We have a great challenge ahead of us to get the school registered with the Government authorities. We are so grateful to all our friends and the communities who have sent books and pencils and sports uniforms and stickers and posters and games for the children. They will not start with much but what they have has been given with love. Thank you also to all who sent donations to help us begin.”
The Community has been put under the patronage of Blessed Laura Vicuna, a past pupil of the Salesian Sisters in Chile who dies at a young age as a result of domestic violence. Her simplicity and joy, similar to that of St Dominic Savio is an inspiration to young people to come close to Christ in the Eucharist and to turn to Mary, the Help of Christians for support and inspiration.
Apart from Sr Caroline Tevaga, who takes on the roles of Community Leader and Principal, the community consists of Sr Folola Sala, who will direct the Pre School and Sr Sovita Paulo who will begin as the Year 1 teacher. Sr Margaret Bentley the Provincial of the Sisters has entrusted this new work to the prayers of the older sisters of the Province, whom she says are a great powerhouse for good through their prayers and sacrifices.
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