FIJI: New community and learning space opens
300 people attend opening of new Don Bosco Youth and Education Center
(MissionNewswire) More than 300 people gathered together to celebrate the feast day of St. John Bosco and the official opening and blessing of the new Don Bosco Youth and Education Center in Suva, Fiji. The ceremony was presided over by Father William Matthews, superior of the Salesian Province of Australia.
During his homily, Fr. Matthews highlighted how the new center will be used to provide support for at-risk and poor youth in the region. While the local parish is still under construction, the center will also be used for Sunday Mass and parish activities. Fr. Matthews also extended his gratitude for Father Mikaele Leilua, the first Salesian parish priest of the St. John Bosco Parish, who oversaw the construction of the youth center until his sudden death in September 2021.
The Don Bosco Youth and Education Center will include a multipurpose community space, open areas for learning, a kitchen and dining area, a sporting and recreational facility, and a community garden. The idea is to make the center as self-sustainable and eco-friendly as possible. The project was funded by Australian Salesian Missions Overseas Aid Fund in collaboration with the local Salesian community in Suva.
“This project will help ensure that local youth have access to the kind of social development programs that will get them on the right path in life,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “The new community center will be a place for youth to gather with their peers, and access life skills training and educational support.”
Salesian missionaries have been a part of the Fijian community since 1999, primarily facilitating education for young Salesians from the Pacific region, as well as operating a local parish. During a visit in 2015, the Rector Major Father Ángel Fernández Artime expressed a strong desire to see the Salesian community expand to include a strong youth-focused outreach, which was a motivating factor for this community center project.
ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)