Monday, March 11, 2013

Remote, but close to the heart!

A few days ago, I had the opportunity of going to our most remote parish, located in Kopiago in the far western part of the diocese.  Father Jerome Im of the Korean Mission Society is the hardworking pastor of the parish.

The roads are so poor that we had to take a small Twin-Otter plane to get there.  The 'airport' consisted of a grass runway a short walk from the parish.  Many local people came to greet us and walk us to the parish.  A special honor was to be welcomed by a group of men and women in traditional dress.

I came to Kopiago for my first pastoral visit to this remote beacon of light in the mountains of PNG.  With us was Sister Gaudentia Meier, a Franciscan Sister from Switzerland who has been serving in PNG as a nurse for forty years!  Sister Gaudentia and some local nurses took advantage of the situation to do some training and to see many patients.  I also had the joy of blessing some newly built health care facilities.

After the spiritual festivities, we all gathered for a traditional 'mumu' - a way of cooking pork and sometime chicken buried together with sweet potatoes, greens, on hot stones.  The flavor is delicious and the company makes it taste even better.

The next day, we all joined together again, under the beautiful PNG sky to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation and for the First Communion of some young people.  It was a joyful, reverent and meaningful celebration for all involved.  I never cease to be moved and inspired by the simple yet strong faith of the people of Papua New Guinea.

Even here, so far from Rome, the people are very much united with the rest of the Church in praying for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the College of Cardinals as they gather to choose a successor to His Holiness Benedict XVI.  The new  pope is the shepherd and spiritual father of the whole household of God.

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