Church needs good priests, not many priests - Archbishop Francesco Panfilo, sdb, at the ordination of Fr Joseph Liaia, cp.
Fr. Joseph Liaia, cp, was ordained priest on Saturday 22 February 2020 at the Sacred Heart Cathedral, Vunapope, East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea. Archbishop Francesco Panfilo, sdb, laying his hands on Deacon Joseph with all other formalities of the rite that followed ordained him priest before a crowd of cheerful and joy filled family, friends and guests who came mostly from his Napapar village, New Britain provinces, Port Moresby, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide in Australia.
Fr Tom McDonough, cp, the Passionists Provincial Superior welcomed Fr Joseph to the fraternity as the first Passionist priest from East New Britain. Fr Joseph also becomes the fourth Papua New Guinean priests of the Passionists Order. The others are Felix Kialoi, Jacob Kuman, and John Auram. Newly ordained Bishop of Kimbe, Bishop John Bosco Auram, priests of Rabaul and Lihir's Fr Peter Turuchai, msc, joined and concelebrated at the ordination Mass with Archbishop Francesco.
Fr Joseph aged 31, born to Camillus and Julie Liaia, is the 8th of the 11 children. His father passed on in 2017. It was an emotional moment for Fr Joseph.
The ordination was on the Feast day of St Peter's Chair (Matt 16:13-19). Archbishop Francesco in his homily addressing the newly ordained Fr Joseph said in pidgin: "Dia Joseph, tude yu kamap pris blong Kraist. Olsen Jisas yu mas save mekim pasin isi; yu mas kamap stretpla man; na yu mas stap man bilong wok. Olsem Jisas yu mas kamap wasman na 'protector' bilong ol bilip manmeri bilong Sios. Jisas i singautim yu bai yu i 'alter Christus' o 'narapela Krais' namel long ol dispela pipol. Wok bilong yu insait long Sios em long autim tok bilong God, selebretim ol Sakramen, na kirapim kristen komuniti na mekim ol wok marimari ".
Archbishop Francesco asked of the new priest three things - First, God's word belongs to God, to be taught and received by God's people as their food and nourishment. Priests must be holy and taste sweet to God's people by example. As priest he must read the word of God with clear mind, believe what he reads and teach what he believes and practice what he preaches by example. Secondly, when celebrating the sacraments for the people always give praise and thanksgiving with joy. "Today you will begin saying the words of consecration and your hands will hold the body and blood of Christ ... celebrate Mass each day with joy and good spirit as you will do in your first Mass." Third, when you do your ministry of Christ you must work hard to bring people together as one family, and lead them to Christ in the Holy Spirit. Follow Christ himself as the good shepherd who came not to be served but to serve and to take back the lost. Fr. Joseph was reminded that St Paul of the Cross founded the Passionists congregation to spread the devotion to the sufferings and death of Jesus on the Cross.
Archbishop Francesco stressed, "the Church need good priests, not many priests". Speaking on the holiness of priests the Archbishop urged Fr Joseph to pray rosary each day so that the Mother of Jesus can also pray for him to do his work.
Fr Joseph held his first Mass in his home village of Napapar 5 St Anthony’s church on Sunday 23 February 2020 with three deacons and 6 other priests. It was an emotional moment for himself, his family and the village community to have the first Passionist priest in their family and the community. Fr Joseph becomes the eight priest of their St Joseph’s Napapar community.
There was much food, singing and dancing into the night to celebrate the occasion. Praise be to God!