- Abigail Seta
Missionary disciples for a New World
Cluny Sisters mark Golden Jubilee
Photographs by Fr Ambrose Pereira sdb
Boroko, Port Moresby: The Catholic congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny (SJC) marked 50 years of faithful service in Papua New Guinea with a thanksgiving mass on Saturday, 23rd January.
The small group of Sisters who started their work in 1971 come from Australia, India, Philippines and PNG have served and continue to serve the people of Kamina, Kotidanga and Kaintiba Local Level Government in the mountains of the Gulf Province.
With the theme ‘Missionary disciples for a new world,’ the Golden Jubilee celebration was held at the St Joseph’s Parish in Boroko and had Cardinal Sir John Ribat MSC, Archbishop of Port Moresby as the main celebrant with concelebrants Abp. Mathew Vayalunkal, Apostolic Nuncio to PNG-SI, Bp Pedro Baquero sdb, Bishop of Kerema and 26 priests from different congregations in the country.
In his homily, the Cardinal spoke of the Cluny sisters’ mission as teachers in the field and their commitment to their missionary call despite the many challenges in the remote areas of the Gulf Province. “The areas you are sent to as missionaries are challenging and difficult places. Although the mission was not easy, you continued to live and commit yourself to your missionary work. And as we celebrate this day, we are here to thank God for his blessings, his love and his care over the past 50 years,” said the Cardinal.
Quoting Saint Paul’s letter to the Colossians, the Cardinal encouraged the sisters to ‘let the peace of Christ rule in their hearts and that whatever they do, whether in word or deed, they do in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.’
Speeches and a luncheon then followed the eucharist that had the Apostolic Nuncio, Abp. Mathew Vayalunkal, challenge the sisters to be witnesses of Christ and not just teachers. He said that sharing the good news with commitment has been the mission of the sisters and urged them to reflect, celebrate and give thanks by expressing gratitude to God. He also thanked the sisters for their generous service in the country.
Also sharing in his speech, Bp Pedro encouraged the Sisters to let themselves be held by Jesus as he will never let go.
Bema High School teacher and Cluny associate, Cecilia Sembo, spoke of the sisters’ service in the Diocese. “The outreach of the sisters mostly is in education and witnessing the work of God. Their biggest contribution is to Bema High School where a good number of the students have passed onto national high schools and secondary schools. It is one of the best schools in Gulf because of the good management and mentoring of the Sisters,” she said.
Oscar Maina, a former student of the literacy school program in the Diocese of Kerema, also gave an account of his experience. “The literacy school was the first ever school established in my village. I was fortunate to have attended the school as the third batch of students. The sisters through the Melbourne Overseas Mission (MOM) assisted those who needed school fees and I was a recipient of this great assistance,” he thankfully stated.
Following the speeches, a video documentary on the history of the Cluny Sisters in PNG was shown. This then saw the official launching of the jubilee magazine of the sisters by the Cardinal through the cutting of the ribbon and unwrapping of the magazines. The celebrations concluded with luncheon and entertainment.
The congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Cluny has approximately 2600 sisters in 57 countries, 30 provinces, 418 communities across 5 continents, working in education, health, evangelisation and social action.