Auki (Agenzia Fides) - Mgr. Peter Houhou is the first native Solomon Islander to be appointed as Bishop in the Solomon Islands. As Agenzia Fides learns, the diocese of Auki, Malaita province, has in fact been the protagonist of a historical event: in the Cathedral of St. Augustine the ordination of the first Catholic Bishop of the nation was celebrated in recent days. An important step forward for the local Church.
The celebration was presided over by Archbishop Kurian Mathew Vayalunkal, Apostolic Nuncio of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, and concelebrated by Archbishop Christopher M. Cardone OP, of the Archdiocese of Honiara and Archbishop Douglas Young SVD, of the Archdiocese of Mount Hagen, in Papua New Guinea.
"The Holy Mother Church entrusts you with three important responsibilities: teaching, sanctifying and governing the people of God", said Archbishop Vayalunkal, addressing the new Bishop during the homily. The Apostolic Nuncio also thanked Mgr. Houhou’s family of origin and the whole local community "for the precious gift of this son" and invited everyone to "pray and support Bishop Houhou".
The liturgy of episcopal ordination was characterized by local cultural rituals. There were many signs that enriched the rite: Bishop Peter’s whole family, from Marau, East Areare and Ulawa, presented him to the Church, in the presence of Archbishop Vayalunkal, in front of the whole assembly visibly moved. In the solemn Eucharistic celebration the various deaneries and parishes of the diocese of Auki were represented: the faithful of the whole diocese participated with great spiritual intensity.
The new Bishop paid homage to his predecessors, all Bishops who were missionaries: Mgr. Gerard Loft, SM and Mgr. Christopher Cardone, OP. He emphasized the commitment of Marist missionaries and diocesan priests who "built the church and fortified the faith of the population of Auki". In particular, Mgr. Houhou mentioned the first two local priests, Fr. Michael Aike and Fr. Donasiano Hite'e, urging the local Catholic community, citizenry, government institutions to "work in a spirit of communion to strengthen the faith in the Solomon Islands" and "to seriously face the challenges and problems present in society". There was no lack of expressions of gratitude towards the many missionaries, faithful, organizers who made this historic event possible. (SS/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 22/10/2018)