Posted by Grace Wrakia on 15 July 2019


The Papua New Guinea Lasallian Family National Gathering 2019 was unlike any other. It brought together, Brothers, Teachers, Principals, Students, Staff Members, Alumni, Friends and Families as well as other Religious Orders. More than 300 educators and more than 200 students walked through the courtyard, halls and classrooms of La Salle Technical College, Hohola in Port Moresby from Sunday 30 June to Wednesday 3rd July.

La Salle Technical College in Hohola was the host for 500 participants and 25 presenters from all walks of life. For La Salle Technical College, this was its second time to host the National Gathering. For the PNG Lasallian Family, this was the 8th National Gathering, but with the inclusion of students, this event was the first of its kind. La Salle Technical College is now renowned by many PNG Lasallians as the 'Home of PNG Lasallians.'

The planning and preparation started in July 2018. A team of gifted, talented, experienced and selfless Lasallians responded to an invitation from the national office to form a steering committee. The committee worked long and hard for 12 months, including organising nine fundraising events to meet the costs associated with staging the event. The four NCD Lasallian Principals and Br Thomas Yapo, Sector Coordinator, were the backbone of this entire event. The collaboration between the Brothers,  the steering committee members and the NCD Lasallian Principals displayed the Lasallian solidarity in Papua New Guinea.

The theme was 'Prosperity through Christian Values in Education' which echoed the National Department of Education's 2019 theme of 'Citizenship and Christian Values in Education'. This theme was re-emphasised throughout the gathering by the keynote speakers and workshop facilitators. The main celebrant of the closing Mass, Arch Bishop Douglas Young, summed up this gathering saying, "being prosperous in life is more than being rich with money and power, prosperity is truly achieved when one becomes humble and powerless, when one gives up his or her whole self so that others reach their full potential in life." Arch Bishop Douglas Young challenged all present at the closing Mass to live the values of the Gospel.

Day one of the National Gathering had the theme 'For the Mission'. The first keynote presentation was given by Br David Hawke, Brother Visitor. Br David said that in order to move the Mission forward we must look back at the past 300 years. He gave a quick glimpse of the 300 years that have passed and ended his speech with a reflective question for all Lasallians "How do I foster the Lasallian Mission in PNG?"

Day one proceeded to separate sub-keynotes presentations for educators and students. Sir Br Patrick Lynch spoke to educators about 'Lasallian leadership amidst the challenges of the 21st Century' while Sebastian Duhau from Lasallian Mission Services spoke to students about '300 years of Young Lasallians'. Workshops were facilitated by Sir Br Patrick Lynch, Mr Kane Raukura, Br Alphonso Zoanetti, Miss Eli Aribi and Mr Dagia Aka, as well as former and current Lasallian Youth Ministers and Volunteers, Cameron Streeter, Akia Leana, Anton Haines and Maroun Azzam. Br Paul Toohey and nine PNG Lasallian Family members, all presented practical and interactive sessions. 

Day 1. Monday 1st July- For the Mission

Day two of the National Gathering had the theme "Social Justice in School". The day started with a keynote address by Br Ambrose Payne, District Professional Standards Officer, on the topic of "Safeguarding and Protecting the Rights of Young Children and Vulnerable Adults". Three officers from the National Department of Education later presented on the "Citizenship & Christian Values Education Framework".

Workshops facilitators included Br Rick Gaffney, Ms Amanda Proulx, Br Ambrose Payne, the Youth Ministry team from Tribal Foundation  (Mr Teio Mokirir and Mr Duylan Murry and Miss Ruth Kissam), the National Forensics Team of the RPNGC, Mr Fredrick Joseph of the Voice Incorporated and five other NGOs who set up Booths for participants to visit.

Day 2. Tuesday 2 July -Social Justice in Schools

The three-part-stage play in the evening was the highlight of the gathering. Students from Jubilee Catholic Secondary, De La Salle Secondary and Mainohana Secondary School dramatised the life of the Founder, the early years of the Institute and the history of the Lasallian Mission in Papua New Guinea. With music and song, the students creatively reminisced on the founding story, bringing tears and ovation from everyone in the audience.

The gathering ended with a beautiful Eucharistic celebration on Wednesday 3rd July. The main celebrants were his Eminence Cardinal John Ribat and Archbishop Douglas Young. Archbishop Douglas Young is a former student of the Brothers in Australia. He connected his memories of the Brothers to the significance of the Tercentenary and Year of Lasallian Vocation and challenged all participants to go forth and continue to teach minds, touch hearts and transform lives throughout Papua New Guinea.

Thank you to everyone who participated and all those who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make this event successful.


Author:Grace Wrakia
About: Papua New Guinea National Coordinator Lasallian Family PNG
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