Honiara (Agenzia Fides) - The earthquake and tsunami tragedy in April left in its wake grief and devastation on the island of Gizo, Solomon Islands. Then arrival of the World Youth Day Cross and Icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary brought new courage and hope to the people. Now another joy has been announced: Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Salesian Fr Luciano Capelli as Bishop of Gizo, to take the place of Bishop Bernard Cyril O’Grady OP who offered his resignation to the Holy Father having reached the age of retirement.
Since 1999 Father Capelli, very popular with all the local young people, has been director of the Don Bosco Technical School in Honiara where he is involved in intense work of instruction and professional formation as well as many pastoral initiatives.
“Fr Luciano Capelli, by no means the first Salesian to live and work in the Solomon Islands, is widely recognised for the sheer energy and accomplishment of the years he has spent there, developing many aspects of the Salesian presence (in particular the Don Bosco Technical School at Henderson outside Honiara). Fr Capelli has also been noted for his ready and creative response to the many human and spiritual needs of the people of the Solomons, and recently his work to improve their health services ”, local Church sources told Fides. "In April when Gizo diocese was struck by an earthquake and tsunami, Fr Capelli put together a rapid response unit, drawing the admiration and heartfelt thanks of the people of that area, and the Government" the same sources said.
Fr Luciano Capelli was born on 19 October 1947, at Cologna in Tirano, Italy. In 1960, he joined the Society of Don Bosco and was sent on mission to the Philippines in 1965. Ordained a priest in Italy on 29 June 1975, he was appointed Director of the Youth Centre of the Don Bosco Technical School in Manila and stayed in the Philippines until 1999 when he was appointed Director of Don Bosco Technical School in Honiara, capital of Solomon Islands.
Gizo diocese has about 11,000 Catholics ( 10% of the population). The Salesian Fathers, schools, teachers, pupils in Solomons and throughout the Pacific are overjoyed at the appointment of the new Bishop. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 6/6/2007 righe 256 parole 24)