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'Human Integrity' stressed in National Level Chaplain Workshop

-         Nigel Akuani


Port Moresby: Virtues, values and integrity were but some of the principles and human qualities stressed during a constructive National Level Chaplain Workshop focused at improving the service delivery of Chaplaincies throughout Papua New Guinea.


The workshop held from 12th to 17th October, at the Catholic Bishops Conference in Waigani, was facilitated by Bishop of Lae, Rozario Menezes SMM, with the help of Sr. Mary McCarthy PBVM, Chaplain of Port Moresby General Hospital.


It had as its theme, “Chaplains Holy, formed and sent on a mission”, and had the participation of fifteen Chaplains both local and expatriates from Poland, Nigeria, Kenya, Australia and India, serving in the dioceses of Lae, Port Moresby, Vanimo, Aitape, Goroka, Mt Hagen, Mendi and Kundiawa.

Group Picture before Closing Eucharist .

Special guests were also invited to give brief sessions highlighting the significant role of Chaplaincies and the crucial need for the implementation of its services regarding rehabilitation and human services. Guests included His Eminence, Sir John Cardinal Ribat MSC, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Port Moresby; Fr Jan Czuba SVD, Secretary of the Department of Higher Education Research Science and Technology; Stephen Pokanis, Correctional Services Commissioner; Representatives of Police Commissioner Davind Manning; Chief Executive Officer of Port Moresby General Hospital, Dr Paki Molumi; and Dr Uma Ambi, Director of the Social Change and Mental Health Directorate.


Bp Rozario explained how Chaplains played a fundamental role in the formation of society and said that there was a burning need now more than ever for rehabilitation and counselling. “There is a craving for Chaplaincies especially in Correctional Service Institutes because although they deal with the rehabilitation of people, they lack the spiritual input that should help traumatized victims in prison,” he said.


He said the Chaplains had a duty to care for the sick, vulnerable and oppressed but admitted that the limited number of Priests serving in dioceses was also a factor that hindered service distribution of Chaplains. “To inspire vocations in others, we need more Priests, Religious and the involvement of lay people who are dedicated to the Church because these are things that the Church currently lacks,” he expressed.


However, Bp Rozario assured that Chaplaincy services would soon take a big leap for the better, as it looked forward to developing a curriculum program. “To improve efficiency, an assessable curriculum program for the Chaplaincy will ensure that Priests and Laity are not just experienced but academically qualified for the role,” he affirmed.


Sr Mary said the workshop was an opportunity to work closely with the Chaplains by way of sharing experiences from their dioceses, and developing strategies of improving the care given. “By the time inmates are released, they will have suffered both physically and psychologically, and we have to be able to give them a sense of purpose and ownership during their reintegration back into society,” she said.


Fr Bogdan Cofalik MSF, of the Holy Family Congregation in Goroka, described how his work in the area revolved around youths and young people and said many were often at times neglected by their families and forced to fend for themselves in society. “As a Chaplain in Goroka, I work with more than 4000 young people and most were once engaged in criminal activities. But through anger management lessons and physical sports for the young and counselling for married couples, we are teaching them the right way of living normally again,” he stated.


The workshop was structured in three parts: sharing on the situation on the ground and the service; inputs and expectation by the government departments on education, health and security; and working in the current “new normal”, in regard to COVID-19.


A closing eucharist was held on the final day that was celebrated by Apostolic Nuncio to PNGSI, His Excellency Archbishop Kurian Mathew Vayalunkal,; and concelebrated by Bp Rozario, Priests, and Religious Sr Mary McCarthy.

Pokanis address during workshop .jpg
Participants at workshop 3.jpg
Participants at workshop .jpg
Group picture .jpg
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