Celebrating the Year of Faith with Renewed Spirit in the Diocese of Lae – Papua New Guinea

On November 24, 2013, on the feast of Christ the King, the Catholic Diocese of Lae celebrated the closing of the “Year of Faith” at the newly-built Catholic Diocesan Hall at St. Mary’s Primary School – Eriku, Lae.

Thousands of Catholic faithful from the different parishes and sub-parishes in Morobe Province gathered in jubilation to mark the closing of the Year of Faith as proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI last October 12, 2012.

The joyful thanksgiving celebration started with the Eucharist presided by Most Rev. Christian Blouin, CMM, Bishop of Lae. Parishioners from Sacred Heart – Aromot, Siassi led the colourful entrance procession followed by other parishes, sub-parishes and spiritual groups with their respective banners and the Year of Faith Cross that has visited all the parishes in the Diocese. The ceremony proceeded with the blessing of the new Catholic Diocesan Hall. Bishop Chris thanked the Swiss Province of Mariannhill through Fr. Arnold Schmitt, CMM, for funding the project and Alva Engineering for the construction of the building.

Expounding on the theme: “Know your faith, live your faith, share your faith and become evangelizers”, the Bishop in his homily, encouraged the Catholics of Lae to strengthen their faith especially as families alive in Christ. He added that “faith is an on-going process, the responsibility for which lies on each family – the true church”. He also expounded on the topic of communio as true believers in Jesus. As a concrete sign of communion, he acknowledged the presence of Bishop Giegere Wenge of the Evangelical Lutheran Church -PNG as well as representatives of other churches who were present during the occasion.

One of the highlights of the celebration was the renewal of marriage vows of couples while holding high the Year of Faith Family Cross after which the Bishop and the priests of the Diocese went around to bless the families.

The liturgy went on smoothly as planned. The combined choir led by Mr. Bernard Limoto was commendable. The Holy Spirit Parish did the Gospel procession while St. Francis (Wau) and Holy Family (Bulolo) took charge of the offertory procession. St. Anthony (Gubari) and St. John’s (Situm) led the recessional procession.

After the liturgy all the guests were invited to a sumptuous meal. All the faithful present were also treated to a good lunch to crown the experience of communion and fellowship.

The afternoon was dedicated to the presentation of activities and items showcasing cultural dances, action songs, drama, etc. from the different parishes and communities. Guests from other Christian denominations also gave their speeches, challenging the faithful to become one body in Christ regardless of skin color, tribe affiliations, and religious beliefs. It was an afternoon of fun and entertainment especially with the “angelic voices” from the “heven man na heven meri” choir of Buimo (CIS).

Bishop Chris in his closing remarks expressed joy seeing the faithful and our brothers and sisters from other denominations and faiths gathered together as a family to celebrate our faith. He thanked the preparatory committee and all those who contributed to this joy filled celebration for a job well-done.

One of the parishioners commented after the celebration: “It was indeed, a spirit-filled celebration”. With the presence of all clergy, the Lutheran bishop and pastors, religious men and women, and the faithful of the Diocese, in an atmosphere of overwhelming bliss, we take on the challenge to grow in our faith so that we can share it to others as joy-filled witnesses of the risen Christ.

By: Fr. Kirby Bagaslao, MJ