.- In the city of Gizo's Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle, 63 priests and religious from the Solomon Islands' three dioceses celebrated last week's Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul with a public renewal of their vows.
The ceremony concluded a nine-day retreat for the islands' priests, led by their bishops along with two members of the Marianist order from the United States.
Taking place from June 20 to 29, the retreat, which was the first of its kind in the Oceania island chain's history, gave the priests a chance to reflect on their vocation during the final month of the Church's international Year for Priests.
The renewal of vows by the priests and their bishops took place in Gizo's recently rebuilt cathedral, a structure which required complete restoration after the 2007 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the island nation. According to the local paper The Solomon Star, each of the priests and bishops paused to pray individually before a Cross and Bible in front of the congregation, as a sign of commitment to their ministry.
According to the global Catholic charity Caritas International, the Solomon Islands remain one of the least developed states in the world, with most of the population employed in subsistence farming or fishing. The country consists of nearly 1,000 individual islands, presenting challenges both for building infrastructure and for pastoral work.
In spite of these struggles, however, Catholic leaders are seeking to renew evanglization efforts in the region. The Catholic Church Solomon Islands website indicated that Bishop Luciano Capelli of the Gizo Diocese is pursuing a "permanent" campaign of "evangelizing everyone and everything" in his diocese of Gizo, with a special emphasis on solidarity between the Church and those in need.