From the Rector

Dear Friends,

During this time of the year, all Catholic parishes, schools and agencies, as well as families and individuals, are invited to contribute to Project Compassion.  Its purpose is to raise awareness of the basic needs (food and water, shelter, health, education, jobs…) of so many people in need throughout the world.  The financial contribution goes a long way towards assisting individuals and communities in many parts of the world.  Our College is an active participant in this project.

And in the last few days, we have received a request from the Australian Salesian Missions Office to contribute to an Appeal for Fiji, following the destruction wrought by the recent cyclone.  No doubt we will respond, even if in a limited way.

Many years ago I was the Director of the Salesian Missions office.  I remember many heart-wrenching requests from missionaries in developing countries for help in desperate situations.

More recently, when I was reflecting on this constant flow of requests and appeals, I came across an article in an English periodical that attracted my attention.  The title of the article was: Religious children are more selfish than children from non-religious backgrounds.

The article was based on a research project conducted in several countries, involving 1,200 students aged 12 years (more or less our grade 6 or 7 in Australia).  (And, by the way, Australian children were not included in this research).  The research compared “religiosity and altruism” in a group of children from Christian and Muslim backgrounds with a similar group from no religious background at all.  This latter group scored more highly in altruism and generosity than the group from a religious background…People from both sides challenged the conclusions of this research.  There are, of course, many factors that influence altruism and generosity, or selfishness and greed (family, culture, tradition, geography, history, school… are some of these).  So, I would not rush to conclude that all children, everywhere, from a religious background lack generosity and altruism!

On the contrary, my experience is that children are naturally generous, and that religious beliefs and practices enhance this natural tendency and provide additional motivation.  And I believe that ultimately children learn the quality of giving, generosity, sensitivity to the plight of others, un-selfish kindness, responsibility for those in need, in their families and culture of origin.

It would be a good idea for families to discuss these values with their children, especially during this time of Lent.

Fr Frank Bertagnolli, SDB
Rector

Tropical Cyclone Winston: relief efforts in Fiji

Suva, Fiji, 25 February 2016 – Just half an hour ago electricity was restored in our area since Tropical Cyclone struck the Fiji islands on Saturday (20 February).
In the early afternoon of 20 February, the winds began to intensify. By sunset it was terrifying to see the winds and rain bend huge trees, snap branches, rip roofs from buildings, tear through vegetation and dwellings.
Since the low depression developed into a cyclone about two weeks ago, Tropical Cyclone Winston showed it had a mind of its own, like no known cyclone. It moved south between Fiji and Vanuatu as a category 3 cyclone and headed towards New Zealand. Winston then made a sudden u-turn and started to move towards Fiji, then changed direction and hit the Kingdom of Tonga. It passed Tonga, and decided to make another u-turn, hit Tonga again… and made for a direct hit on Fiji. Meanwhile, Winston had now become a category 5 cyclone and Nausori and Suva were in its path, close to the eye. Then another change of direction when it made landfall and struck the east and northern parts of Fiji’s main island, Viti Levi. The destruction in these remote parts of Fiji was merciless. So far 42 reported dead, and many villages are wiped out leaving survivors utterly devastated. Suva had some damage but it cannot be compared to the wrath Cyclone Winston unleashed in other parts of Fiji. One of our close friends described Cyclone Winston as “the most un-behaved cyclone.”
At Don Bosco we lost a few trees, and debris littered everywhere. When the cyclone abated on Sunday morning, the confreres walked to the surrounding areas visiting families of our Sunday School students, supporters and friends of the Salesians. Even though Suva was without power since the cyclone struck on 20 Feb, we still had class at the seminary. Meanwhile, we intend to visit badly hit areas and see how we can assist the people to rebuild their lives and homes. Thanks to you and the many confreres for your prayers and concern for the people of Fiji.

Fr James K. Hoe, SDB

Interested in supporting victims?

Read the latest communication regarding support for victims in Fiji of Cyclone Winston.