- Sr. Maria Tongop pbvm and Tracey Nateleo
Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (MFIC) Celebrate Foundation Day
Aitape: With the theme 'Honouring the glorious past, celebrating the golden present and envisioning the promising future', the Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (MFIC) in Aitape celebrated 150 years of ministry since foundation.
The sesquicentennial anniversary was celebrated on Saturday May 6, 2023 with a Eucharistic celebration and had Fr. George Ayikade CSSp as the main celebrant with Fr. Thomas Pradeesh Mathew HGN and Fr. Andrew as the con-celebrants.
This significant celebration commemorated not only the 150th Foundation Day of the MFIC Sisters but also the blessing of the Early Childhood Development school facilities and monument of the school named after the Foundress, Elizabeth Hayes.
During his inspiring homily, Fr. George asked the MFIC sisters; What are you touching, reaching out to and where are you drawing near to? He reflected on the aspect of the life of the MFIC congregation founder (Elizabeth Hayes) and urged the sisters to be like a magnet to magnetize; to touch, to strike, to reach out, and to draw near to people like the foundress during her time who touched lives, reached out and drew near to those ones who needed help.
Fr. George also encouraged the sisters to be thankful to God with grateful hearts for the wonderful deeds he has done through the longevity of service in the lives of the MFIC sisters of Papua New Guinea.
“The Celebration today consists of the reality of faith, biblically structure of leadership and accountability to honor Elizabeth's persistence and consistency,” said Fr George.
“Your Foundress started something 150 years ago, today these people are gathered here, because of her. The challenge is spelled out in the gospel of Mathew 5: He gave them the talent according to their ability,” said Fr. George.
He added that a person can only be golden and future promising, it gives each member of the institution a clear picture to realize the key has a unique and responsible role to play. As you celebrate the glorious past, golden present, and the promising future it is because the order consists in the power of the Holy Spirit moving from the past to the present.
The celebration was well prepared with joyful voices and Dances at the liturgy which was led by the postulants, novices, staff of Elizabeth's school, and sisters. Families, and friends from villages near and far also joined to witness the 'Sesquicentennial' (150 anniversary) celebration.
The Missionary Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception was founded by Mother Mary Ignatius of Jesus (Elizabeth Hayes) in Belle Prairie, Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA in 1873. The MFIC congregation has been in PNG since 1949.