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Pilgrims embark on a journey

- Nigel Akuani

Port Moresby: Twenty-six Pilgrims from Papua New Guinea have embarked on a prestigious 10-day journey to the Holy Land of Jerusalem. 

The religious group of 11-Priests and 15-Lay people came in from the regions of Southern, Momase, Highlands, and the Solomon Islands, and left for Israel on Friday 20th February. 

Preparation and coordination of the travel was organised by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands (CBCPNGSI). This was an initiative of Fr Giorgio Licini PIME, General Secretary of CBCPNGSI, after his successful orchestration of travelling with Divine Word University students to Rome in 2013, seven years ago. 

According to Ms Nyleptha Kenny, Assistant to the General Secretary, this was the first time for CBCPNGSI to arrange such a group travel and see through successfully its achievement. “It seemed difficult and challenging to pull off but thanks to the support of God we managed to send our people over. They too can now feel the experience of walking on the land that Jesus walked, and this should serve as an inspiration for all Catholic and non-Catholic Christians to follow the same,” she said.

She highlighted 2020 as another year dedicated to the efforts of the Laity here in PNG and the world over, and said that the pilgrimage was intended to spiritually broaden the horizons of the laity. “The laity are to be heroes to those less fortunate in society, God’s people, because this is what he calls them to do, and the pilgrimage is aimed at stimulating this enthusiasm among laity in carrying out the mission of the Church,” she stated.

Former Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mr Alfred Reu, was fortunate enough to go after trying for a while, and described it as the “Trip of a Lifetime”. He urged for CBCPNGSI to organise a similar travel to the Vatican City and maintained that it was a way for the laity to strengthen their faith and their works in helping the Church.

The group will be flying through to Manila, Dubai, Jordan, and finally onto Israel. During the tour it is planned that couple Peter and Elizabeth Nend, from Sangurap Parish in the Archdiocese of Wabag, will both be renewing their wedding vows in Cana of Galilee. A special visit is also scheduled to Bethany by the Jordan where Jesus was baptized by John, for the pilgrims to renew their Baptismal vows.

Prior to the travel, the fundraising had a one-year duration running from February 2019 through till February this year 2020, thanks to the efforts of Ms Rosabella Pabalan from Century Express Phil, Inc. Travel and Tours. The pilgrims are expected to return on 1st March.