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Federation of Religious of PNGSI holds 2024 AGM in Madang

Madang: The heads of priests, Brothers and Sisters of different Congregations of the Catholic Church in PNG and SI met for their 33rd annual general meeting from 25 to 01 March at Alexishafen, Madang. They came under the theme, ‘Pilgrims of Hope: On the Path of Peace’ numbering 48 in all, from all over PNG and Solomon Islands.  Unique to this assembly was the presence of the presidents and representatives of Religious Conferences from Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Islands. 

(Picture: Participants of the 2024 AGM)

Most notable senior members of the Catholic hierarchy who were present in the FoR General Assembly were; Christopher Cardone, OP, the Archbishop of Honiara and Bishop Deputy for Religious and Consecrated Life. Archbishop of Madang, Anthon Bal at the opening Mass welcoming everyone to his Diocese for this assembly shared his reflection on theme “Pilgrims of Hope: On the Path of Peace’. Bishop Dariusz Kaluza MSF, of Bougainville shared his experience at the recently held Synod in Rome, as the only bishop who represented PNGSI and invited the participants to reflect on the Synodal approach among Religious and consecrated people.  Bishop Rozario Menezes , SMM of Lae was also present focusing on the importance of ongoing formation of religious and reporting on Right Relationships. 

The President of FoR, Fr. Jose Orathinkal, SVD informed that one of the important decisions taken at this meeting was the beginning of a process of the unification of different Conferences and FoR of PNGSI into one entity. He also said that the recruitment and formation of candidates and ongoing-formation of its members continues to be an important challenge to the FoR.  This week-long meeting was facilitated by different executives, Sr. Efrenita Morata (FDCC), vice president, Fr. Shijo Joseph (HGN), the president of CMR, the CWR President, Sr. Evangeline Orpilla, while Br. Philip Grundy, the treasurer presented the financial situation of the Federation. 

An extract of the assembly statement, show their determination and commitment to social and religious concerns along with their faithfulness to their religious life.

“For decades the collaborative efforts of Catholic Religious Men and Women and the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNGSI have successfully delivered programs for the empowerment of Congregational Leaders and formators, for protection of children, women and other vulnerable people and the expansion of education and health services. We are committed to carry forward our joint ventures with vigour and enthusiasm.

We, Catholic Religious Brothers, Sisters and Priests of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands pledge ourselves to explore and commit to ways of working together even more efficiently and effectively among ourselves. Further, we commit ourselves to an even closer collaboration with the Conference of Catholic Bishops of PNGSI to work for more vocations, on-going formations for the benefit of the spiritual life of the Catholic Faithful and the citizens of our homelands.

As Pilgrims of Hope: On the Path of Peace, we strongly uphold the Synodal Way of relating, discerning and correcting wrongs which is advocated by Pope Francis, embraced by our Bishops and widely recognized as the Way of Our Peoples. We shall give immediate concrete expression to it by amalgamating the current separate Female and Male Conferences of Religious to form a new and inclusive peak body known as Catholic Religious PNGSI which will be more representative of the National Religious of PNG and SI and shall foster partnership with the Catholic Religious of Oceania. 

Catholic Religious recognize the pain and trauma that afflict our people through poverty, riots, tribal fights, abuse of women and minors and the scourge of sorcery-related violence.  These realities contribute to an ever-increasing number of internal refugees who seek only safety and peace. We stand ready to assist them when we can, and are always willing to join hands with government and all people of good will, to address underlying causes.

We applaud progressive initiatives of the Governments of PNGSI such as free tuition, which give hope and a pathway to a better standard of living for so many. However, we urge Leaders to follow up with full pay and necessary resources for teachers, sufficient classrooms and facilities, and adequate security. Moreover, we believe that progressive social initiatives must always be safeguarded from ambitious political competition and be motivated only by determination to maximize benefits to our people”.

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