Sol is the last outstation of the Tente Pastoral Area. The parish priest is Father John Wenambo, who has served this pastoral area for ten years. The culmination of a week-long celebration was the blessing of the newly reconstructed church building and the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation.
We left Mendi and drove for about an hour and a half, traveling through the majestic mountains of this picturesque part of the diocese. Because of the heavy rains the night before, we decided to leave the car along the side of the muddy road that became increasing impassable. In the mission team were Br Jonathan William, OFM Cap. (Custos - of the Capuchin Friars of Papua New Guinea / Solomon Islands), Br Peter Warea, OFM Cap., (who had served for 9 years in this pastoral area and was instrumental in bringing peace after a devastating tribal conflict several years ago); Br Alfred Turik, OFM Cap. (serving as pastoral assistance at St Felix Parish, Pangia - and who served as the photographer for the day); Steven Kongop (diocesan seminarian) and Bishop Donald.
The group was welcomed at a Lutheran village along the way by at very colourful group of men and women dressed in the traditional attire of the Morobe Province. They led us forward with traditional dance, singing and the beat of the kundu drum. Closer to Sol, we were met by the youth of pastoral area, who presented a creative welcome song. Finally at the gate of the outstation mission area, the women of Sol presented another warm welcome song and traditional dance. They let us to the door of the church.
Fr Robert Gigmai, parish priest, invited Bishop Don to cut the ribbon of the newly rebuilt church which was placed under the patronage of Saint John Vianney - patron saint of all priests.
Immediately following, when all was ready, the Holy Mass began with great reverence and solemnity. The Rite of Blessing the Church began this holy celebration. The water used was blessed and then both the Church as the People of God and the church building were sprinkled by the bishop with the holy water. The celebration was made even more joyful becasue it feel within the Octave of celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord.
In his homily drawn from the Scriptures of the day, the bishop spoke to the Confirmation class about how the Apostles were frightened and unsure after the death and resurrection of the Lord.... but how they became strong and valient after they received the Holy Spirit of the Risen Lord at Pentecost. After the homily, the Rite of Confirmation began. Over fifty mainly young people were present to receive this Sacrament in which the young people receive the outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit - enacting another Pentecost. The main rite of this Sacrament is the Prayer and the anointing of the forehead of each person with the Sacred Chrism which had been blessed by the bishop at the Chrism Mass during Holy Week.
The celebrations gave witness a very vibrant Chrstian community in this remote corner of the Diocese of Mendi. The Spirit of the Risen Lord is still alive and active in the Church in every corner of the diocese. Let's continue to pray that the young people who have received the Gifts of the Holy Spirit will follow the example of the Apostles and early disciples of Jesus and become His witnesses to the ends of the earth... beginning with Sol!