It was just after evensong, as formal goodbyes were being offered to visitors, that Sister Michael heard the squealing of a pig and learned that the animal was being slaughtered just off to the side of the worshippers for the pig roast that would follow. Such are feasts in the Solomon Islands.
This particular pig roast was the last of many celebrations marking the inauguration of the new province of the Solomon Islands in the Community of the Sisters of the Church, one of 11 Anglican religious orders in Canada.
Before September, the Solomons were part of the Australia/Pacific province but the province was divided in two – Australia and the Solomon Islands – to accommodate growth.
Three members of the Canadian province, sisters Margaret, Heather and Michael, the Canadian provincial (head sister), travelled to the Solomons to help celebrate the new province.
Friends and relatives from Guadalcanal (the island on which Honiara is located) and the surrounding islands also came, swelling the sisters’ gathering to more than 1,000.
The opening celebration began on Friday, Sept. 28, the Feast of St. Michael, the patron saint of the order. The Melanesian Brothers, in their native dress, piped Sir Ellison Pogo, Archbishop of the Church of Melanesia, up a hill with their pan pipes to the outdoor celebration. One of the community’s stray dogs even made it into the procession. Also in attendance were sisters from Australia and England and Bishop Norman Palmer (Archbishop Pogo’s predecessor) and Terry Brown, Bishop of Malaita (part of the Church of Melanesia). Bishop Brown is a former staff member of the Anglican Church of Canada.
The initial celebration included the blessing of the order’s new chapel – which was lavishly decorated with fresh flower wreaths – and its furnishings, including the lectern, altar, candlesticks and processional cross, all made from mother-of-pearl. The archbishop also blessed a baptismal font, given by the visiting sisters.
The following morning, the Canadians presented the order with letters from the primate, Archbishop Michael Peers, and Bishop Ralph Spence of the diocese of Niagara (their Oakville home is in the diocese) and with plaques commemorating the inauguration of the new province.
The inauguration also featured the blessing of Sister Doreen as provincial and Veronica, a novice, made her final vows.