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Melanesian Messenger Online distributed by the
Church of the Province of Melanesia
DOVNC Bishop visits Penama
June 30, 2009

Bishop James Ligo used his June 2009 Episcopal tour of Penama province in the Diocese of Vanuatu and New Caledonia to reiterate his strong desire to make the Diocese a peaceful and harmonious one where people can work, share together, plan and shape their own destiny.

[Melanesian Messenger - Melanesia] Bishop James Ligo warned his people of the Diocese of Vanuatu and New Caledonia that strong leadership is needed to build up a good vibrant community of Christian people.

This is the main message he shared during his Episcopal tour of Penama from June 20 - 28, 2009. His tour covered six main centres of Wanur on South Pentecost, Atanonboaboa on North Pentecost, Navorovoro on Maewo and Lovonda on east Ambae. He also visited two Church institutions; Torgil Rural Training Centre and St Patricks Vureas High School on north Ambae.

The Bishops delegation comprised of the Diocesan workers including the Mission Secretary Fr. Keith Mwele, Youth Coordinator Fr. Benjamin Tosiro, the Diocesan Secretary George Hinge, Diocesan Treasurer, Samuel Kenneth and the Mothers Union Worker Edith Willie. For the first time members of the two religious orders; Sisters of the Church and Society of St Francis also joined the delegation with the Melanesian Brotherhood. The Sisters of the Church and the Society of St Francis only have offices in the Solomon Islands but not Vanuatu. They were represented by the Sister Provincial Sr. Kathleen Kapei and Brother Hartman Dena and Br. Ezekiel Kelly. Dean of Studies of Bishop Patteson Theological College in Solomon Islands Fr. Keith Joseph was also part of the team. He was there purposely to work on the proposal for theological education to be run in the Rural Training centers in the future.

During the visit the Bishop ordained 25 deacons, 32 village priests, confirmed 204 children and installed a number of lay preachers and catechists.

At Wanur he consecrated a new Church building dedicated to St. Barnabas. The Bishop who visited Wanur for the first time in three years after his consecration and as the fifth Bishop of Vanuatu said he was impressed with the work and commitment shown by the people in building of their new Church. The Church of God continues to grow in the Diocese because of such dedication and commitment by Christians despite the very many challenges that hinders the desire to build up the kingdom of God.

He also shared this message at North Pentecost where he launched a new sub-district of Anuwalu. Anuwalu used to be part of Ahivo district but increased population and villages created the need to have a new sub-district to serve its current population of close to thousand people.

At Navorovoro village Bishop James Ligo officially launched a new region of Maewo. The launching was marked with a tree planting ceremony of a coconut palm. Speaking at the launching the Bishop said “the young coconut palm tree symbolizes the new life of the new region and challenged them to work harder.”
The Diocese through the meetings, conferences and synods have recognized the need for which Maewo has longed to become independent but warned that they will have to work extra hard.

“We have a long road ahead to build up the region of Maewo. Are we prepared?,” he questioned.

Chief Joseph Balango agreed that the new road is tough. The people of Maewo therefore needs to forget about their differences and walk hand in hand together.
“The priests must play their part and so are we the people,” he said.
Narovorovo has now become the headquarters of the new region. Maewo used to be part of Ambae region whose regional headquarters was at Lolowai on north Ambae.

At Lovonda in Longana district the Bishop paid a special visit to the gravesite to pay tribute to a local prominent businessman Joe Mala whose life and example has contributed to the development not only to Vanuatu as a country but also to the Church. Joe Mala is a businessman who owned more than 30 trucks, several lorries, tractors and 4 ships, a huge plantation and commercial properties that provides employment for a lot of people not only on Ambae but other islands in Vanuatu as well.

“This is a real picture shown to us people of Vanuatu that development and prosperity can only be achieved through hard work.We must not depend on the government for rural development. Its time we till the soil and plant trees and crops.” He encouraged the people of Lovonda and Vanuatu to walk the path this humble man from Ambae has walked.

On the last day of his tour, the Bishop commissioned a new water project for Torgil Rural Training Centre. The Project is funded by the One Tree Hill and Orewa Rotary Club of New Zealand with a provision of 12 plastic tanks which have been placed around the campus supplying freshwater to staff and students. The project was initiated by a member of the club who earlier visited the school and found that water has been a major problem there.

The Bishop thanked the club on behalf of his diocese and the Church as a whole for the hard work taken by the club in sourcing funds as well as installing the tanks themselves. He later that same day visited St. Patricks Vureas College where he met and talked with staff and students and shared an evening of fellowship and celebrations which also marks the conclusion of his visit.

People of Penama honored the Bishops visit with feasting, dancing and special traditional ceremonies. He encourage them to continue to uphold the good work they do in the different roles and responsibilities they hold within their communities, the regions, the Diocese and the Church.

The Bishop attributed Christian societies today to the bible story ‘Jesus calms the storm’ on Lake Galilee when the strong winds and seas challenged the disciples.
“Leadership in the Church and societies today is just like that therefore strong leadership is needed on our Church today.”

He also stressed the importance of establishing and strengthening ecumenical relationship in the Diocese. This he said is good for spiritual enrichment that allows people to share together and co-exist in harmony. He also called on the newly ordained spiritual leaders to uphold these important relations in order to strengthen and harness spiritual growth and development among different churches.

The Bishop also reminded young people of Penama to be wary of the things that destroy their life and alienate them from God. He said young people can become good followers of Christ if they make stronger their prayer life, practice good Christian values and live by the good cultural ways they are brought up in. He said he was happy to be with his people to share with their joys, challenges and difficulties in the fast changing rural societies in his diocese.