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Fr Guillermo Basañes visits Samoa during measles epidemic

On 19 November, Fr Guillermo Basañes, General Councillor for the Missions, began his visit to the Australia Pacific Province (AUL) with a visit deemed successful to the Pacific island nation of Samoa. The visit featured a number of wonderful meetings and moments of animation. It was, however, tinged with an air of sadness as Samoa is currently experiencing a measles epidemic that has claimed at least 70 lives, mostly children under the age of two. There have been over 4700 cases (as of December 9, 2019) of the measles reported and new cases are being reported every day.

The Samoan Government has declared a State of Emergency and closed all schools. It has even urged parents to keep their children home from church on Sunday. Consequently, this has meant that Fr Basañes has been unable to interact with any of the young people and students in Samoa. It has, however, provided more space and opportunity for Fr Basañes to meet and enter into lengthy discussions and talks with teachers, cooperators, FMAs and SDBs.

It is Fr Basañes's first visit to the Pacific and to the AUL Province and he is accompanied by Lauren Hichaaba, Delegate for Mission Animation for the AUL Province.

The visit began on the island of Upolu. Fr Basañes celebrated Mass in the Salesian Parish of Leauva’a, only hours after arriving. The rest of the day was then spent with the community in Alafua. He was warmly welcomed with true Samoan hospitality. The following day, Fr Basañes celebrated Mass with the Salesian cooperators, FMAs and SDBs. It was a joyful celebration with a beautiful mass and lively conversations. The visit in Samoa continued to the remote island of Savai’i. Once again, in the absence of students, he was able to spend time with the teachers at Don Bosco High School and Vocational Training Center in Salelologa.

The visit continues to the other parts of the AUL Province, namely Fiji and Australia. “We are grateful to Fr Basañes for his dynamic visit and we hope to welcome him again soon in Samoa so that he will have an opportunity to interact with our incredible young people,” Mrs Hichaaba said.

Please remember Samoa, and most importantly the young people, in your prayers as they struggle to bring an end to the measles epidemic.

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