News from Papua New Guinea
Over the past month the Sisters of Mercy of the Autonomous Region of Papua New Guinea have celebrated a number of significant events.
On Foundation Day the First Profession of Rachael Waisman was held in St Mary’s Church in Goroka. Special guests were Rachael’s parents and a number of other relatives all of whom participated in the Eucharistic ritual, some wearing traditional celebratory decorations. In the Bishop’s absence, Father Valentine Gryk SVD, the Vicar General of the Goroka Diocese presided over the Eucharistic ritual and as Congregational leader of the Sisters of Mercy of Papua New Guinea, Sister Theresia Tina, accepted Rachael’s vows.
After the ceremony, a morning tea for all those present, prepared by the Sisters, was held in a classroom beside the church. Rachael, flanked by her parents, cut the profession cake. In the coming year, Rachael has been appointed to Mt Hagen where she will live at McAuley House and carry out her ministry as a member of the Mt Hagen Mercy Works Team.
OF SILVER JUBILEES AND FAREWELLS
Two of the PNG Sisters have recently celebrated their silver Jubilees, Sisters Terri Gongi and Vero (Veronica) Lokalyo – one in Wewak on the 5th December and one in Mt Hagen on the 19th December. For both Sisters this event was a very special occasion but also a landmark celebration for this young congregation, to have two of their Sisters mark their 25 years as Mercy Sisters.
Celebrating with Terri, commencing with the Eucharist presided over by Father Lawrence Tanu in St Benedict’s chapel Kaindi (Wewak), was her mother and other members of her family from her home village of Jama not far from Kunjingini, and a number of Mercy Sisters from other Dioceses, including PNG Congregational Leader, Sister Theresia Tina, all of whom had braved the vicissitudes of travel in PNG to be with her for this special occasion.
Vero’s celebration took place at Rebiamul, Mt Hagen. Father Arnold Steffen, SVD was the chief celebrant. Afterwards, Sisters, relatives, and friends, continued the celebration with a meal together in the Rebaimul dining room.
Of significance to both of these celebrations is the very large candle, used by Sr Petronia Gawi at her Silver Jubilee celebration in January 2009 shortly before her death. As Sisters reach their Silver Jubilee their names will be inscribed on this candle.
At both events and celebrating jointly with them at each was Sister Joan MacGinley, a member of the Brisbane Congregation. After thirty-two years in PNG, thirteen of these in the Wewak diocese, and the others in Mt Hagen, Joan is bidding farewell to PNG. Her comment in her farewell speech was, “It is time for me to go”. Nevertheless, it will not be without some pangs that she leaves the people with whom she has lived and worked for so many years. Of latter years Joan has worked in the National Office of the Community Animation Services in Mt Hagen. Joan was thanked for her contribution to the church of PNG and to the PNG Sisters by Father Arnold Steffan and Sister Theresia Tina. A special guest at this farewell celebration was her sister, Sister Patricia MacGinley from Toowoomba. Joan will fly out of Papua New Guinea on the 6th January.
Sister Emma Awehi made her final vows in the small church at her village of Mugil just outside Madang on the 15th December. Emma is the first Sister of Mercy from the Madang area. Dressed in traditional dress, she was led into the church by her parents with whom she sat for the first part of the service. Later, following her public affirmation of making perpetual vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience and apostolic service, she changed out of her traditional attire into a long, simple white dress and moved to take her place with her Sisters. Of significance in this celebration was the involvement of family and the youth of Mugil parish, both in the preparation for the ritual and the feast afterwards.
VISIT OF SISTER HELEN WHITE RSM
Sister Helen White, a member of the Brisbane Congregation who spent many years in Papua New Guinea having only departed from this country in 2008, was present at all of these ceremonies. During her time here, Helen had significant involvement with all of these Sisters during their stages of Initial Formation and lived and worked with most of them. Helen’s presence at these events was an added gift not only to the Sisters whose celebrations they were, but also to the other Sisters who have great love and affection for her.
The PNG Sisters of Mercy send their prayer and good wishes to our Sisters across the world, for a peace filled Christmas and God’s special blessings for the year ahead.