The Catholic Diocese of Lae in Morobe/Papua New Guinea celebrated its golden anniversary on Sunday November 13, 2016. This historical phenomenon was witnessed by the faithful of many cultures at St. Mary’s Primary School grounds.
The Apostolic Nuncio of Papua New and Solomon Islands, Archbishop Kurian Matthew Vayalunkal, in the company of Bishops and priests, celebrated Holy Mass to bless the diocese and to thank the missionaries for the fruits of their labour in Morobe Province.
“We are gathered here to remember the 50th anniversary of our Diocese of Lae. This is the right occasion to remember the history of the Church in our country, PNG. We rejoice, we give praise, and we go forth.” Said the Apostolic Nuncio, during the homily.
Lae’s Bishop, Christian Blouin gave thanks to the pioneers of the diocese saying, “four pioneers of the diocese of Lae must be acknowledged at this occasion. Fr. Anthony Mulderink, who is one of the pioneers foursome is here is present to witness this occasion. So we wish to take this opportunity to thank him and his fellow Mariannhill pioneer brothers for their work.” The local ordinary, Bishop Blouin, extended this gratitude to all the people of good will, the locals and friends overseas, for being helpful to the diocese.
He (Bishop Blouin) recalled the early years of their missionary activities in Lae and Siassi Islands. He remembered when they didn’t have modern means of transport or communication. “I know pretty well the hardships and challenges the priests and sisters encounter,” concluded Bishop Christian Blouin.
The Vicar General of the diocese, Fr. Arnold Schmitt, said, “The main work of the early missionaries was education and formation of Catholic Christian families. And we have continued to do this by reading the signs of the time. For instance he added, “The growing number of street kids is worrying and we are trying to find ways of addressing this and many new challenges.”
The existence of the Catholic Church in Morobe Province goes back to the time after the gold rush in Wau and Bulolo in 1927. However, the Diocese of Lae started off with the mandate of Pope John XXIII on 18 June 1959 when the newly erected Vicariate of Lae was entrusted to the Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill (CMM).
In March 1960 the first four CMM priests arrived from the Netherlands. They were: the Fathers Gerard Hafmans, Bert Kempkes, Henry van Lieshout and Anthony Mulderink. By then the number of inhabitants in 1959 was about 187.000, and among them were approximately 1.750 Catholics. Over the period of 50 years the population of Morobe has increased to more than 616.263.
The four CMM missionaries began to explore the new mission fields in Morobe. They trekked for weeks over mountains and valleys, walked through rivers, forests and jungles looking for places to establish their mission station. Then they learned that the Lutheran Missionaries were already established everywhere, even among the smallest tribes. They also discovered that the MSC Missionaries from West New Britain had established a Catholic community, in Siassi Islands.
If 95% of the indigenous population was Lutheran, then mission work among pagan tribes was out of question. The firm idea grew that the primary task was the care for the Christians already present in then new mission territory that was initially evangelized by the Lutherans. The foundation of the Diocese of Lae is thus stamped with this ecumenical sensitivity.
Education was determined as the priority of the mission of the Catholic Church in the Lae Vicariate, all activities were focused on the project of building up St. Joseph’s Station and a technical school on a block of land at Lae/8-Mile. Thus the year 1964 became a year of constructions on the new station. A chapel was the last of 14 buildings erected in one year. Meanwhile St. Joseph’s Technical Training Centre was provisionally recognized by the Education Department. Other schools were St. Mary’s School in Lae and St. Martin’s School in the Papua Compound near the industrial centre and the harbour. On the Siassi Islands, a Primary School on Por Island next to Mandok Island. In Watut area, 30 km from Bulolo St. Paul’s School. St. Peter’s School in Bulolo in 1970 and Mariannhill School in Wau in the 1980ies.
In 1965 Fr. Henry van. Lieshout succeeded Fr. G. Hafmans as Vicar delegate and later as Vicar Apostolic of Lae. When the hierarchy was established in Papua New Guinea on November 15, 1966. Fr. Henry van Lieshout became the first bishop of Lae and was ordained bishop on March 5, 1967 in Lae. Bishop Christian Blouin, his successor, was ordained on May 5, 2007.
The first Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood arrived in June 1962. Other international congregations have since then come to Lae diocese: Little Sisters of Jesus, Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, Daughters of Mary Immaculate, Brothers of the Sacred Heart, Missionaries of Jesus; they are all very much involved in the fields of pastoral, social work and education. These missionaries are coming mainly from Germany. England, Ireland, Japan. Vietnam., Spain. Philippines, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa and Panama.
In the past years, lay-missionaries, from Australia and Europe have been very handy, their various skills substantially brought development in the Diocese.
The Diocese of Lae has grown from modest beginnings with less than 2,000 Catholics to more than 30, 000 at present. This work which was done by only missionaries 50 years ago, has also become the work of the local clergies and religious communities. Fr. Edward Suakau the first local clergy was ordained in 1988. More Primary and Technical Schools and a Vocational Training Centre for girls have been built, all staffed with P.N.G. teachers; the various departments of the Diocesan Offices are also managed by local staff. The same goes for the Centre of Mercy, and clinics for health care, which tries to eradicate the rapid growing epidemic of HIV/AIDS.
Over the past 50 years, Papua New Guinea, as whole, the diocese included, has undergone significant economic, social and political changes. The old tribal structure with its strong traditions, which had given the people support and stability in their environment, has for instance began to disintegrate. The Diocese of Lae will have to strive forward with new approaches of proclaiming, sanctifying and serving the Melanesian Missionary Church in Oceania.
After the joyous and beautiful celebration of the Beatification of Blessed Engelmar Unzeitig in Germany on September 24th 2016, the Confreres in the Zambia Unit took it upon themselves to bring Blessed Engelmar Unzeitig home, as it were. The rainy morning of Saturday 26th November 2016 turned out to be a joyous and solemn day for the confreres, for the CMM Associates and for those who work closely with them, when we celebrated a thanksgiving Holy Mass in honour of Blessed Engelmar Unzeitig at a venue prophetically chosen.
The event took place at Engelmar House of Formation in Lusaka, which is about 7km away south of the city centre. Blessed Engelmar House of Formation is currently the only House in the Congregation named after our beloved Martyr-of-Brotherly-love. In attendance were most of the Mariannhill Priests and Brothers working and living in Zambia, the Sisters of the Precious Blood, the local clergy and various Religious men and women from different orders, institutions and societies. The occasion was graced by the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Lusaka, Fr Oliver Mukunta who was the presider and homilist at the Eucharist.
In his homily, Fr Mukunta drew various aspects and qualities from the life, words, actions and attitudes of Blessed Engelmar Unzeitig which can help us as Mariannhillers and Christians as a whole to live our vocations and commitments faithfully and zealously. He also emphasized the need to embrace the spirit of Blessed Engelmar in our own time, place and situations, thus emulating him. During the same liturgical celebration, our eleven candidates currently living at Blessed Engelmar House of Formation and attending philosophical studies at Saint Bonaventure University college, were conferred with medals of Mariannhill Missionaries.
After the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, there was a festive get together lunch for all present. There was also an exhibition of pictures telling the life story of Blessed Engelmar Unzeitig. The documentary video was also shown and the confreres present answered questions and clarified some issues the attending guests had on this great servant of God. Entertainment (like a drama that showed the life of Engelmar) and other moments of interactions were provided for by the youths from the parishes our confreres work in or help out.
Indeed, Blessed Engelmar Unzeitig had arrived home!
Deacon Louis Mwange Chileshe, CMM
By Fr. Brian Nonde CMM
Fr. Roland Matoyi CMM, a Kenyan by nationality, celebrated the Friday Mass for the 29th Graduation ceremony of St. Therese Vocational Centre. During Mass, Fr. Matoyi told the students to make good choices in life. “There are many people who wanted to be where you are but they are not” said Fr. Matoyi in his homily. He then shared the following story with the young people that graduated on 25th November 2016:
“The head teacher at a certain high school once told me, that life is a journey of two roads. Every time one begins and completes an event in life, one finds himself or herself at a Y-junction road. There one has to make a decision on which road to take. One of the two roads to take is called ‘I don’t care’ and it leads to a big city called ‘I wish I knew’. Another road is named ‘I care’ and it leads to another city called ‘Here I am’. It all depends on an individual’s choice: you either follow the road that lead to the city called ‘I wish I knew’ and live a life of regrets or end up in the city ‘Here I am’ and live a life of contentment. ‘Here I am’, is a beautiful city that reached by following the ‘I care Road’ choices. And I tell you my dear friends, that ‘Here I am’, is a place which all desire to live in. So make good choices in life.”
Adding advice to this story, Fr. Matoyi told the graduands to make good choices in life. “Many want to study and to have the same opportunity as you have had” he said, “they wish to go through this form of education but due to various reasons they do not and they have not. Many envy you, so I urge you to be thankful and responsible as go out there in the society.”
St. Therese Vocation Centre started off as a training center for young girls who due to different circumstances could not go beyond grade 10 in 1986. It was established by the Missionaries of Mariannhill to provide skills such as catering, tailoring, office administration and computer skill. Today this center is recognized as a learning institution by the government of Papua New Guinea. It is currently providing vocational skills to 200 students every year.
St. Therese Vocational Centre is situated in Lae/Kamkumun suburb, next to it is a Mother & Child Health Centre called Centre of Mercy and St. Therese Parish.
At the service of the Lord and his people
Diaconal ordination of the missionary of Mariannhill Frt. Innocent Shava, C.M.M.
It was on the evening of September 10th, 2016, that the missionary of Mariannhill, Frt. Innocent Shava, C.M.M., was ordained deacon by the Bishop of Salamanca, Carlos López Hernández, in the parish church of Our Lady of Lourdes of that city. It is the very same new deacon who tells us here about the experience of that memorable afternoon:
“May Almighty God, from whom all grace comes ….” This is how the Ordination Prayer begins, as read by the Bishop of Salamanca, Carlos López Hernández, after having silently laid his hands on my head. With the central words of that prayer: “Send to him, Lord, your Holy Spirit so that, strengthened by your grace of the seven gifts, he may faithfully carry out the ministry”, I was ordained deacon of the Church.
I was long looking forward to this moment. Since childhood in Zimbabwe, where I was born, and then in Spain where I have been living for more than five years, I have witnessed various diaconal and presbyteral ordinations. On this occasion, however, I was no longer to witness the ordination of another but I was to live my own ordination as a deacon.
Many times I dreamed, both awake and asleep, to become a deacon/presbyter one day. I was convinced that it was the future that God had prepared for me as I was being formed humanly, academically and spiritually.
The night before my ordination I woke up three times thinking that it was time to get up. After the last time I said a little prayer of thanksgiving for all the people who came to my mind and who had helped and supported me in my vocation to be a deacon/priest one day. At the end I was able to fall asleep again.
After that long night of impatience September 10th dawned. At 7:00 pm on that Saturday my diaconal ordination took place in the church of the parish of Our Lady of Lourdes of Salamanca. All day before we had had time to arrange the many small details which were still pending.
I used the morning to prepare things in the parish church and rehearse the ceremony. My superior in Spain, Fr. Lino Herrero Prieto, C.M.M., and the parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes, Fr. Matías Prieto Espinosa, helped me to arrange the seats, mark the liturgical books, prepare the stole and the dalmatic, etc.
But I was not alone on that important day. From the distance and in spirit I felt myself accompanied by all those who saw me grow up in my family, in school, and in the seminary. I was fortunate to have at my side my father, who had come from Zimbabwe five days before to accompany me and to witness my diaconal ordination. I have to say that from the beginning my family had always supported me in my vocation and they feel very happy about the decision I have made.
Others were present and accompanied me as well: Fr Peter Nkomazana, C.M.M., provincial superior of Mariannhill in Zimbabwe, and Fr. Adrian Maqhawe Ndlovu, C.M.M., both of whom were then in Europe to participate in the beatification of Fr. Engelmar (Huber) Unzeitig, C.M.M., and in the sessions of the General Chapter of Mariannhill.
I also felt the community of the Missionaries of Mariannhill in Spain and the faithful of Salamanca very close to me. By this I knew that I would never be alone in this mission to which God has called me. Seeing myself surrounded by so many good people, my response to the call became even stronger.
Before the celebration, while the Bishop prayed in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, the priests vested in the baptistery, both of which spaces are located at the very entrance of the church.
The celebration began with a solemn chant in the Macua language [Mozambique] that invited the faithful, the priests, the bishop and me to put ourselves in the presence of God from the very beginning of the celebration. The rest of the repertoire of the celebration were songs in different languages: Spanish, English, Portuguese, Ndebele [Zimbabwe]. The wonderful interpretation of the repertoire was carried out by a choir composed of young people from the parishes of Saint John of Sahagún and Our Lady of Fatima, plus some Missionaries of Mariannhill.
After the entrance procession I stood next to my father to listen carefully to the biblical readings of the celebration. He, though he understood nothing, was not at all lost. I had already told him the readings that were to be proclaimed and he had read them previously at home.
In the homily, addressed to the whole assembly and to me in particular, the diocesan Bishop, drawing from the readings chosen for the celebration, stressed the gratuity of the call to the diaconal service. At the end of it the Bishop explained the meaning of the diaconate.
After the scrutiny or questioning that the Bishop addressed to me and, once I had made the promise of celibacy, I lay on the ground while the litanies were sung. While I lay prostrate, I thought of the Lord’s call and my surrender to Him. The invocation of the saints reminded me that only with the help of God’s grace could I fulfill what He asks of me.
Then the central moment of the celebration came when the Bishop laid hands on me in silence and invoked upon me the Holy Spirit with the Prayer of Ordination.
Now as deacon I was dressed with the stole and the dalmatic. It was no longer those clothes that I used to wear as a child when I dressed up as a priest, but true liturgical vestments that highlight the sacred function of the one who carries them. Another deacon and my father were in charge of putting the stole and dalmatic on me. Very happy was my father at that moment. Although we did not say anything at the time, his smile was speaking clearly.
Following the Ritual, the Bishop gave me the Book of the Gospels, telling me that I have to convert what I read into living faith, what I do in living faith I must teach, and I must fulfill what I teach.
While the Bishop gave me the kiss of peace the prayer of Abbot Francis Pfanner, the Founder of Mariannhill, was sung. With this prayer I was invited to understand what I am in the eyes of God, to know better the will of my God, to be united with God and to seek in all his glory.
Then I began to serve as a deacon, preparing the altar. I did everything with great enthusiasm, wondering if what had happened was real or was still a dream.
At the moment of sharing a sign of peace I went to greet each of the con-celebrants and I shared a strong and long embrace with my father. It was so emotional that I broke out in tears.
After Communion I gave a speech to express my gratitude to God and to all those who, in one way or another, had helped me during all formative stages.
After the blessing of the Bishop I dismissed the assembly with the words of the sending and the choir sang one of the typical Spanish versions of the “Salve Regina,” which brings me very close to the Virgin Mary.
I keep on thanking God for the gift of life and for everything he does for me, always trusting in the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Blessed Engelmar Unzeitig, C.M.M. So I will sing and preach the beauty of God’s love on the streets of my life.
Frt. Innocent Shava, C.M.M.
Missionary of Mariannhill
PHOTOS: ANGULAR PHOTOGRAPHIC STUDY [Spain]
On Saturday the 20th of October the Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill concluded its 16th General Chapter in Rome. The Chapter started on the 1st of October and had participants coming from all the 13 provinces and regions of the Congregation. We had 27 participants representing 15 nationalities. During this Chapter the delegates evaluated the religious, missionary life and activities of the Congregation in the various parts of the world and through a process of discernment and reflection sought God’s will for the Congregation. This was indeed a time of grace and renewal for all the participants and there is great hope that this message and spirit of renewal will filter through the whole Congregation and spur us to renewal and rejuvenation. The theme of the General Chapter was “Faithful to my call.” At the end of the Chapter in the liturgy the new Superior General with his leadership team were installed and given the mandate of the Chapter. All the participants were commissioned to bring the mandate of the Chapter to all our communities.
We thank you dear friends and relations for your support, prayers and good wishes especially during this time. We count on your continued prayers and support and we strive to be more authentic witness, being faithful to our call as individuals and as a community.
The new leadership team of the Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill. From left to right; Fr. Wenceslaus Kwindingwi from Zimbabwe, Fr. Michael Mass from Germany, Fr. Thulani Mbuyisa, the Superior General from South Africa, Fr. Patrick Chongo from Zambia and Br Hansel Jaison from Zimbabwe. We thank the Lord for the gift of this new leadership team. We ask you all our friends and relations to continue praying for this new team. May God give them the enlightenment and wisdom they need in their ministry. We count on your support, intercessions and prayers.