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  • Sr. Daisy Anne Lisania Augustine, MSC

At Gizo Installation, Bishop Houhou says Service is love in action

Gizo, Solomon Islands: As he was installed in the Diocese of Gizo on Sunday, Bishop Peter Houhou stressed the need for bishops and all Catholics to be of service showing love in action so that the Gospel will impact the culture and the Church will prosper.

"My dear people, there is nothing more important for a bishop than the care of souls in love," he said in his August 27 homily. "If the Church is to flourish in the world today, if the New Evangelization is to really take root, if we are to truly build a culture of life – holiness and service must begin with us."

The installation Mass began at 9a.m. local time in Gizo Cathedral of St Peter the Apostle.

Dozens of priests and few bishops processed up to the altar. Their procession was flanked by a beautiful dance from the diocese of Auki. Family and faithful brought bishop Peter Houhou to be presented to his new diocese of Gizo.

During this part of the Liturgy, Bishop Houhou was greeted at the main doors to St Peter Cathedral by Fr. Lawrence Kimaere, Rector of the Cathedral, together with Cardone, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Honiara, and presented with a crucifix to venerate.

Among the few bishops, and many priests in attendance was Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Fermin Emilio Sosa Rodriguez, the Vatican Ambassador to Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. As part of the Rite of Installation, the Nuncio read the Apostolic Letter of Appointment from Pope Francis.

Bishop Houhou was then guided by Archbishop Cardone to the cathedra. Once formally seated in the cathedra, Bishop Houhou was installed as the fourth Bishop of Gizo. He was welcomed by representatives of the people of the Diocese including parishioners, families, and clergy and then, in front of the altar, by representatives of other Churches, faiths and civic authorities.

The new Bishop of Gizo’s homily focused on service in the divine plan of God.

"Each of us is in the plan of God, no one knows the mind of God. The only thing is to listen attentively from the very ears of our hearts to the voice of God. It was not easy for me to get out of the diocese of Auki when I was only in my fourth year as bishop and when I was only beginning to get a grasp of the people and diocese"

"But the love of God is found precisely at the foot of the Cross and in obedience to his call I have to leave my familiar shores," he said.

Bishop Houhou then addressed each of the groups present: the bishops who preceded him, the priests and religious of the diocese and the laity.

He expressed gratitude for the diocese's "rich Catholic history" and the leadership of his predecessors Bishop Eusebius John Crawford O.P, Bishop Bernard Cyril O’Grady, O.P and Bishop Luciano Capelli S.D.B.

He thanked vowed religious men and women for their witness to Jesus and he called seminarians "a supreme blessing to the diocese."

He also had a message for the laity.

"You were made for greatness. We are all made for greatness. However true holiness begins with service in love which is love in action”

"Your greatest vocation is to holiness," he said. "Your holiness can transform the world."

Civic guests included the Premier of Gizo Honourable Billy Veo and his delegates.

Most Rev. Peter Houhou was born on October 10, 1966, in Marau, Guadalcanal. On July 3, 1999, he was ordained as a priest and was incardinated into the Archdiocese of Honiara.

The Diocese of Gizo is one of three Dioceses in the Solomon Islands and was formed from the Vicariates of North and South Solomons in the early 1960s. It encompasses three provinces: Choisel, Santa Isabel and western Province. It spreads over an area of 12,600 square kilometres, populated by 129,000 people, of whom approximately 14,000 are Catholics. There are eight Parishes with several Priests and Religious.

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