Apostolic Nuncio highlights Investment in the Laity

-       Nigel Akuani

 

Port Moresby: The Apostolic Nuncio to Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, His Excellency Archbishop Kurian Matthew Vayalunkal, urged the Archbishops and Bishops to display compassion and to invest more in their laity.

 

The Apostolic Nuncio celebrated the Eucharist at the official opening of the 61st Annual General Meeting on the 26th June at the Catholic Bishops Conference, Waigani, Port Moresby. Concelebrating with him were Bishops from the different dioceses of Papua New Guinea. Bishops from the Solomon Islands were unable to join in due to the restrictions on travel. He offered the eucharist for all the dioceses, priests, religious, seminarians, people of God and especially youth and children.

 

The Nuncio reflected on Chapter 8 of the gospel of Mathew, and the cry of the leper, ‘Lord, if you wish, you can cure me of Covid’. He gave thanks to the Lord for protecting PNG and SI from disaster and implored the Lord to keep us all safe from this pandemic.

 

Echoing the words of the leper, by millions of people across the world, he spoke of how the leper despite his flaws pulled up his courage and approached Jesus. “The courage of the leaper in approaching Jesus is a great lesson for everyone. We too must learn to go to him in prayer to seek his merciful face. Jesus felt pity and stretched out his hand to help”, he said. He encouraged the bishops to go in search of the lost, the last and the least. “As bishops we extend our hands to touch the hearts of the abandoned, marginalized, ignored, and excluded, in an effort to uplift these people and restore their dignity and rightful place in society,” he said.        

  

After the Eucharist, addressing the Bishops, the Apostolic Nuncio thanked them for their care and collaboration amidst immense challenges. He then addressed them on the theme: ‘Our Catholic Laity: Holy and Sent for Service’.   He spoke of the important role the laity played in the formation and works of the church and implored for constant engagement of their laity in implementing their Diocesan Pastoral Plans. 

 

“‘Our Catholic Laity: Holy and Sent for Service’ is a theme that shows the importance of the topic and the interest of our Church in encouraging the laity to take up their specific role in the Church,” he said. 

 

“It is our highest responsibility to give adequate formation to the laity and empower them to exercise their special role as Catholic laity in the life and mission of the Church in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. Although there are challenges, we are blessed with so many dedicated faithful who daily live their faith in difficult situations, and we need to concentrate and invest more in them,” he said as he invited the bishops to reflect on their engagement with the laity and adjust priorities for better effectiveness.

 

He stressed the mutual support, assistance and collegiality among the Bishops, while stressing on the care of priests living in isolation in remote places as they care for their people in multiple parishes. Speaking on vocation-promotion, he highlighted the need for the care of families as they are they are the seed bed of vocations. 

The Nuncio then concluded his address sharing with the bishops the ‘Decalogue’ which the Holy Father presented to all the Nuncios last June. ‘The Bishop must be a man of the church and a man of God, a man of apostolic zeal and one of reconciliation, a man of the Pope and a man of initiative, a man of obedience and a person of prayer, a man of charity and a man of humility’.

 

The 61st Annual General Meeting of the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNGSI, commenced on the 23rd June and will conclude on the 3rd July.  It has as its theme: “Our Catholic Laity: Holy and Sent for Service”.

 

The occasion has brought together 17 Bishops from the Catholic Dioceses around the country, 1 Administrator Delegate Fr Ryzard Wadja SVD, and General Secretary of CBCPNGSI, Fr Giorgio Licini PIME. It discusses church issues of faith, formation and evangelization as also issues that are of community and societal importance. The AGM originally set to be held in the month of April, was deferred due to the lockdown measures passed by the government to contain the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

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