Visit from the Islands
On Thursday, our good friend Bishop Chris Cardone, OP stopped by for a visit. Bishop Chris is the bishop of the Auki Diocese in the Solomon Islands. A New York native, Bishop Chris returns to the states periodically to visit his family. He also has one other very important goal while he is over here, and that is to inspire enough donations of soccer balls so that every village in his diocese will have a soccer ball (that's almost 300 soccer balls!). He keeps little slips of paper in his pocket on which is the request for soccer or volley balls and his address in the Islands to which they can be sent. (See end of post for address!)
Bishop Chris' brother made some wonderful posters showing the vibrant Catholic life in the Auki Diocese. Although Catholics only account for about 26% of the population, there is only one priest for every 2,000 Catholics! Unlike in the USA, the youth make up the bulk of the Church in the Solomon Islands. Bishop Chris says that he is probably the only bishop who has to kick kids out of the church in the evening. There are always kids there, practicing music for Mass, decorating, etc. Bishop Chris was surprised to see a lack of flowers adorning altars in America, even on special occasions. In his diocese the girls spend about 4 hours on Saturdays going into the bush to cut different flowers and plants and then return to decorate the Church with them for Sunday Mass.
The youth also love soccer (hence the request for the soccer balls!). The girls are also now starting to get into the sport, which is played barefoot. Church soccer tournaments have become an ecumenical affair with even denominations hostile to Catholicism asking if their kids can participate.
If you'd like to donate a soccer or volley ball (they can even be 'used'), you can send them to:
Most Rev. Christopher Cardone, OP
P.O. Box A-13, Auki, Malaita
And here's a tip, if you deflate the balls you can fit more in a package! Wouldn't it be great if not only every village but every kid could have their own soccer ball?
You can find out more about the Diocese of Auki at this facebook page.