PNG children website

By Sr Mary Claude Gadd – Madang

The Catholic Children’s Ministry PNG was created by the Catholic Bishops of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands at their Annual General Meeting of April 2013 in Madang. That was the time when they asked Sr Mary Claude Gadd to further develop the children’s ministry in the Church. Soon it will have its own website: www.CatholicChildren’

Sr. Mary Claude, you are not young anymore, but you are taking the children’s ministry to the internet. Where did that idea come from?

From the Holy Spirit! And it’s true, I’m not 21 anymore, but I am young at heart! And also if we want to evangelize the world, then we have to go where it is and most of it is on the internet! I think it was Pope Francis who said we must go where the sheep are and we know that many sheep spend a lot of time on the internet. The new website shall belong to all of us. It will, symbolically, put all these wonderful Programs “in the same boat!”… the Catholic Church! It shall feature and showcase to the world Catholic activities being carried out in PNG on behalf of our most vulnerable children. With the help of professionals, from my own state of Texas, USA, whom I simply found online and whose service is to set up websites for Church groups, we hope to create something interesting, inspiring and hopefully beautiful as well for the world to view.

Apparently there is not much being done for children in Papua New Guinea outside the traditional schools our Church has always provided.

It’s not true! Thus far I have identified close to twenty (20) special Programs being carried out across PNG by Catholic individuals or organizations on behalf of disadvantaged and needy children. The plan is to allocate, on the website, a page or more to each of these activities and organizations. In addition, the website will also have a small space with contact information related to that particular organization or activity. People out there might be interested and wish to contact those concerned and even donate to support that activity. On the other hand, the primary purpose of the website will not be fundraising as such, but awareness. I have written to those in charge of the various projects asking for information: how did it start, the purpose, goal, vision/mission… plus as many photos as possible. We plan to update the website regularly with opportunities for everyone to send in new stories and photos of recent activities. Once this website is up and running all of us can make reference to it, where people can see what we are doing to help build a child-safe Papua New Guinea. And by the way, we also hope to eventually link the website with Facebook and Twitter so many more can see what God is doing in PNG!

Did you get any replies to your request?

Yes. They’re all coming in little by little and those who have responded seem very excited and enthused with the idea of a special Website! I am also having a special logo designed for the website. It will represent the care and dedication of Catholics all over PNG: helping children in need, feeding them, and sheltering them in a place of safety. And we’ve just created an acronym for Catholic Children’s Ministry PNG; it is “CATCH-ME.png” CAT=Catholic  CH=Children’s  ME=Ministry.png.  It will be very meaningful for our prevention and rehabilitation programs: e.g. let’s “catch” these children before they get hurt; before it’s too late!

Are the current Catholic activities for children’s welfare well distributed around Papua New Guinea?

Yes, I would say so. They’re mostly present in the bigger cities though I am confident we will eventually find some meaningful programs in many smaller places as well. In Port Moresby, for example, we have Fr. John Glynn’s We care! Foundation (for Women and Children at Risk) and the Sacred Heart Brothers’Program, Save our Children and Youth (SOCAY). In Lae, Fr. Arnold Schmitt runs a Program for Street Children; in Mt. Hagen Mercy Works has the “Taxi Boys” Program. In Kundiawa Dr Fr Jan Jaworski, MD, has St. Bernadette’s Hospital School for school age patients. The ambulatory young patients attend classes every day; the bedridden one have the teachers come to their bedside. Callan Services operates in several dioceses caring for children who are differently abled. All over PNG through our Health Centres and VCTS, Sr. Tarcisia Hunhoff, ssps, directs the Mother to Child HIV/AIDS Transmission Prevention Program as well care for children affected and infected with HIV/AIDS; Fr. Valentine Gryk, SVD, from Goroka, directs the Missionary Childhood Program and the Missionaries of Charity in different parts of PNG are running a new Catechesis Program for Early Childhood aged children. Many of our parishes have Junior Legion of Mary Programs as well as Sunday School Programs for young children. One of our Catholic Secondary Schools has a Peer Education Program against HIV/AIDS called Warrior of Hope. Fifteen (15) of our dioceses have two or more Diocesan Child Protection Officers (DCPOs) who work tirelessly to educate the public on Lukautim Pikinini Act 2009, on Child Abuse and the Rights of Children. In the near future we shall be training some 600 Parish Child Protection Volunteers. They will help the DCPOs to educate the public and create in the local communities a protective environment for our children. On the drawing board for the Archdiocese of Mt Hagen is a new family home for abandoned and neglected children. What emerges from all this is a portrait of the “integrated human development” of the most vulnerable members of our society. The website will try to mirror to the world a bit of the good work being done in our Catholic Church for the children.

There is a lot going on, but there is a lot more to be done yet. For example, there is the alarmingly high number of abandoned babies in our hospitals and other health care facilities, the displaced victims of sorcery especially children, children with disabilities or mental health problems needing skilled caregivers, the Disaster Risk Reduction in high risk areas such as mining and primary industries and finally how to salvage from further harm the young children already engaged in the sex industry of Night Clubs in Port Moresby.    

When are we going to be able to click on to the new website?

I’ll see how advanced we are with it by September, but no later than late October before I go on home leave until March 2015. (GL)


Wisdom in nature

By Abp Steve Reichert OFM Cap – Madang

During the past year I’ve travelled by plane from Madang to Wewak and back many times. It is an enjoyable trip. What a beautiful country we live in.

Following the coastline one sees the high mountains inland, the vast forests, the rivers and the small villages here and there in the bush.

Then suddenly the mighty Sepik River appears, confidently strolling out of the hills onto the plain, meandering toward the sea. But just before it accomplishes its mission of depositing its contents into the ocean, it turns back on itself, as if it has lost courage at the last minute.   It twists and turns in indecision before finally making its way through the sandy beach to the sea. And I said to myself, I’m like that sometimes. Many of us are like that sometimes and often our fear and indecision is a cause for doing wrong and hurting others.

Ramu River – It is bold, dirty and undisciplined. It is selfish and greedy. It eats away at the banks and the foundations of the village houses. It builds up sand and silt like so many excuses until its only escape is to slink off in another unplanned direction. We all know people like that. But sometimes we also see him or her when we look in the mirror. How many of us fail to meet the challenges of life with honesty? It’s easier to run away from responsibility and accountability. We need wisdom and strength.

Manam Volcano – white smoke and black smoke – arrogant, moody, sometimes angry and dangerous. It is not reliable.

Karkar Island – Elderly, quiet, stable, settled and generous. It’s like everyone’s grandmother.

And then comes the broken coastline of Madang – the little islands and lagoons, the coral reefs – inviting, peaceful and compassionate.

We humans are created in the image and likeness of God, but sin makes us less beautiful than we are meant to be. But there is hope for us. Wisdom that comes from loving God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, will restore God beauty in us. And loving our neighbour as ourselves no matter what, strengthens the gift of wisdom within us.

As you circle to land on the sea side of the airport you might catch a glimpse of Long Island in the distance to the Southeast – across an angry sea to this volcanic island which erupted 300 years ago and made its mark on the world, causing a time of darkness. It is too far away to see it in detail. But with the help of modern technology, Google Earth, one can see the great beauty of this volcanic island.

 Long Island features a beautiful blue lake in its spent crater – and as you scroll closer and closer to it, the name of the lake pops up on your computer – Lake Wisdom. Wouldn’t it be great if we could drink thewater of that lake and gain wisdom? (DWU Foundation Day Mass – 22 August 2014)


Rebuilding parishes

The music, the message, the ministers

By Fr. Giorgio Licini

“If you lose your WHY, you also lose your WAY!” That was the starting point of the address given by Fr. Michael White and Mr. Tom Corcoran at the Proclaim 2014 Conference in Sydney on 21-23 August 2014. The theme of the biennial Catholic Australian Church gathering was Living the Joy of the Gospel in Parishes, and the organizers could not have found better key speakers than the two American men from Nativity Parish in Timoniu, Maryland, USA.

The men said, “We began to question ourselves and ask “why” when we realized that we were organizing many activities for our parishioners, but the parishioners were not leaving the parish premises better people than they were when they came in. But it was something specific that happened that really convinced us that things had to change. One night a lady, who attended our Friday family parish dinners together with hundreds of others, came to us complaining about the quality of the ‘free’ food we were providing them just to get them out of their homes and bring them together! That was the moment we realized that we were breeding customers/consumers, always demanding improved services, and not children of God. We asked ourselves “Why are we doing this?”  And so Fr. Michael and Tom, a layman, father of seven, with a passion for parish work, decided to leave their “comfort-zone” and go in search of the un-Churched of their neighbourhood, which actually included the majority of the residents of the area for which Fr. Michael was pastorally responsible in Timoniu.


The average resident of Timoniu was given a name; they called him “Tim.” Fr Michael and Tom described him as follows. “Tim” is a family man who lives well beyond his means. He is drowning in debts and hence his marriage is shaky. He does have a job, but this does not mean he likes it. He is very busy and stressed out. His kids study in different schools and he has to drop them off in haste every morning. The little free time that he has he spends at the golf course when the weather is good. When the weather is not good he finds some indoor activity as an alternative. The last thing that occurs to “Tim” on Sunday morning is to go to Church, though he was baptized, confirmed and went for Sunday school when he was young. But of course, according to him, he has reasons not to go back to the parish: the liturgy is boring, nobody really cares, the kids are hard to control and they threaten to deprive him of any possibility of listening and praying. Nevertheless, according to Fr. Michael and Tom, the weekend is the only chance for them to get hold of “Tim.” “People are not available during the week nowadays. You have to get “Tim” on Sunday”, they say.

And so by focusing on the Sunday Eucharist and the three key elements of music, message and ministers, these two Catholic leaders, Fr. Michael and Tom, were able to almost triple Sunday Mass attendance at the Parish of the Nativity. They went from 1400 to 4000 people in the pews!


Music, said Fr. Michael and Tom, is a tool which connects with a higher sphere and eventually the divine.   “Tim” needs it because his life is lost in petty material and routine concerns and activities. The same is true for his wife and children. The music ministry in parishes is sometimes in the hands of people who have fewer skills than they realize they don’t have. The parish priest, said Fr Michael, needs to have the courage to take it out of their hands and appoint people who are better gifted by God.

“Tim” will continue coming back to the parish if he also receives a word of encouragement and direction. True, the Word of God proclaimed in the Scripture is indeed the primary source of inspiration at Mass, but “Tim” needs a good homily in order to grasp and apply the message to his personal life as well as to that of his family. The sermon, therefore, has to be focused, clear, concrete, well prepared and wonderfully delivered. With this in mind, “Tim” and “Jake” and “Philip” and “George” with their families will not skip Church the following Sunday unless their car breaks down at the last minute. Slowly they will also start joining other activities, groups and ministries in their new found Church community.


“Times when we opened the doors of the church and waited for people to come forth are long gone,” said Fr. Michael White. “You need to invite the people. You also need to make them feel warmly welcome”. The “welcome” begins in the car park where there must be parish volunteers when the families arrive. And at the doors of the church, where volunteers usher people in and help them find proper space for themselves and their kids. Then, too, the consecrated ministers, the priests, need indeed to be dignified and capable of warm relationships.

“Not only did attendance in our parish almost triple,” said Tom Corcoran at the Sydney Conference, “but likewise participation in volunteer work, works of charity and other ministries.” At the end of day it means helping members move from a status of consumers to that of contributors, from a passive to an active presence in the parish community. You want people who not only avail themselves of services, but also rejuvenate their lives in the faith.”  

Do any of these observations made by Fr. Michael White apply to PNG parishes – car park aside – as they are for “Tim” and the USA parishes?   Our PNG music and dances are among the best in the world, but what about our homilies and the welcoming attitude of our servants: church lay leaders and priests? What about our concern (or lack of it!) for those who never show up at the door steps of our churches? Let’s not fail to get our own “Michael” and “Kevin” and “Peter” and “John” to Church on Sunday with their families!


Mission is martyrdom

By Fr. Ferruccio Brambillasca – PIME Superior General

Letter to the missionaries – Rome, 25 August 2014


A few months ago I was privileged to join in the beatification ceremony of Blessed Mario Vergara and his catechist Isidore. In the course of that ceremony held in the Cathedral of Aversa, I thanked the Lord for blessing our PIME Institute with the gift of so many martyrs. Yes, our Institute, in its relatively short history, has given the Church many martyrs. And these martyrs are our spiritual heirloom to be guarded as a priceless gift.

In last year’s meeting with the superior generals of missionary Institutes, Pope Francis expressed his gratitude for their continuous gift of martyrs to the Church. Implicitly, then, he included our Institute in his thankfulness for the martyrdom of our missionaries whom we offered in the past, and pledge to continue to offer to the Church!

Personally, I can say that my passion for the call to preach the Gospel in mission lands and the call to bear witness to Christ which flows naturally from it have intensified since visiting the site of the Nagasaki martyrs, the “Korean Martyrs Hill” in Seoul, and since being present at the beatification ceremonies first of Blessed John Mazzucconi and, then, of Blessed Mario Vergara.

Even nowadays our Institute faces some situations in which our missionaries are “at risk.” My thought goes first to our recent martyrs in the Philippines and to those missionaries who continue their work in the same areas. My thought goes to our missionaries in Cameroon, especially those working in the northern part of that country facing, as they are, the grave danger of the Islamic revolt. My thought goes to our missionaries in India constantly forced to deal with Hindu fundamentalism. My thought goes to some of our missionaries working in places like Brazil and Mexico where the presence of senseless violence is directed also at those who work to defend human rights and creates a most serious problem. My thought goes to many other of our confreres who, for a variety of reasons, do their missionary work amid risky conditions.

There is of course, also a less visible type of martyrdom, the martyrdom present in our missions, which I would define as “the daily martyrdom of a PIME missionary.”

It could be the martyrdom of living from one day to the next beset with a grievous illness as it is the case with Fr. Bruno Vanin (a missionary who worked for many years in the Philippines) and Fr. Nelson Meshian (a young Indian missionary). As I mention their names, I urge you all to pray for them through the intercession of our Founder, Bishop Angelo Ramazzotti.

It could be the martyrdom of old age accepted grudgingly, especially if it forces one to go back to his native country or to quit one’s apostolic activities altogether, after so many years on the front line.

It could be the martyrdom of obedience which requires upsetting one’s plans completely along with a prompt reply to a request which one finds hard to heed; or one would rather not heed at all…

Finally, it could be the biblical martyrdom of “forced awaiting” lived by those who long to see immediate results such as conversions, the flourishing of a parish or a PIME community, the improvement of the living conditions of one’s people, better quality in vocation prospects….but get discouraged because the longed for results are just not there yet.

My thought goes to those who are squarely in the thick of this martyrdom of forced waiting. I think of our missionaries working in Algeria, Japan, China, the USA, Myanmar and in many other parts of the world where ours is merely a presence, an awaiting, more than a real work for appreciable and tangible results. This situation reminds me of an old missionary who told me: “It is perhaps more gratifying working in a country where Christians are persecuted than working in a country where they are ignored…”

What is the message that the martyrdom of so many of our confreres conveys to us? Are we treading on the same path blazed by our predecessors? Are we keeping this tradition unbroken?

Martyrdom, as I referred to it in my homily in the Cathedral of Aversa in the course of the celebration of Blessed Mario Vergara’s and his catechist Isidore’s beatification, ought to be for us a powerful call to consistency in our missionary spirit just as it has been for our martyrs.

Now, the term “consistent” could refer to a variety of inner attitudes. However, with this term I refer to a daily living out which is consistent with the formal and explicit choice that we made when we decided to be and to work as missionaries.

Now, to avoid even the slightest misunderstanding, let me specify that by “consistent” I do not intend an attribute applied only to the realm of one’s prayer life, one’s financial decisions, one’s celibate living, a spirit of detachment from material things for the sake of the Kingdom, and so on. Rather, I intend to apply the attribute “consistent” also to making oneself available once again for any assignment, to leaving familiar surroundings, to agreeing with choices that are not necessarily shared by the individual, to opening one’s mind and heart to something new and challenging. Let us never forget the fact that being missionaries means LEAVING… in all its subtle ways. The attribute “consistent” must apply to our openness to any “LEAVING”!!

A second lesson taught us by our martyrs is THE COURAGE WHICH OVERCOMES ANY FEAR AND MEDIOCRITY.

I recall reading many years ago something very interesting in a book about the Japanese martyrs. The title of that book was “Silence.” It is a literary masterpiece on the meaning of martyrdom. What left a deep, lasting impression on me is what happens towards the end of the book where a missionary leaves his faith in order to save his life, opting therefore to live a mediocre and unhappy life.

What our martyrs teach us is exactly the opposite. “If you want to be happy, if you do not want to be a mediocre missionary, have the courage to give your life without reserve, up to the point of forfeiting it for that in which you truly believe.”

You understand for sure how this lesson is valid also for us PIME Missionaries who are gambling our life away for the sake of preaching the Gospel “ad gentes,” “ad extra.” We ought to leave our fears, our mediocrity, our “untouchable” plans behind. We ought, instead, to embrace a new mindset: “the mindset of martyrdom.” Being the mindset of Christ, it is the only mindset capable of making us happy and thoroughly fulfilled.

I close by wishing all of you to begin with joy and hope, in the month of September, the year dedicated to honor the memory of our Founder, Bishop Angelo Ramazzotti.

Best wishes and cordial greetings to all!


N.B. PIME stands for Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions in Latin. It was founded in 1850 in Milan, Italy. By the end of 1852 the very first group of missionaries reached Woodlark Island and Siassi in nowadays PNG Milne Bay and Morobe provinces respectively. In 1855 they withdrew due to the harsh conditions of life. Father Giovanni Mazzucconi was martyred off Woodlark Island in September 1855 and beatified by Pope John Paul II on 19 February 1984. There are currently a dozen of PIME missionaries in Papua New Guinea.


Compulsory education now!

By Fr John Glynn – WeCare! Foundation

Dear Catholic Reporter,

Thanks for the August issue, which I received in PDF format. Thanks also for publishing my article on the front page and several other articles regarding the protection of children in Papua New Guinea. I’d like to make a few comments.

First: The cartoon from the Post Courier is supposedly of me, but in fact is more like Franciscan Fr Jude Ronayne-Ford who is now down in Australia after years of dedicated service especially to HIV/AIDS sufferers and their children. Since he left us I have accepted responsibility for helping a few of the kids he was looking after.


Second: The problem of children’s rights. We have good laws, and there is plenty of awareness of the problem around, but sadly the protocols, or the machinery, for making the laws work is just not there.
For example, one Fr Jude’s AIDS orphans that I have been helping is a young girl called G. She has been living with her extended family and they allowed her to continue her schooling after Fr Jude left. I have been paying her school fees, buying her uniforms, shoes, etc. This year she was in Grade 8 at Eki Vaki Primary school and I promised to get her into my school, Jubilee Secondary, next year if she did well in her exams. When I returned from overseas recently I found that G was no longer in school. She has been taken out and is being kept at home to care for a sick relative. Her education is finished. The family is no longer in Hohola – I don’t know where they have moved to.
When a child stops coming to school like this there is no follow-up from the school. There may be a half-hearted attempt to contact the family, but if there is no success then the child is forgotten. There should be a report made to Social Services, and if necessary to the Police. The family should be found and made to answer for the child’s removal from school. But this simply does not happen. It is as if nobody cares! As if it is thought that talking about the problem is enough – publishing pamphlets, articles in the paper, workshops, ‘awareness’ programs, and so on.
I am supporting four other children like G in three different schools. The one boy has a corner in a hut in a settlement where he sleeps. There is no running water, no electricity, no toilet, he has no family and must find a few kina every fortnight to pay for his bed. Fortunately, he is in Grade 12 and has the promise of a job as soon as his exams are finished. Two of the girls have no families either and I am supporting them in a hostel for young women run by Sisters. The third girl is in a private school and lives with her mother who is a very sick woman and desperately poor with no other family support.


Two of the girls have suffered from very poor eyesight – and one also is partially deaf – for years! They never complained as they knew there was no help for them, and their teachers in the schools they attended never discovered their disabilities because our schools do not concern themselves with such matters.
The schools these young people attend make no allowances for them. They are compelled to pay ‘project fees’ and to take part in fund-raising for the school, and to somehow acquire textbooks and other school materials, sports clothes, etc. And they are sometimes threatened with punishment – even suspension – if they don’t comply.
I feel very cynical about all the talk about children’s rights. Children who do not belong to a strong, supportive, loving family are severely penalised by our schools and by everybody else too. The awareness programs we run should be aimed, not at families, but at our schools, Government Departments, Church Communities, and at anybody who has to deal with children. These are the areas in which the worst discrimination against vulnerable children takes place.


Funerals of Jerry Ginua

PNG Journalist (1964 – 2004)

He was born in Madang on 23 March 1964.
Attended St Mary’s Primary School in Bieng.
Then completed grade 10 at Malala High School.
He made contact with the Dominican Order.
He spent three years at Kap Minor Seminary, Madang (1985-1987).
He undertook the Dominican Novitiate on Loga Island (in Gizo diocese, Western Solomons) in 1988; his novice master was the late Fr Brendan McPhillips.
He made first profession as a Dominican on 27th December, 1988, and moved to Bomana, Port Moresby to continue his studies.
He undertook a Pastoral Year at the Catholic Communication Centre
in Goroka in 1993 and left the Dominican Order that same year.
In November 1995 he joined EMTV News.
In 2009 he joined Kundu 2 TV and worked as News Producer.
He was very good in religious stories and political analyses.
Jerry Ginua died on 3 August 2014.A widower since last year, he is survived by children Sharon, Lucas, Catherine and Francis.
Funeral Mass on Tuesday, 12 August, 2pm – St. Peters’ Erima, Port Moresby.
Main celebrant: His Grace Bishops Rochus Joseph Tatamai MSC of Bereina, PNG and Solomon Islands Catholic Bishop Deputy for Social Communications. (Fr Zdzislaw Mlak SVD)


113th birthady

By Raymond Girana

The Catholic Church in Bougainville is 113 years old today. The first Marist Missionaries (SM) arrived in Pokpok Island, Kieta district on 7th August 1901 with the help of clan chiefs and catechists to begin Christian Catholic mission in Bougainville and services such as health and education. Fr. Englert SM and Fr. Meyer SM celebrated the first mass there on 7th August 1901. Today the Catholic Church in Bougainville celebrate this day as its foundation day!! Happy 113th years to the Catholic Church in Bougainville.