Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas in the bush

A few days before Christmas I had a late night visitor, a catechist who traveled a long distance to come to Mendi.  He had a simple request.  He wanted me to send a priest to his remote community (named Imane) to celebrate Christmas mass.  In the course of our discussion he told me that there had not be a priest to celebrate any mass (not just Christmas mass) in this area for over three years.  My heart was moved with his passionate plea but also frustrated because I knew that there would be no priests free on Christmas day.  In fact, we still have several parishes in the diocese that do not have priests in them.  Then I got an idea (perhaps I should say an inspiration!).  I was to celebrated the Vigil Mass of Christmas on the 24th and then go to celebrate Christmas Day Mass in one of the outstations of the cathedral...  But, it just so happened that Father John Pfannenstiel, OFM Cap., the Mission Director of the Capuchin Province of Saint Augustine based in Pittsburgh, PA was visiting Mendi.  So, as it turned out, I asked him to celebrate the Mass that I was scheduled for and then I would be free to go to Imane to celebrate the first mass in three years.  (Fr John enthusiastically agreed to the proposal.  He celebrated much of the mass in Pidgin English and Brother Ray Ronan, OFM Cap., translated Fr John's homily given in English so that the people could understand it better.)

I set out very early Christmas morning.  My two guides Markson and Lukson were waiting for me on the road about an hour into the journey.  We drove for about another hour over very bad roads until we could not drive any further.  We left the car at a Health Aid Post run by the diocese and then began the rest of our journey on foot.

The natural beauty in Papua New Guinea is breathtaking and as we began our descent down the side of a rather steep mountain I was again not disappointed.  On the other side of the valley was a magnificent waterfall.  I wanted to just stand there and take it in... but my faithful guides knew that their community was waiting for us near the top of another mountain.

As we continued our descent Markson told me that we had to cross the river over a rope bridge.  When we turned one of the many scissor-back turns I saw what he was referring to.  While I was trying not to think about cross it - the two brothers told me that they have to carry all of their supplies and materials over this bridge; they also carry, 50 lb coffee bags, coffin boxes and live pigs.  Not only that, they have to carry women about to deliver their babies and other sick people to the closest Heath Aid Post.

I must confess that I was a bit frightened.  Markson went first and showed me how I should take the steps and how I needed to crouch down in the middle of the bridge because the hand-ropes were lower there.  Lukson walked behind to give me words of encouragement.  I found that I had to look straight ahead, because looking down at the rushing water gave the impression that the bridge was swaying and made me a bit dizzy.  In my younger days, I probably would have said that it was fun.  Suffice it to say that it was exciting!

When I got my legs to stop wobbling, we started our steep ascent on the bush track up the side of the mountain.  From their conversation, I could sense the anticipation growing in both of my young companions.  We finally got to the top of the mountain and then continued for about another 45 minutes.  As we drew closer, to the village I heard the familiar beat of the kundu drums and the traditional chanting.  Hundreds of people formed the joyful welcome march with several men dressed in traditional attire leading the group.  The Mama's Group was also part of the welcome festivities.  After a welcome song by the young people, we marched to the place where Mass was to be celebrated.  They had erected  a small grandstand and had decorated the area beautifully with flowers and plants.

Catholic people from four neighboring villages came together for this joyful celebration.  Even though the people had not celebrated mass for three years, they were well-prepared by the catechist.  The people were enthusiastic and reverent as they participated in the celebration of this Christmas Day Mass.

As I prayed the prayers of the Mass, I could sense the strong faith of these strong people and their deep love for the Church and Jesus in the Eucharist.

The long trek back to the car seemed to go much easier because I was accompanied by a large group of young people who carried peanuts, bananas and other garden food which the people gave to me in appreciation of my visit to them.  They were eager to share their stories and their hopes and dreams.  As I walked along, I was aware of my humble part in bringing the Lord to this remote community in the deep bush of Papua New Guinea --- however, in the experience of the faith and love of these good people, I gave thanks on this Christmas morning that God is indeed with us!

To all friends across the miles, I wish you a Blessed Christmas and much health, happiness and peace in the New Year.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mother of the Good Shepherd

The Diocese of Mendi and the Cathedral of the Diocese (which recently celebrated its Silver Jubilee of dedication) is under the patronage of Mary, Mother of the Good Shepherd. Below is a song that was written for the occasion of the Jubilee celebration:

Mother of the Good Shepherd

I’m lost in the darkness and cold is the night;
The wild dogs are howling, I shiver with fright.
I’m far from the sheepfold, my eyes full of tears;
My spirit is broken by sadness and fears.
Mother O Mother, this poor sheep is lost;
I’m hungry and lonely and beaten and bruised.
Pray to your Son Jesus, his mercy to lend;
He is the Good Shepherd, my Saviour and Friend. 

This world can deceive us by glitter and fame,
And soon we may find ourselves broken by shame;
Mother of the Good Shepherd, I’m sad and alone;
Please ask your Son Jesus to come bring me home.

(I will try to find a way to upload the music  too!)

The devotion to Mary, as the Mother of Good Shepherd is common in Spain and in some Spanish-speaking countries.  Under this title, Mary has always been acclaimed at the Patroness of Capuchin Missions.  This title easily directs us to Mary's Son, the Good Shepherd of our souls.

(The picture above is one of the stained-glass windows in the chapel of Borromeo Seminary - the Seminary of the Diocese of Cleveland, where I had the privilege to serve on the faculty several  years ago.)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Mendi Cathedral Celebrates Silver Jubilee

The people of the Catholic Diocese of Mendi, in Papua New Guinea joined together for a three-day celebration to mark the Silver Jubilee of the dedication of the Cathedral Church. It was built and blessed on 8 December 1987 under the pastoral leadership of the late Bishop Firmin Schmidt, OFM Cap., the first bishop of Mendi.

"Singsing" groups from around the diocese came to join in the celebration - many dressed in their traditional attire and playing the traditional 'kundu' drum.

The youth of the diocese also participated in various ways.  Above, young people are interpreting a song dedicated to Our Lady, Mother of the Good Shepherd (the Patroness of the Diocese and the Cathedral) in creative dance.

In my homily, I talked a bit about the meaning of a cathedral in the a diocese as a symbol of the unity of faith and love - and a sign of Body of Christ and People of God being built up in a given place.  Further, I mentioned that a jubilee is a time to celebrate in the present; to give thanks for the blessings of the past and, to look forward in hope to the future and to the tasks that still lay ahead.

In this Year of Faith, the Silver Jubilee of our Mother of the Good Shepherd Cathedral, was a wonderful manner of strengthening our faith in Jesus, the Shepherd of our Souls.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


When I got back from my recent travels I jumped back into my ministry here in the Diocese of Mendi.  On successive weekends I had the opportunity of celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation in two of our parishes.  The first weekend I went to Det.  It is about an hour and a half’s drive out of Mendi.  Currently, there is no parish priest there, but Sister Monika-Pia of the Swiss Franciscan Sisters has kept things going in a wonderful way.  The catechists too are to be commended for preparing the Confirmation class for their big day.

The following weekend I went to Saint Michael the Archangel Church in Tente.  The Tente Parish is just on the outskirts of Mendi town.  Fr John Wenambo is the parish priest in Tente.

Both celebrations were very joyful occasions for the whole community.  They are signs of life and hope.

The Sacrament of Confirmation is one of the Sacraments of Initiation – together with Baptism and Holy Eucharist.  In Baptism we become children of God and are given a share in the mission of Jesus to announce the Good News.  In Confirmation we receive all the gifts of the Holy Spirit that we need to set out on that mission.  And in Holy Eucharist we receive the Food that strengthens us to be more like Jesus and to follow His example.

I really enjoy going to a parish to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation with the young people of our various communities.  It gives me a great opportunity to tell them personally how important they are to the church and their parish communities and families.  Here in Papua New Guinea, as in other places, there are many distractions vying for the attention of our young people.  The church can help give them a way of finding meaning and true purpose in life.

"Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.  Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created and You shall renew the face of the earth!"

Thursday, September 27, 2012

PNG: "One tribe, one kantri."

With the start of the recent national elections in Papua New Guinea, two new provinces were added to the country: the Hela Province and the Jiwaka Province. These two provinces were not formed by the addition of new territory to the country (as one perhaps could say about the addition of Alaska and Hawaii as States of the USA). They were formed by dividing two existing provinces: Hela was divided from the Southern Highlands and Jiwaka was divided from the Western Highlands. Since this is an accomplished fact, I don’t wish to evaluate the pro’s and con’s of what has already happened. Here in the Diocese of Mendi, we look forward to working closely with the leaders of the new Hela Province, and we share in the sense of hope and expectation of the people of Hela.

Papua New Guinea is a beautifully diverse country that is made up of hundreds of different cultures. Often it is said that there are almost 800 languages representing almost the same number of cultural groups of people. One of the greatest challenges over the past years since PNG won its independence in 1975 is the matter of how to form one country out of the multitude of tribes, clans and language groups.

One of the first major challenges to this vision was the terrible crisis in Bougainville. As a result of this bloody conflict, Bougainville is now an Autonomous Region which some believe may eventually end up as a country independent of PNG. Apart from such an extreme situation, one might ask the question, is it good for the country that each year, more and more provinces would be formed by division?

One could imagine many other groups in the country asking the question: If it is good for Jiwaka and Hela to become their own provinces, why not us? Where would such a division begin doing real harm to the country? In a country of over 700 language groups, (most admittedly too small to be politically independent), when would the national government have to draw the line and say, “No more divisions”?

Politics is a part of the reality of human beings as social creatures. Perhaps we could generalize and say that politics is most-often motivated by self-interest. What makes politics good or bad from a human point of view is how broadly or narrowly the “self” is understood. Politics at its best seeks to serve the common good; that is, it understands “self” in terms of the entire community. Politics at its worst defines “self” in a very narrow way, so as to mean, my group, my friends, my interests or, even simply “me” the politician. It takes courageous leadership to help everyone in the political community (which includes all of us) to broaden the concept of “self” that we are interested in.  (Of course, we must always guard the dignity and unalienable rights of every individual and not just consider them as parts of some overarching collective.)

A country whose people cannot see beyond narrowly conceived self-interest to the promotion of the common good of all will never gain the strength and vision required to develop to its full potential. “A house divided against itself shall not stand” (cf. Mk 3: 25). It is not the place of leadership to impose a vision of the “self” but rather, in the lively discourse of pluralistic democracy, to help people freely grasp a wider, more inclusive view.

I believe the Church has an important role to play in this lively discourse. In its recent Pastoral Letter on Communion, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of PNG/SI proposes a movement toward communion as a response to many of the challenges faced by PNG society today. A commitment to communion can invite people beyond alienation experienced by so many people today – especially the young - to a real experience of belonging. The dynamism of the church, inspired by the example of Jesus and made possible by the Holy Spirit is toward “com-union”, that is, “being one with” others (and ultimately with God). This oneness, this solidarity is the foundation of any authentic community. This dynamism toward unity begins with individual persons but can extend to wider communities and even nations.

I was walking through a pharmacy in Boroko recently and picked up a rubber wristband like the ones which many young people are wearing these days. This one had the flag of Papua New Guinea on it and the words: “One tribe, one kantri”. The dream of the Founders of PNG was to form one, independent country. They strove to forge a real unity out of the wonderful diversity in language and culture. The strength of the people of Papua New Guinea in the future will very much depend on the unity that all are able to bring about within the wonderful diversity which exists. The beauty, strength, values of each language group and culture in PNG can enrich and strengthen the one people, the one tribe, the one nation that is developing into the one country of Papua New Guinea.

(An article I wrote which was published by The Catholic Reporter in September 2012 in honor of PNG Independence Day - with some minor changes.)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Bishops Celebrate Closing Mass at Saint Peter's

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Today, the bishops attending the Seminar for New Bishops from missionary countries celebrated their closing Mass of Thanksgiving under the awe-inspiring masterpiece known as Bernini's Glory behind the main papal altar of Saint Peter's Basilica.

The principal celebrant was His Eminence Cardinal Filioni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the sponsor of the seminar.  In his homily he spoke of the three major responsibilities of a bishop:  to teach, to shepherd and to santify the People of God.

These two weeks have been a time of prayer, learning and fraternity among the bishops from all over the world.  I will miss the new friends that I have made in this short time.  I have been inspired by their prayerfulness and encouraged by their pastoral zeal.  Listening to their stories I have come to see that we share many of the same challenges.  Knowing of our unity in faith and prayer will be a source of strength for me as I return to the diocese of Mendi.

There are many problems in our world today.  But I walk away from these two weeks in the Eternal City with a great sense of hope for the Church who continues the saving mission of Jesus in our world... a mission of announcing what we all need to hear:  Good News!

Please pray for these new bishops and know that you are in my prayer as well.

(There will be more coming... so stay tuned!)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Learning from the Poverello

11 September 2012

On Sunday, the Bishops attending the Seminar being sponsored by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples went on a pilgrimage to Assisi.  We had a brief tour of the Basilica of Saint Francis, a very solemn Mass in the Upper Basilica, an inspiring visit to the tomb of Saint Francis and then a festive lunch hosted most hospitably by the Conventual Friars in the grand refectory of the Sacro Convento.

I couldn't help but think that Saint Francis has much to teach those who are called to the ministry of bishop in the church.... even though he never wanted to be a priest (though tradition tells us that he was a deacon).

Francis was a man of intense prayer, he loved voluntary poverty and simplicity, he was passionately in love with the Lord whom he wanted to following in intimate closeness and he loved the Holy Father and the Church... In all these ways, Francis is a pattern for every Catholic and especially for bishops.

Back now in Rome, our program continues in full force for the rest of this week.  On Monday, Cardinal Grocholewsi spoke to us about Seminary Formation of priests and Cardinal Burke gave a wonderful presentation entitled: "The Bishop and the Administration of Justice".  Today, Cardinal Nicora addressed the group on the topic of "The Administrative and Financial Service of the Bishop" and Archbishop Mamberti of the Vatican Secretariate of State gave a presentation on the importance of relations between the Holy See and the State.

In the afternoon we had group discussions around the central topic of evangelization.

Thank you for your prayers for all the bishops.  You remain in my thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Blessed by Pope Benedict XVI

Friday, 7 September 2012
Castel Gandolfo

Today, nine-one bishops from missionary countries throughout the world boarded two large buses and headed for the hills!  Literally.  Castel Gandolfo is the summer residence of the Holy Father.  The pictures show some of the beautiful private gardens of the pope located in the mountains outside Rome, overlooking Lake Albano.

Even on holiday, the Holy Father is keeping a very busy schedule.  He met with the bishops who are in Rome for the Seminar for New Bishops.  Cardinal Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples gave a short address, and then the Pope, speaking in Italian greeted the new bishops and encouraged us in the ministry entrusted to us by His Holiness.

After this, the Holy Father greeted each bishop individually with the gentleness and joy of a true father.  We should all pray daily for God's blessing on Pope Benedict XVI.a

Ninety-one bishops, all dressed in our black cassocks, walking through the small town of Castel Gandolfo became somewhat of a tourist attraction in itself.  Camera shutters were clicking everywhere.

Before returning to Rome, the buses stopped at a missionary center for training catechists.  In the great dining room there, the bishops were treated to a delicious Italian meal.

When we returned to Saint Paul's College, Cardinal Ouellet, the Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops was waiting for us.  He presented a paper entitled:  The Pastoral Governance of the Bishop.  We have heard that the three major responsibilities of bishops are: to teach, to sanctify and to govern (or shepherd).  Cardinal Ouellet's presentation dealt with the third of these three important tasks of the bishop.

Ninety-one bishops will sleep very well tonight, after a very busy and blessed day.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Called to preach the Risen Lord

Thursday, 6 September 2012

We are staying at the Pontifical International Missionary College of Saint Paul the Apostle for the seminary for new bishops.  The picture above shows the chapel where we gather to pray during the day.  The great mosaic on the front wall shows a scene from the Acts of the Apostles - where the Apostle Paul is preaching to the pagan Greeks.  Acts says that Paul admired the religiosity of the Greeks who even had a shrine to "The Unknown God" - but then he proceeds to preach to them about the One, True God who has made Himself known through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  The upper portion of the mosaic shows the glory of the Resurrected Christ.  It is a beautiful image for meditation for missionary bishops who also preach the resurrection of Jesus to those who have never heard His Name or do not know Him as they should.

Yesterday, in our presentations, we had a good refresher about the Social Teachings of the Church; the Pontifical Mission Societies which support the work of missionary churches throughout the world; finally a wonderful exposition of the Spirituality of the Bishop.  In this last talk Cardinal Amato spoke of the pillars of the Spirituality of th Bishop.

Today, we heard presentation on the very important role of the laity in the mission of the church, and then one on the important diocesan structures, e.g. 1)  Presbyteral Council (in Mendi, we call it the Priests' Senate),  2) The College of Consultors; and finally, 3) the (diocesan) Pastoral Council.

Tomorrow, Friday, we are going to Castel Gandolfo, the summer residence of the Holy Father, for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI.  This will be the highlight of our trip as we meet with the Successor of the Apostle Peter and visible sign of communion in the church.

On Sunday, we will all be going on pilgrimage to Assisi.  That is a special grace for all of us, but especially for Franciscans.  There are three Capuchins here:  Bishop Bill Fey and I... and a Capuchin bishop from Malta serving in Kenya.  There are also three Observant Franciscan bishops here as well.

Please know that you are in my prayers as we go through the various stages of this holy visit to the Eternal City.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bishops reminded of priorities

Saint Paul's Pontifical International Missionary College, RomeTuesday, 4 September 2012

I'm sitting in the library of the Pontifical Missionary International College of Saint Paul in Rome.  It's 9:00 PM.  (The picture shows the entrance to the college.)  The library is full of bishops from all over the world  doing what I am doing ... checking email and trying to keep in touch with their dioceses back  home.

The program has kept us very busy.  Each day beginnings with Morning Prayer and Mass and then we are into the program.  Different presenters come in throughout the day to give us input on various topics of interest to new bishops.  The presenters are Cardinals, bishops, priests, etc.  Yesterday, we heard great presentations about the work of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.  Today we heard from the Congregation on Divine Worship.  The Cardinal Prefect reminded us that our major role and responsibility as bishops was to lead people to holiness through the celebration of the Eucharist and other Sacraments.  It might seem obvious, but I was glad to hear it, because often, I find myself worrying and spending much time on many other things - like getting a cement mixer to a construction site or finding ways of closing the abyss between expenses and income!

After each presentation, there is a good amount of time left for Questions and Answers.  I am amazed that bishops from Africa, Asia, South America - in many ways - are dealing with many of the same issues that we face in PNG.  It's consoling to know that we are not alone!

Meals are also a great time of sharing.  There is a real fraternity growing among the assembled bishops.  It's one of the great blessings of such a wonderful gathering.

I know that I'm getting many ideas for when I return to Mendi.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Seminar for New Bishops in Rome

Sunday, 2 September, 2012

I am in Rome for the next few weeks for a Seminar for new bishops.  The seminar is being conducted at the Pontifical Missionary College of Saint Paul the Apostle.  There are 91 bishops participating in the seminar.  The bishops come from all over the world: 63 of the bishops are from Africa; from 4 Caribbean countries, 3 from Latin America, 16 bishops from Asia (Azerbaizan, Bangladesh, India, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka); 6 from Oceania (Pacific Islands, Timor l'Este and three from Papua New Guinea: Bishop Bill Fey, OFM Cap. from the Diocese of Kimbe, WNBP, Bishop Rolando Santos, CM from the Diocese of Alotau, and yours truly from the Diocese of Mendi. 

There is a wonderful spirit of fraternity among the bishops from all over the world.  And it is inspiring to hear the stories of our brother bishops and see how the church is growing throughout the world.  The language of the seminar for prayers and the other sessions will be Italian - but some translation will be provided for the non-Italian speakers.  As mentioned, this is a seminar for new bishops - those who were ordained in the last year or so.  From time to time, I will share some thoughts of what is happening at the seminar... and if I didn't forget to bring the right cable, will upload a few pictures too.  In any case, know that you are in my thoughts and prayers...

Friday, August 24, 2012

800th Anniversary for the Poor Clares

August 11, 2012 was the closing of the year long celebration of the 800th Anniversary of the Consecration of Saint Clare.  I had the joy of celebrating the feast with the Poor Clare Nuns at their monastery in Par, Enga Province.  All the Sisters are from the Philippines.

In my homily, I reflected a bit on part of a letter that Saint Clare wrote to one of her religious Sisters, Agnes of Prague:  "Look every day in this mirror ... and scrutinize continually in it His Face, so that you will thus be able to adorn yourself completely, within and without ... for shining in this mirror are blessed poverty, holy humility and ineffable charity" (4 L Ag).

For Clare, Jesus Christ Himself was the mirror and Clare, like Francis became clear reflections of Christ to the people of their time.  That radiance continues down to our own day in the inspiring witness of Poor Clares throughout the world.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Foundation Day for MC Sisters

Today I had the joy of celebrating the Foundation Day of the Missionaries of Charity.  We are blessed in the Diocese of Mendi of having two communities of MC Sisters here.  They have permission to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the 22 August each year as their Foundation Day.

The Gospel's mention Mary's heart in two profound ways:  In Luke 2: 51b, after the finding of child Jesus in the Temple, Saint Luke mentions that Mary 'treasured all these things in her heart'.  And also, earlier in the same Chapter (2: 35) the old man Simeon speaking to Mary prophesies that 'a sword will pierce your own heart too.'

The Missionaries of Charity follow the example of Mary.  They are true contemplatives spending at least an hour in adoration every day.... treasuring the mysteries of the life of Jesus in their hearts.  From the fruit of this deep prayer they share the joys and sorrows of the poorest of the poor - working as Mary does, bringing people to Jesus.

Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta, Foundress of the MC family... pray for us!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ordination Video Now Online

Thanks to Fr. Phil Gibbs, SVD and Mr. Fideles Sope of Binatang Studio 3 in Mount Hagen, the video film "A Bishop for Mendi" can now be viewed online (for all our viewers who have the blessings of broadband!)  You can find the film at  Please continue to pray for the people of the Diocese of Mendi and their new shepherd.  Thanks and God bless.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mendi Priests' Senate

This past week, we held the Priests' Senate Meeting.  All of the priests working in the diocese come together for a few days to discuss aspects of our priestly life and ministry in the diocese of Mendi.  Practical matters such as how to deal with our financial challenges were discussed, but most of the meeting dealt with matters concerning our pastoral ministry to the people: ideas of how to implement the upcoming Year of Faith; youth ministry; ways of promoting self-reliance and localization; pastoral response to sorcery, etc...

In the diocese of Mendi, there are thirty-three priests.  Nine of them are local, Papua New Guinean diocesan priests.  The rest are from various dioceses and religious orders in Poland, India, Korea, Great Britain and the USA.  I have to confess that I admire all of our priests.  They face incredible challenges everyday:  nearly impassible roads, no electrical power, tribal tensions, spartan living conditions - yet everyday they bring the light and truth of the Gospel to the people in very remote areas with generosity and love.  They are living signs of God's presence and care.

Immediately preceding the meeting with the priests, I met with the religious Sisters working in the diocese.  They live and work in the same conditions and respond with the same zeal and dedication as the priests.

Let's remember to pray for vocations: those yet to come and those who are serving so faithfully in every corner of the world.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

La Brujería es Pecado

(Sanguma es la palabra que se usa en Papúa Nueva Guinea para hablar de la brujería.  Lo que sigue es la traducción al castellano de la Carta Pastoral que escribí hace poco sobre el tema.  Si nuestros amigos cibernéticos quieren acompañarnos en nuestra Novena abajo mencionado, se le agradecería de todo corazón.)


Creer en la sanguma (brujería) es un pecado grande.  Matar o torturar un ser humano en el nombre de brujería o bajo sospechas de brujería es pecado grave.

El buen pastor tiene que proteger a todas las ovejas de su redil de los lobos.  Ahora, en la Diócesis de Mendi, hay un lobo feroz y peligroso que quiere atacar a las ovejas del rebaño de nuestra diócesis.  Ahora, tengo que levantarme para proteger este rebaño.  El nombre de este lobo se llama “la brujería”.

En estos días, en una aldea cerquita a Kumin - dónde se puede escuchar la campana de la Catedral – algunos acusaba a una mujer de ser bruja.  Me mostraron fotos muy explícitas de lo que pasaba en esos momentos: (detalles reservados).  Fue una escena del mismo infierno.  Todo esto pasó en público.  Algunos Católicos estaban presente y también algunos líderes de la comunidad.  Lo más triste es que muchos niños andaban por el lugar también. 

Tengo que decirlo claramente: Todos los que se estuvieron presentes y estaban de acuerdo y no hacían nada para oponer lo que pasaba son culpables de un pecado sumamente grave.  Les han puesto sus almas en grave peligro.  Yo les ruego que se arrepienten, que se hagan penitencia, que se confiesen y que se hagan todo lo posible para erradicar esta maldad de nuestra comunidad una vez para siempre.

El Católico no puede creer en la brujería, el vudú, la magia, la hechicería, etc.  Son creencias paganas y diabólicas.  No son compatibles con la fe Católica.

En la Biblia, San Pablo dice a los Gálatas:  “…los que hacen esas cosas (hechicería y otros pecados graves) no heredarán el Reino de Dios” (Gal 5: 19-21). 

Torturar un ser humano cómo torturaban a esa pobre mujer, va en contra de las leyes internacionales, va en contra de las leyes de Papúa Nueva Guinea y sobre todo va en contra de la ley de Dios.  Por eso, hago un llamado a los líderes de la comunidad, a la policía y a los políticos que se hagan cumplir las leyes del país y que se traigan todos los culpables a la justicia.  Al mismo tiempo le ruego a toda la gente a colaborar con las autoridades en este asunto tan importante.

Nosotros escuchamos mucho sobre la importancia para el país del desarrollo – pero muchos piensan solamente en el dinero.  Si no hay desarrollo humano y moral pues el país no va a desarrollar en ningún sentido… más bien va para la decadencia.  Hermanos, ahora es el momento para renunciar estas creencias y prácticas malignas y vergonzosas.  ¡Ahora!

Para echarle fuera a esta maldad, yo llamo a todos los fieles de la diócesis para hacer una Novena de Penitencia y para Pedir la Misericordia de Dios.  Esta Novena comienza cuando esta Carta Pastoral se lee en la Iglesia y termina nueve días después.  Algunas sugerencias para observar la Novena son las siguientes: ayunar, rezar para pedir la misericordia de Dios, hacer trabajo voluntario en la parroquia, hacer obras de caridad para con los pobres u otros necesitados.  Los líderes de las parroquias pueden reunirse con los sacerdotes y religiosas para ver la mejor forma para observar la Novena.  Quiero que esta Novena se observe en toda la diócesis porque la brujería existe en muchas partes y todos nosotros tenemos que trabajar juntos para sacar este pecado y todo pecado de nuestra comunidad.

Gracias por ´sentir con la Iglesia´.

Padre nuestro….líbranos de todo mal.  Amén.
O María, Madre del Buen Pastor, ruega por nosotros.  Amén.

San Miguel Arcángel, eres el brazo fuerte de Dios.  Eres patrono y protector de nuestro país.  Defiéndenos en los momentos cuando Satanás quiere ponernos a prueba.  Protege a la Iglesia Católica para que sea fuerte.  Ayuda a los que se extravían de Dios para que no se pierdan para siempre.  Acompáñanos por los caminos que nos conducen al cielo para que con todos los ángeles y santos podamos alabar a Dios por los siglos de los siglos.  Amén.

Fray Donato, OFM Cap.
Obispo de Mendi

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sanguma is a Sin

Prot: 059/2012
Dia ol bratasusa bilong Daiosis bilong Mendi,

Sanguma em i bikpela sin. Kilim man o meri long pasin bilong Sanguma em i bikpela sin.

Gutpela wasman bilong sipsip i mas lukautim banis na protektim ol sipsip bilong em long ol weldok.  Nau, long Daiosis bilong Mendi, wanpela bikpela weldok i wok long ran na i laik bagarapim banis bilong daiosis bilong yumi, na mi mas sanap bilong lukautim dispela banis.  Ol i save kolim dispela weldok olsem: sanguma (o posin o soseri).

Long dispela wik i go pinis, long wanpela viles klostu long Kumin – we ol i ken harim krai bilong belo bilong Katedral haus lotu – sampela manmeri i bin sutim tok wanpela o moa meri na i tok olsem: em sanguma.  Mi lukim pinis sampela poto sampela manmeri i bin kisim long olgeta dispela samting i bin kamap.  Mi lukim, ol i bin rausim ol klos blong dispela meri. Ol i bin pasim ai bilong em long wanpela laplap. Ol i bin taitim han blong em long rop na pulim i go olsem Jisas long diwai kruse. Ol i bin katim em long busnaip. Ol i bin kukim em wantaim hotpela ain.  Ol i bin givim pen nogut tru long em.  Dispela samting i bin kamap long ai bilong planti manmeri.  Sampela katolik manmeri na sampela lida bilong komyuniti tu i bin stap na lukim dispela.  Planti pikinini tu i bin lukim ol dispela pasin nogut.

Mi mas tok klia na stret olsem:  olgeta man na meri husat i bin lukim dispela samting na i orait long en, na i no tok “nogat” long en, ol dispela lain i gat bikpela sin.  Dispela samting i bagarapim laip bilong oltaim insait long sol bilong man na meri. Mi singautim yupela long tanim bel, mekim wok penens, go long konfesio na wok bung wantaim bilong rausim dispela kain pasin nogut long komyuniti bilong yumi.

Ol Katolik manmeri i no ken bilip long sanguma, posin, soseri.  Ol dispela pasin em haiden pasin.  Sanguma em i bikpela sin tru.  

Long Buk Baibel, Santu Pol i raitim olsem: "Olgeta man i mekim ol dispela kain pasin (posin na narapela bikpela sin), ol bai i no inap go insait long kingdom bilong God"  (Gal 5: 19-21).

Pasin bilong bagarapim bodi na givim pen long narapela man o meri, olsem ol i bin givim pen long dispela meri, dispela kain pasin i brukim lo bilong olgeta kantri, i brukim lo bilong Papua Niugini, na moa yet i brukim na bagarapim lo bilong God.  Mi singautim ol lida na polis na ol politisen, bai ol i sanap strong long bihainim lo bilong PNG na i bringim ol manmeri husat i brukim dispela lo long kot.  Na mi singautim ol manmeri long ples bai ol i sapotim ol polis long mekim wok olsem.

Yumi save harim planti toktok olsem: divelopmen em i bikpela samting.  Nogut yumi tok long divelopmen na yumi tingim mani tasol.  Sapos no gat divelopmen long gutpela tingting na stretpela pasin na human divelopmen, orait, kantri blong yumi bai no go het, nogat, em bai lus olgeta.  Ol bratasusa, nau em i taim bilong rausim dispela bikpela hevi na sem i stap long komyuniti bilong yumi, kantri bilong yumi, na sios blong yumi.  NAU.

Bilong  rausim dispela pasin nogut, mi singautim ol bilipmanmeri long mekim wanpela Novena bilong Penans na Singautim Marimari blong God.  Dispela Novena  bai stat long taim ol i ritim dispela pas long haus lotu bilong yupela, na em bai i go inap long 9-pela de olgeta.  Sampela we long makim dispela Novena em i olsem:  tambu long sampela kaikai o sampela samting, pre long askim marimari blong God, mekim sampela wok sol long peris, mekim narapela wok long soim laikpasin long sampela lain tarangu i gat sampela nid long en.  Ol lida bilong ol peris i ken wok wantaim ol peris pris na ol sista bilong painim gutpela we bilong makim dispela Novena.  Mi askim bai dispela Novena i kamap long olgeta hap bilong daiosis bilong yumi bikos dispela pasin nogut i stap long planti ples bilong daiosis na yumi olgeta i mas wok bung wantaim bilong  rausim ol dispela haiden pasin, pasin sanguma, pasin kros na vailens long olgeta komyuniti bilong daiosis bilong yumi.

Tenk yu long stap wanbel wantaim Sios.

Papa bilong mipela … rausim olgeta samting nogut long mipela.  Amen.
O Maria, Mama bilong Gutpela Wasman blong ol sipsip, pre bilong helpim mipela. Amen.

Santu Maikel, yu strongpela han bilong God.  Yu ensel i lukautim kantri bilong mipela.  Sambai long mipela long taim Seten i laik traim mipela.  Was gut long Katolik Sios bai em i kamap strong.  Na bringim bek ol manmeri i ranawe long God, nogut ol i lus olgeta.  Wokabaut wantaim mipela long rot i got long heven, bai mipela wantaim olgeta ensel na olgeta santu i ken onaim God, oltaim, oltaim.  Amen.

Bisop Don

(Pastoral Letter warning against the evils of sorcery and the retribution violence that often follows an accusation of sorcery.)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Unsung Hero

I went to Nipa today, to Saint Fidelis Parish to celebrate Sunday Mass.  Father Marek Kondrat is the parish priest.  The weather was cold and drizzly, but the welcome was warm and gracious.  Below is an excerpt (and translation) of the homily that I shared on this happy occasion:

In the Gospel for today (Jn 6: 1-15), faced with the challenge of feeding 5,000 people Andrew steps forward and says:  "There's a boy here who has 5 barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?"  What was the lad doing with the loaves and fishes?  Was he coming back from the store with supper for the family?  Did he see the crowd and think that he could make some money selling his wares to the highest bidder?  We will never know on this side of eternity.  However there is something we do know.  He put his five loaves and two fish into the hands of Jesus... and a miracle happened.  Jesus took a little and He did a lot!  In fact, He did more than a lot!  There were twelve baskets of left-overs!

In the Gospel today, Jesus shows us something of the Kingdom of God - there will be enough to go around and then some!  He also shows us something about his power, his love and his compassion for people in their human needs.  He did not just love peoples' souls...  He loved people - and was concerned about their needs, whether they be physical, emotional or spiritual.

But let's also give a cheer for the unsung hero of today's Gospel - the young lad who had a heart that was not afraid to share.  He put five loaves and two fish in Jesus' hands and helped Jesus to feed 5,000 people.

Sometimes we think that there is not much that we can do.  We feel that we don't have much to offer.  (Or maybe, we are afraid to give what we have.) At times like these, we have to think of this young man - and not just think about him, but follow his generous example.  If we place what we have in the hands of Jesus, miracles will follow and we will be a part of them.

One last thought.  The Gospel tells us that Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish, gave thanks to God and then gave it to the people.  That means that the boy gave it all to Jesus.  He didn't keep a fish sandwich for himself - to make sure that he had himself covered in case something went wrong with Jesus' plan.  Are we prepared to put all that we have and all that we are into the hands of the Lord?  We do just that when we take time every day to pray; or when we strive to do the right thing, when the wrong thing looks more attractive; or when we think of our wife or husband or neighbor or friend before we think of ourselves; or when we are generous with our time, talents and treasure with our church family or others in need.

And let's not forget the miracle that happens at every Mass.  We bring ourselves to the Lord together with the simple gifts of bread and wine - and He in turn gives us Himself as the Bread of Life!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

"Yupela i ken malolo liklik."

Long Gutnius (Mak i raitim, 6: 30-34) yumi harim sampela gutpela edvais Jisas i laik givim long yumi.  Na tu, Jisas i skulim yumi long pasin blong em taim yumi gat nid long en.

Yumi harim oslem ol aposel i kam bek long bikpela wokabaut blong ol – we Jisas i ben salim ol i go blong autim Gutnius.  Ol i stori long ol wok ol i bin mekim na long olgeta tok i bin givim long ol manmeri.  Bihain dispela bikpela misin ol aposel i tait pinis na ol i laik malolo – tasol planti manmeri i wok long i go i kam.  Na Jisas wantaim ol aposel i no gat taim blong kaikai!  Jisas i save ol aposel i nidim sampela taim blong malolo na em i marimari long ol aposel blong em.  Em e tok olsem:  “Yumi tasol i go long wanpela  hap i no gat man, na bai yupela i ken malolo liklik”.  Na ol i amamas na ol i kisim bot i go long wanpela hap i no gat man.

Ol bratasusa, planti taim yumi save bisi long planti samting: long wok gaden, long wok opis, long wok, skul, long wok family – long kainkain wok yumi save mekim.  Tasol, Jisas i laik marimari long yumi tu – olsem em i bin mekim wantaim ol aposel blong em.  Na em i singautim yumi bai yumi go wantaim em bilong malolo.  Taim yumi save lotu o pre o ritim Buk Baibel, yumi bihainim dispela tok bilong Jisas.  Yumi malolo wantaim Jisas.  Sapos yumi mekim olsem, orait yumi bai bel isi long laip na sindaun blong yumi.

Jisas i laik bai ol pren bilong em i malolo ol wan wan taim... tasol em yet i no save malolo, nogat.  Long dispela hap Gutnius (Mak i raitim) yumi harim olsem ol manmeri blong olgeta taun i ran i go long dispela hap ol lain bilong Jisas i laik i go long en, na ol i kamap paslain long Jisas.  Tasol Jisas i no rausim ol na tokim ol i mas i kam bek tumora, nogat.  Jisas i sori tru long ol bikos ol i olsem sipsip i not gat wasman.  Na em i stat long givim planti tok long ol.

Jisas i save yumi mas malolo ol wan wan taim – tasol Jisas, nogat.  Em i stap redi oltaim blong harim pre bilong yumi.  Yumi no ken wari – Jisa i stap oltaim redi long helpim yumi taim yumi gat nid long em.

Jisas, em i gutpela wasman blong yumi ol sipsip blong banis blong em.

(Dispela em i skul mi bin givim long ol bilipmanmeri blong Ekari, Upper Mendi, 22 July 2012.)

The Church - Universal and Local

(This is my first post.  I wrote it when I was in Rome with the Bishops of PNG/SI for our Ad Limina visit in June 2012.)

I write these words from Rome where the bishops of PNG/SI have begun our 'Ad Limina' visit.  The full name of the visit is "Ad Limina Apostolorum" which means "to the threshold of the apostles" - especially referring to the holy apostles Peter and Paul who, according to tradition, were martyred here in Rome and buried here.

On the first day of our visit we went to the Basilica of Saint Paul - where Saint Paul is buried.  Archbishop Steve was the main celebrant at the mass there.  Toward the end of our visit, we will go to Saint Peter's Basilica and Archbishop John Ribat will be the main celebrant at the tomb of Saint Peter.

Each day we go to visit Vatican offices that serve the Church in many ways: health care, laity and youth, justice and peace, communication, family life, etc.  We have been received very well.  I am happy to see that the church officials in Rome are very interested in the church in Papua New Guinea.

As we move around to our various meetings and as we visit the magnificent churches and holy places, I am reminded of the beauty of our Catholic Church which is both local and universal.  In the Diocese of Mendi, we are the local church.  It is at this local level that we strive to live the Gospel in our daily lives by following the teachings and example of Jesus.  We do this in our families, in our small communities and in our parishes. 
But we are not alone, we are part of a much greater family that reaches back to Jesus and the Apostles and that stretches to all continents of our world who share the same faith that we profess in PNG.  We are the church, both local and universal.

I want you to know that I carry you in my heart to all of the holy places that we visit.  I remember you and I pray for you and your intentions.  At the end of our visit, we may have the opportunity to visit His Holiness, Pope Benedict.  If we do, I will be happy to tell him that all the people that make up the local church in the Diocese of Mendi love him and thank him and pray for him in his ministry of shepherd of the church extended throughout the world.

Let us always strive to be of one heart and one mind with the Church – universal and local.  Stap wanbel wantaim sios.