Saturday, July 31, 2010

Summing Up ... Winding Down ... Signing Off

The outline of the MAST program for 2010 rendered in Bro. Tim's "Chalkboard 8.0"

Summing Up . . .

Rooted in Christ: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believe in him may not die but have eternal life." John 3:16. The vertical axis of the cross reminds us of God's desire to be in relationship with his people going back to the covenant with Abraham. In the mystery of the incarnation and the resurrection, we encounter God's love made flesh for all eternity. As St. Athanasius said more than 1500 years ago: Christ became man so that man might become God.

The horizontal axis of the cross calls us beyond selfishness to personal conversion and a life in communion with our brothers and sisters. "We love because God loved us first. We cannot love God, whom we cannot see, if we do not love our brothers and sisters, whom we have seen." 1John 4:20

Radiating to Eternity: The life that we live now ripples through time and eternity. Faith and knowledge must complement each other if we are to live in truth. Morality, what it takes to live a good life, and discipline, the cost of real freedom, express our commitment to the truth of Christ in our daily life: "He who said 'I am the way,' shapes us anew in his own image." St. Gregory of Nyssa; "All the way to heaven is heaven, for he said 'I am the way.'" St. Therese of Lisieux

Winding Down . . .

Before heading home to the US, we "kidnapped" Bishop Chris for some forced relaxation at Palm Cove in far northern Queensland, Australia. Since everything is reversed in Australia, people go north in July to escape the winter!

Rest and relaxation, time to share both prayer and good food, and some quality family time for the Cardone brothers made our few days in this beautiful place worthwhile in so many ways.

Signing Off . . .

The adventure is over. The bags are unpacked. Yet so many memories and impressions linger from the wonderful experience of the past seven weeks. We hope that you have enjoyed sharing them with us, and we thank you for your support and prayers.

How do we bring it all to a conclusion? I think that these words from the Jesuit theologian Teilhard de Chardin that I discovered while reading one rainy afternoon in Uhu put things in the right perspective for all of us on the value of "Solomon time:"

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.

We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We would like to skip the intermediate stages.

We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.

And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability-- and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you; your ideas mature gradually-- let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undo haste. Don't try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow.

Only God can say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be.

Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.


May the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit be glorified in all places through the Immaculate Virgin Mary!

May all our journeys bring us closer to to the Lord and to each other. Thanks for taking to the road with us. Blessings on your own journeys.
Fr. Tom & Bro. Tim

A Place of Peace

Fanualama, which means "Place of Peace," is the name of Diocese of Auki's residential property. Besides Bishop Chris's house, the campus includes a conference room, a rest house for the priests of the diocese, a convent for the Dominican Sisters, houses for some of the diocesan workers, and the chapel of Our Lady of Fanualama, Our Lady of Peace. Fanualama is indeed a tranquil place, although it can be very lively at times thanks to the many young children of the diocesan workers who live and pray alongside the bishop, priests and sisters.

The Chapel of Our Lady of Fanualama is at the center of the little community. Mass is celebrated each morning, and in the evening young and old gather for evening prayer and rosary. The Dominican sisters have taught the youngest children all the prayers, and they can even sing the Ave Maria in Latin.

Three Dominicans: One of the other visitors to Fanualama during our stay was Sr. Judith Lawson, the new Prioress of the Dominican Sisters of Australia and the Solomon Islands who was making her first visit to the Solomons. With Sr. Judy and Bishop Chris is Sr. Jenny, the superior of the community of three young sisters in the St. Rose of Lima Convent at Fanualama.

Good News In Education

St. John the Evangelist School in Dala is part of the good news of Catholic education in the Solomons. The school was founded by the Marists in the 1950s. Like all the schools in the Solomons, St. John's became part of the government education system at the time of independence in 1978. As we have noted, government supervision of the schools has been a disaster, and in recent years the churches have assumed responsibility for running schools once again.

In February 2009, St. John's at Dala became the first Catholic school in the Diocese of Auki. In January 2010 a community of three Marists returned to bring a distinctly Catholic environment to the school. Remarkable things have happened in the past two years. The high school has added four new classrooms and a science center, all built by local Dala craftsmen. A grotto to Our Lady of Lourdes has been restored and art work has been added around the school grounds. Responding to the school's new motto of "Faith & Responsibility," both attendance and behavior have improved significantly, and higher achievement has followed. The students at St. John's are looking forward to great things!

Two Marianists and a Marist: Bro. Philip is from Malaita and is pleased to be pioneering Catholic education on his home island. The similarities between the Marists and the Marianists, both known officially as the Society of Mary, are many, going back to the foundation of both congregations at the same time in post-revolutionary France. Like Fr. Chaminade, Fr. Colon, the founder of the Marists, had a missionary heart. While Fr. Chaminade's mission was to re-Christianize his homeland, Fr. Colon answered the call for missionaries to go to Oceania, the last area of the world to receive the Gospel. Both Marianists and Marists have always seen education as one of the most effective means of evangelization. The martyr St. Peter Chanel is the best known of the courageous and faithful Marists who left their homes in Europe to bring Christianity to the islands of the Pacific.

How to "Motu"

The traditional Solomon Island method of cooking is known as "motu." First stones are heated in a fire. Using paddles and large wooden tongs, the stones are arranged in a circle. Peeled root vegetables (yams, sweet potatoes, cassava, or taro, the local favorite) are placed in the circle of hot stones.
The potatoes are covered with a layer of hot stones forming an oven.

Finally, banana leaves are layered over the whole thing in alternating directions to seal the motu oven. The leaves preserve the heat and also add some moisture to the process, resulting in potatoes that are both steamed and roasted.

After several hours, the stones have cooled, the process is reversed and the roasted potatoes can be removed. The final results are delicious -- soft and moist on the inside and delightfully smoky and crisp on the outside. Fish wrapped in banana leaves is also cooked on the stones, as are the local "puddings," a polenta-like dish made by grinding potatoes with coconut milk and steaming them among the "motu."

If it seems like these ladies are doing a lot of work for a simple meal, consider that before they can begin this cooking process, they have to dig up the potatoes, cut and carry the firewood, gather banana leaves, build a fire and move all those stones several times. Think of this the next time you stand impatiently in front of the microwave waiting for 2 minutes to pass!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lilesiana Sunday

We spent our last Sunday in the Solomons (July 18) at Lilesiana, a village of 1200 people adjacent to Auki. The LangaLanga people who live in the village are fishermen and boat builders, and the village is built above a shallow inlet like a tropical Venice. Many people paddled to Mass in small wooden dugout canoes.

Besides the sea, the people of Lilesiana love music and laughter, and a visit to the community is always filled with joy and song. The Mass was no exception; a beaming Fr. Tom was literally dancing at the altar during part of the Mass.

Fr. Tom and a band of altar servers. The bearded man in the background is Abraham, the village catechist. Because there are no priests residing in most villages, the faith communities are led by laymen like Abraham who lead daily prayers and instruct the children in the faith.

Local "wildflowers" decorated the altar.

To Jesus through Mary: Bro. Tim and some young supporters of the Marianists

The choir at Lilesiana led by Stephen and his brother Stanley
Small World Note #3: When we turned on the radio Sunday morning to get the news, the song playing was "Change of Heart," performed by Mr. Alex Basile and the students of Kellenberg Memorial High School. The CDs by the Kellenberg musicians are very popular here. "Cover" versions of their songs are performed in many different churches, and the songs are often requested on the national radio station's gospel music programs.

Auki Town

The Auki Wharf bustles with people, trucks and ships.

Auki town with a population of 4,000, is the 3rd largest town in the Solomons after Honiara and Gizo. The town centers on the wharf where ships and barges arrive almost every day loaded with passengers and cargo, and the adjacent market. People flock to the market for fresh produce, the daily catch of fish and the latest news. About dozen shops offer rice, the favorite food of the Solomons and a variety of cheap Chinese goods and secondhand clothing. Auki is the capital of the island province, of Malaita; government offices provide most of the employment in the town. The only paved road on the island begins at the wharf and extends about 10 km to the airport. Electric lines run along the main road as far as the hospital, about 3km. Mobile phone service is available, but the villages in the hills surrounding the town are still communicating using drums and conch shells. Schools and churches make up the rest of the services in the town.

Kilufi Hospital, the only hospital on the island, serves a population of 150,000 people with only 2 doctors. The dedicated staff of nurses does the best they can, but only the most basic medical services are provided and medicine is always in short supply. When sick or injured patients can get to the hospital, they must bring their own food and bedding. In the fall, a team of volunteer surgeons from the US will visit Auki with a mobile operating room, the first such visit in many years.

The newest and largest building in the town is the prison, a monument to misguided foreign aid. The state-of-the-art prison, constructed across from the decaying structures of the Auki primary school, was built by the Australian government as part of their program of promoting law and order. The prison cost 70 million Solomon dollars, enough money to build almost 200 news school buildings. The prisoners have a higher standard of living than almost everyone else on the island. One more irony: the first "prisoner," a youth arrested for stealing, escaped within hours by shimmying up a light post, climbing out on the arc of the lamp, and dropping over the razor wire fence to freedom!

The Auki Market

The churches are the most vibrant and active institutions in Auki. After the shops and the government buildings, the road is lined with churches: the Anglicans, the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Assembly of God, the South Seas Evangelical Church, the Seventh Day Adventists. The Cathedral of St. Augustine (below) center of is the Catholic life for the town and the diocese.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Parting Shots from Uhu

Simon Says "Do This": Fr. Tom created something of a craze among the children with this simple game. Every child over 3 is now able to say "Do-dis." It took a while for some kids to get the gist of the game, but night and day they never got tired of playing. Fr. Tom used the game as the theme for his last homily in the packed Uhu church-- Jesus says "do this."

The choir for the closing Mass at Uhu. Besides the guitar, accompaniment was provided by conch shell and traditional wooden drums made by hollowing out a log. All the songs were sung in the people's local language using a melodies and a distinctive style of harmony that was brought by some of the earliest Marist missionaries 100 years ago.

St. Peter, along with St. Paul the patron of the church, surrounded by some of the beautiful local flowers and leaves. The pink hibiscus blossoms are very common, but the tiny white orchids seen above St. Peter's left shoulder are very rare and grow in the bush. Solomon Islanders are just beginning to cultivate these and other unusual orchids for sale and export.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

O Captain, My Captain

Captain Morro and a young pilot bring us safely home to Auki.

One of the legends of our visits to Auki is Lui Morrosini, known to all as Captain Morro. For more than 10 years Morro has been the driver of the bishop's boat all around Malaita. Morro has accompanied Bishop Chris and his predecessor, Bishop Gerald Loft, on all their pastoral visits to the villages of the diocese, and is often referred to as the "auxiliary bishop of Auki," the eyes and ears of the diocese. Morro knows everyone and all their stories, stories he relates with a master raconteur's skill and timing. Morro likes nothing better than talking and laughing long into the night. A great-hearted man with a very hearty laugh, Morro's best stories are always told at his own expense.

Morro has been a great friend to the Brothers during our visits to Auki, our guardian and protector on sea and land. He proudly wears his Marianist "uniform," the yellow shirts we leave behind after each MAST program, on special occasions. A talented singer, Morro eagerly awaits the arrival of a new CD from the Kellenberg students and then teaches the songs to the young people in his village.

Here's a classic Morro story: Back in the late '90s, he was driving an Australian priest around the diocese for a renewal program. In one village a man named Francis insisted on serving as translator from English into the local language called LangaLanga. (This is Morro's language as well.) Unfortunately, Francis's English was not very precise. At one point in his talk, the priest described how a thousand years ago monks were already telling the story of Jesus as missionaries. Francis told the congregation that a long time ago monkeys in the trees knew how to speak about Jesus. The people were confused but listened politely. At the end of his talk, Father announced that their would be an all-night vigil in the church. Later in the evening hundreds of people arrived. Father was delighted at first, but the people were soon disappointed, even disgruntled. Francis had told them there would be all-night videos!

Morro and friends with Bishop Chris's "canoe," the John Paul II and its 40 horse engine.

School Matters

Quality education is one of the greatest needs in the Solomons. Decaying classrooms, a surging population of children and far too few trained teachers create an almost desperate situation in most places in the country.

Uhh village takes education very seriously and in the past few years they have built a high school and expanded the primary school. The classroom above from the expanded primary school is considered to be of a very high standard in the Solomons. Even with all this support and development, the classrooms are overcrowded. The students sit on the floor; the desk in corner is for the teacher. The lists of sounds and words you can see on the wall are the chief means of instruction. There are very few books in any school. Younger students learn by rote repetition. Older students copy their lessons into small notebooks. Chalk, when it is available, is the most advanced teaching technology.

Even more serious is the lack of teacher preparation. There is no university in the country. The Solomon Islands College of Higher Education (SICHE) offers a two-year certification program for teachers, but the college suffers from the same lack of resources as the village schools. The "trained" teachers are not nearly enough to staff the schools, so the government pays hundreds of "untrained" teachers, basically young men and women who have just finished high school and are willing to stand in front of a classroom, sometimes only for the salary.

Despite these enormous obstacles, many teachers and parents are committed to improving education. Dedicated and creative teachers display enormous ingenuity in creating the resources they lack. Parents are looking to the Church to take leadership in education, and, like the people of Uhu, are using their own resources to build and develop schools. Everywhere there are bright young people eager to learn, if only there were teachers to bring them the knowledge they crave. The future of the Solomon Islands depends on these children, but their schools and government are failing them in so many ways.

Some of the schoolboys of Uhu in their classroom.

There are some signs of hope. Thanks to the initiative of Bishop Chris and the support of so many of you, our MAST program has brought encouragement and development to some these struggling teachers. A clearer sense of the mission of Catholic education is growing throughout the Solomons, with both teachers and parents recognizing their responsibility for the quality of education in their villages.

Please pray for these efforts, but, more importantly, pray for all those children.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Three-Hour Tour

One afternoon during our stay in Uhu, we set out with Captain Morro for a "Gilligan's Island" style tour of the the AreAre Lagoon, enjoying the scenery and visiting a few of the dozens of small islands that make up the lagoon. According to Solomon "kastom" (custom), you need to ask permission of the people who own the islands before visiting them, so we stopped at a few villages along the way to make this courtesy call. Most of the islands are uninhabited, but sometimes a few families live on a small island and have to carry fresh water back from the mainland each day in their wooden dugout canoes.

Solomon Islanders will visit the islands to fish or search for fruits and greens, but never just for swimming. Lounging on the beach and splashing in the sea for relaxation are definitely a white man's idea of a tropical afternoon. While Fr. Tom and I enjoyed the beach, Morro and our local guide Stephen went into the bush and gathered a few coconuts.

MAST Workshop in Uhu

July 11-15: Thirty teachers and members of the Uhu community joined us for the MAST workshop in southern Malaita. Many other teachers were unable to attend because of the difficulty and expense of travel. A gallon of petrol, when it is available, costs about $100 Solomon dollars ($15 US), almost a week's wages for a teacher. Most of the teachers from outside the village walked for many hours to get to the workshop. Some brought their babies and small children along.

Bright-eyed and bushy-haired -- one of the younger participants in our workshop.

Teachers in the more rural places like Uhu and south Malaita are often isolated and lack even the scant resources available in the larger towns like Auki. The participants in our program this week, like Sr. Margaret from Rokera and Gorrethy, a nurse and health educator (below), were very eager to learn as much as they could from us and from each other. Questions overflowed from the classroom into breaks and lunch, and then to after-dinner sessions on the veranda of the house where we were staying. Almost 200 people from the village joined us on the evening when we showed a film about Mary's apparitions at Fatima in 1917 called The 13th Day.

One of the most popular features of the workshops over the years are the "door prizes." At the end of each morning's sessions small prizes like stickers and markers are handed out by pulling numbers and comparing them with the registration list. This is a technique that I learned from Sr. Melanie Swaboda at a Chaminade faculty retreat years ago. Besides being a lot of fun after a long morning's work, the door prizes teach a good theological lesson. Grace, Sr. Melanie explained, is like a door prize: You can't earn it, you don't have to buy a ticket, you don't need to know the right answer. You get it for free, but you must be paying attention and be present to win. And like grace, there are more than enough prizes for everyone.
Since this was the last workshop for this year, we pulled some "grand prizes" on the last morning and gave away all the supplies from the program: our inflatable globe, a big bag of office supplies, all the extra stickers, etc. The "grandest" of prizes came at the end. The lucky number could choose between a poster of an icon of the crucifixion or a bag of gold leaf which had been used to explain about icons as sacred images of the holy and windows into heaven. (When the gold leaf had been passed around earlier in the week as part of the lesson, everyone had been nearly ecstatic to touch real gold.)

Hicksley, the young man in the maroon shirt at the center of the photo below, was the lucky winner but he was faced with a difficult choice -- choose the cross or choose the gold. He deliberated a few minutes while everyone shouted advice. In the end, Hicksley choose the cross and I gave him the gold as well. Now there's a theological lesson for us all. Choose the gold and you may loose the cross. Choose the cross and the gold will follow. Not a bad way to end our MAST workshops for this year.

Jubilee Mass

July 10: Before leaving for Uhu, we joined Bishop Chris and the community at St. Augustine's Cathedral in Auki for Sunday Mass. In honor of Fr. Tom's silver jubilee as a priest, the youth of the parish had prepared a joyful and festive liturgy featuring lively and spirited music and dance. The parishioners were delighted to have their bishop and his "real-brother' concelebrating Mass. Afterwards, just about everyone in the congregation lined up to shake hands with us and offer Fr. Tom their congratulations.

"Through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory
and honor is yours, Almighty Father, for ever and ever. Amen."

At the Mass, Fr. Tom was surprised with the gift of a chalice and patten presented to the Auki community in honor of his 25th anniversary as a priest. Thanks to Bro. Richard for organizing this gift which was "smuggled" into the Solomon Islands wrapped in my rain gear.

Back in Business

A good internet connection has been established. Look for more new posts in the days to come.

Monday, July 19, 2010

More to Come

The internet connection here at Auki is slow and cranky this morning, so I'll sign off with this shot of some of the youngest residents of Uhu in their Sunday best. When we get a better connection we'll have more tales to tell and lots more photos to share.
We hope your summer days have been as richly blessed as our time has been. From what we hear it's been cooler here in the tropics than for all of you on East Coast of the US. Peace and refreshment to all!

UHU Village

Two boys fishing at the entrance to Uhu village.

Sunday, July 10: After Mass at St. Augustine's Cathedral we climbed aboard a "canoe" for the four hour trip on the sea to Uhu village. Our trip was relatively smooth, and we arrived in the village about 3:00 in the afternoon.

Uhu is at the southern end of the Are Are lagoon. The sheltered waters of the lagoon offer good fishing and safe places for building houses and many small villages line the shoreline of Malaita (known as the "mainland") and the numerous barrier islands that separate the lagoon from the Pacific Ocean.

Uhu Island is home to about 100 families (700 people). There is no electrical power or mobile phone service. Water is piped over from the mainland to about 6 taps along the shoreline. Every morning, the "rush hour" is of children hurrying down to the taps to fill up a variety of bottles and jugs with the day's water. In the late afternoon, the taps are busy again as everyone gathers for their "swim," the local term for a wash-up. The families of the village live on the food that they grow in their gardens and on fishing. Dozens of pigs and chickens are a vibrant part of the community, wandering about freely all day long. At home we'd call them "free-range," but here they're just neighbors. Most of the homes are built of bamboo and palm leaves. We were lucky to stay in the house of Sirach and his family, one of the few wooden houses in the village. A solar battery powered one light for the house. Most of the villagers depend on kerosene lamps or their cooking fires for illumination.

When we arrived, Peter, the village catechist, greeted us and told us that the people were eagerly anticipating Sunday Mass. Uhu is at the southernmost part of the parish of Rohinari, and the priest is only able to come once every month or so. When the bell rang, people started coming from all over the village and the leaf church was soon filled to overflowing with even more people standing outside. The young people of the village had prepared a beautiful liturgy with all of the songs and Mass parts sung in the local language of AreAre. Everyone from small children to the very few older folks joined in the singing with great gusto. After Mass, everyone wanted to shake hands with the visiting white-men (arriko in AreAre). Fr. Tom kept asking the children "What's your name?" All they would do is echo back in reply "What's your name?" All week long as Fr. Tom walked through the village cries of "What's your name?" would greet him from every side.

Who's Counting?

Please note:We've been out of internet reach for quite a while, so I'll date these entries as we go along to give you a better sense of how things have transpired over the past few weeks. -- Bro. Tim

July 9: Bishop Chris got up at 4AM to make this cake as a surprise for my birthday. I'm not saying how many more candles should be on top, but I have heard that birthdays celebrated on in another hemisphere and on the other side of the International Date Line do not count in your place of origin. With that "discount" the total would be well below the half century mark when I return home.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Pictures from the Don Bosco Workshop

"Rooted in Christ, Radiating to Eternity" is the theme of this year's MAST workshop. This young Sunday school teacher from Holy Cross Cathedral certainly looks happy with the cross that she made as part of the program.

Just a few of the 133 teachers who attended the workshop with their MAST certificates.

Salesian Fr. Ambrose, the rector of Don Bosco Technical Institute in Honiara, with Fr. Tom and Bro. Tim. Fr. Ambrose has been a great friend to us in the Solomons, providing publicity, encouragement, food and shelter to the Brothers. When we arrived in early June, Fr. Ambrose helped us to retrieve (rescue would probably be a better word) eight boxes of books and supplies for this year's programs from the Stygian depths of the Solomon Post Office. After much hassle (and, of course, waiting) we were able to carry away all of our parcels, but only after paying a $100 Solomon "storage" fee!

By the Truckload!

After a typical series of Solomon-style delays, we arrived in Honiara early on Sunday afternoon and were met at the airport by Fr. Ambrose, a Salesian priest who has been a good friend to the Marianists and Project MAST since our first visit to the Solomons in 2003. We settled in at the Don Bosco Technical Institute where our next program would be held beginning on Monday morning for Catholic teachers from around the Honiara area. The teachers in this area have been very highly motivated by earlier MAST Programs and a Catholic Teachers Sodality has been organized for the past few years. We were told to expect a good size crowd for our workshop, even though the dates included Solomon Islands Independence Day on July 7th.

Monday morning at 8 AM (American time!) the hall was ready and our registration table was set up. Teachers began arriving, and arriving, and arriving. Two busloads came from town, and then a pick-up truck filled to the brim with teachers from St. Joseph's School in near-by Tenaru. By 9am when we were ready to begin our program over 130 teachers had registered, the biggest crowd ever for a MAST workshop. Among the participants were quite a few teachers who had taken part at the very first teachers program that Bro. Ken and I gave at Kukum in 2003. There were teachers from all around the Archdiocese of Honiara. A dozen teachers had made the long journey from the island of Makira, famed for the quality of its bananas.

Happily, the hall at Don Bosco was large and well-ventilated so the crowd could be accommodated comfortably. There was even an excellent sound system so we did not have to shout to be heard by the large group, a good thing since the school is just across the road from the airport. We used a similar program to the themes we featured in Gizo, and the teachers responded very well. Cypriano Nu'ake, the Catholic education secretary, and Sr. Seselia, the moderator of the Catholic Teachers' Sodality, had asked us to speak on the topic of conversion. We used a small pamphlet based on St. Benedict's call for a change of life and change of heart. The group sharing was so intense that the teachers even delayed lunch time for more discussion.

Monday and Tuesday were full days from 8 in the morning until after 4 in the afternoon. Wednesday, the 32nd Solomon Independence Day, we began with a wrap-up session followed by Mass and a closing program. As always, everyone looked forward to receiving his or her certificate, but I was busy to the last moment "calligrahying" all the names! After a round of speeches and lunch, the teachers ended with a sports tournament. Teachers old and young enjoyed a friendly round of basketball and volleyball. The emphasis was much more on fun than on competition and peals of laughter and cheers resounded through the hall.

We celebrated Independence with a pot-luck supper from among all the residents of the Don Bosco compound. Besides us and Fr. Ambrose there were two volunteers from Australia, Carol and Jessica, several of the young teachers from the school and visitors from around the country who were attending a media seminar. No hot dogs or sparklers, but we shared "independence" stories and customs from India, Australia, Papua New Guinia, and the US and toasted the "peace, joy, progress and prosperity" that the national anthem of the Solomons hopes for the young country.

Thursday morning we flew to Auki -- right on schedule this time-- in Solomon Airlines 8-seater plane. This is like flying in a van with wings and I'm always amazed when it can take to the air and then stay there. Fr. Tom was praying the rosary during the half-hour flight, so we were truly flying on a wing and a prayer. Bishop Chris met us at the airport, along with the usual contingent of chickens and pigs.

Today, we're settled into Fanulama, Bishop's Chris's house, and enjoying being at our Solomon "home" for a few days. On Sunday we're off to the southern part of the island of Malatia for our next program.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Ad Multos Annos -- Fr. Tom's 25th Anniversary

. Father Tom with some of the faithful altar boys of Gizo: Desmond, Chris and Adrian.

On July 5th, Fr. Thomas Cardone celebrates the twenty-fifth anniversary of his ordination as a Marianist priest. In those years Fr. Tom has served his Marianist Brothers as Assistant Provincial and Provincial. His priestly ministry has touched thousands of lives at Kellenberg Memorial, Chaminade and St. Martin de Porres Marianist School. We thank Fr. Tom for his witness of fidelity and charity, for his spirit of cheerfulness and simplicity, and for his service to the Church on Long Island and throughout the world. We pray that God will bless him with many more years of fruitful ministry.

"May the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit be glorified
in all places through the Immaculate Virgin Mary."
A prayer used by Marianists from the days of Fr. Chaminade

"Do whatever He tells you."
The motto of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade