Papua New Guinea

From a Blessing in Disguise to the Land of the Unexpected

By Fr Elmer M. Dula RCJ

Fr Elmer M. Dula of the Rogationists tells us how unplanned was his entering the seminary and then later on found himself embracing his vocation. Father Elmer continues his mission work as a parish priest in Papua New Guinea.

I believe that everything that has happened in my life is a blessing – successes, failures, joys and pain. They come in so many forms because of a God whose love for me and for the rest of mankind is infinite and boundless. It is by his grace that I became a missionary priest in a land I thought would only be in my dreams. Looking back on my formation years, I can only see that indeed, my missionary vocation has been a ‘blessing in disguise’.

In 1992 I was in fourth year high school. One day a classmate who was seriously considering the priesthood invited me to accompany him to our parish priest. He wanted to be an altar-server as his personal preparation for the seminary. I went with him I don’t know what he said to the priest but after his interview, the priest called for me. My immediate reaction was surprise, ‘Why me?’ I was only accompanying my friend. Out of respect I obliged and also became an altar-server.

Holy Spirit Seminary, Bomana, near Port Moresby
The Diocese of Alotau-Sideia is part of the ecclesiastical province of Port Moresby.

We were the oldest in the group. Our companions were grade six students and first year high school students. I was a bit embarrassed but for friendship’s sake continued serving at the Holy Mass for the rest of our high school days. My friend also invited me to join him for a ‘vocation orientation’ in Cebu City. Wow, an opportunity for me to leave Leyte and see other places. So I willingly accompanied my friend. He was seriously considering life in the seminary, while I was just looking for adventure. As the saying goes, ‘God writes straight with crooked lines’.

Alotau, Milne Bay [Wikipedia]

After graduation, my friend decided to pursue another career and I found myself inside the seminary. I told myself that I would try it for a year only. That one year became two, three, four until I became a novice in 1998. My family was surprised with my decision to become a priest but they were happy and supported me all the way.

Simple Joys in Mission

By Savio Angelo Sanchez SDB

Traditional dancers from Lise Oalai 
and the Moveave tribes

I received the missionary cross on 27 April 2004 from our Regional Superior. Our Provincial Superior assigned me to Araimiri, in the Gulf Province of Papua New Guinea. I noticed the different reactions of people to this news. Many wished me luck. Some were surprised. Others promised that they would pray for me. Others again warned about malaria and ‘cannibals’! Some were afraid I wouldn’t last because of the tough life and also because of my physical health. But I still obeyed my superior. Besides, I had volunteered to go to the missions. So, armed with the prayers, support and encouragement of my confreres, friends and loved ones, I headed for PNG.

Misadventure In PNG

By Sister Nellie L. Margate, OND

I still smile when I remember the reaction of the policemen seeing the contents of my bilum, a traditional PNG string bag, when I emptied it on top of the table in front of them all. It was a sunny Sunday morning. I and one of our sisters attended Mass at the University of Papua New Guinea. We were both in our best Sunday habit and after Mass decided to go to the parking lot between the PNG parliament and PNG Museum for my companion to hone her reversing and parallel parking skills before she’d start driving on the main roads.

‘PNG Baptism’

By Father Francis Vega

Twenty-eight years ago Father Francis Vega arrived in Papua New Guinea with Father Nestor Ubalde.They were the first Filipino SVD priests to be assigned there. Father Francis now works in Hilongos, Leyte. Here he shares with us his experiences during his first year in PNG.

I arrived in PNG with Father Nes on 6 September 1977. We were sent to the highlands to learn thelingua franca of the country, Pidgin. We were provided with a Pidgin book and a language tape. Then we were left to ourselves to read the book and to listen to the tape. After six weeks of language study, Father Nes was assigned to the coastal Diocese of Madang and I to the Diocese of Goroka in the highlands.

From The Mountains To The Seas

By Sister Elisa C Caballero OND

Sr Elisa on one of her home patrols in a remote village in Papua New Guinea

On 4 July 1995 I arrived in Papua New Guinea with great hopes and open to encountering a new culture and environment. I welcomed the many experiences of culture shock. After a few months of adjustment, and learning to speak Pidgin English, known in PNG as ‘Tok Pisin,’ I learned to let go, accept and understand the realities of mission life.

Life On The Mountaintop

By Sister Maria Luisa Tomaro OND

Moving from a small island to a mountainous area is not without its difficulties, as Sister Maria Luisa knows only too well.

Reading Misyon regularly encouraged me to share my mountain experience here in the Diocese of Daru-Kiunga, Western Province, PNG. I was in Daru Island before but we closed our mission there so I was transferred to the mountain of Golgobip, a different experience with different people in a different place and situation. In Daru, I was surrounded by the ocean but now am surrounded by high mountains without roads and cars.  The only means of transportation is the plane. If it doesn’t come because of bad weather or no passengers from the center we, my sister companion and our parish priest, are stranded and have no food to eat except kau-kau and taru (kamote and gabi), the people’s staple food. Anyway, by God’s grace we survive.

In PNG, We Travel By Dinghy

By Sister Maria Divina MC

…Be with us Mary along   the way guide every step we take, lead us to Jesus, your loving Son. Come with us Mary, come…

We all smile as our pre-school children, from different denominations, sing with their angelic voices the hymn to Our Lady. I believe Our Lady is smiling too as she listens to their innocent prayer. Their song gives me hope and joy, that indeed we all have a great Mother who never forgets us.

My Special Journey

By Father Ver Aro MSP

My appointment to the Western Province of Papua New Guinea was the start of my journey ad gentes – ‘to the nations.’  It was a kind of pilgrimage that led me to embrace the value of a very special vocation, to proclaim the Good News to a people and culture where Jesus’ words are unknown by most and when heard are often considered absurd.

I started to learn the local language, familiarize myself with the people I was serving, get acquainted with their culture and love the community.  I also caught malaria.  After only five months I was uprooted from the area because of an urgent need elsewhere.  My superior transferred me to the Diocess of Vanimo in Sandaun Province.