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Pilgrimage to Rakunai inspires the young

  • Abigail Seta


Vunapope, Rabaul: The participants of the National Youth Convention (NYC) 2018 went on a pilgrimage to Rakunai, the home of Blessed Peter ToRot on Monday, 10th December 2018. 


The pilgrimage saw 260 plus young men and ladies visit Bl. Peter Torot’s (1912-1945) birth place, his burial site and the basilica that is dedicated to him. Journeying with the young people were John Cardinal Ribat MSC, Archbishop of Port Moresby; Bp Rochus Tatamai MSC, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands; Bp Rolando Santos CM, Bishop of Alotau and Bp Pedro Baquero SDB, Bishop of Kerema. 


A few kilometres away from the Basilica of Bl. Peter ToRot is Taunga, his birth place. They witnessed a customary welcome from the villagers of Rakunai. Following this, the pilgrims were then led to the cave at Vunaiara.  It was here that Bl. Peter was held prisoner and martyred for the Faith. Bp Rochus Tatamai then gave a brief history of how he died. 


The young people then walked to Basilica of Bl. Peter ToRot. Welcoming them at the basilica with a customary welcome was the Rabaul deanery. The Bishops, priests and the diocesan youth male coordinators received a first-hand taste of the ‘whip dance.’ 


At the packed Basilica the participants received materials and an in-depth history of Bl. Peter ToRot, man of the soil who has lived his life of zeal and dedication. His proclamation of the faith and commitment to live a monogamous marriage upset the Japanese. This resulted in his martyrdom.  


The Eucharistic was celebrated by Bp. Rochus Tatamai, MSC.  In his homily, he spoke on the life Bl. Peter ToRot and touched on vocations to priesthood, religious life and the single life. “The life of Bl Peter ToRot was down to earth.  As a child he was very humble and holy.  His life must inspire you to pray, sing and share with others. Be companions on a journey,” said Bp. Rochus. “Do something worthwhile with your life,” the bishop continued.  The liturgy was animated by the Rakunai male choir and the St. Augustine’s string band.   


Speaking to the youths, Bishop Rochus Tatamai spoke about the life of Blessed Peter ToRot as being a down to earth and very humble and holy person when he was a child growing up.

After the Eucharist, there was presentation of gifts to the dioceses from the different parishes in the Rabaul deanery. The program for the day concluded with a sight-seeing tour.  The group visited Matupit, the site where the first three missionaries of the Sacred Heart arrived on 29th September, 1884.  Across the bay they were able to get a view of Mt Tavurvur an active volcano.  The group then visited Rabaul. 

The day concluded with the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Many young people spent time in silence and prayer.  It was a nice opportunity to reflect on their lives, pray for themselves and their future and make their peace with God and hear the words, “Go in Peace’.  


“The young people were interested to hear and learn about the life of Bl Peter ToRot and visit important sites of his life.  Bl Peter lived his life as a trained catechist.  He stood firm to the gospel and was not shaken by the regime of the Japanese.  This is what caused his life”,  

said John Cardinal Ribat.  The Cardinal appreciated the faith of the people and commented that the visit of the youth has been an encouragement to everyone.


“Gratitude to Joachim Minio, Chairman of the Bl Peter ToRot Committee for organizing the day with a warm welcome, joining the young people in prayer, entertaining and celebrating with all our young people”, said Fr Ambrose Pereira SDB, SOCOM and Youth Secretary as he expressed his thanks for a very inspiring day.

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