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  • Simon Mokot

SVD Celebrates 125 Years in PNG

Mt. Hagen: The Society of Divine Word Missionary (SVD) Celebrates 125 Years of Mission in PNG.

Religious and local priests, brothers and sisters from across the Highlands Region and PNG gathered to celebrate the 125 years’ Anniversary for the SVD Congregation in the Country.

The celebration was held at St. Paul’s Parish, Mt. Hagen Archdiocese on Friday January 15 on the feast of Blessed Arnold Janssen their founder. The actual anniversary date falls on August 13th, historical date on which the first SVD missionaries set foot on PNG soil (Madang) in 1896.

SVD missionaries serving in other dioceses across Papua New Guinea, Catholic Christians from the rest of Highlands Region gathered in numbers for the occasion. St. Paul’s Parish church was fully occupied. Archbishop Douglas Young, SVD, Fr. Bogdan Swierczewski, CSMA Vicar General of Mt. Hagen Archdiocese, and other invited guests, both religious and professionals, were there for the celebration.

The thanks giving Mass began at 10am led by Archbishop Douglas Young, SVD. Music and songs, Bible reading and prayers were taken care of by the group ‘SVD Lay Partners of Mt. Hagen. Well prepared and colourful processional dances were put up during the mass. After the mass Br. Victor Kanarski, SVD Council Member of the Society of Divine Word in PNG Province read out the message of their superior Fr. Jose Orathinkal, SVD who was not able to be with the rest of his fellow missionaries. Among the speeches made, the bishop gave a brief historical account of SVDs arrival and establishment in PNG. Fr. Vincent Agbeyome-Akpah, SVD said they chose to make the anniversary celebration small and simple following the charism of their founder.

The SVDs are the very first Mission Congregation to arrive in PNG on 13th August 1896 at Madang and later moved to Tumleo Island, Aitape in West Sepik, where they started their mission. They arrived when our ancestors were still uncivilized, though few expatriates were already here. They brought the Word, and with the Word they tore open the cloud of Spiritual, Social and Cultural blindness. With the help of the other religious congregations that eventually joined them with the same mission, they tamed us of our wild and aggressive natures, and formed us as Christians, and eventually the entire nation as God wanted.

We have the duty to be always thankful to God for sending us missionaries, the SVDs and many others. It was through their sacrifice that we have become members of the Universal Catholic Church.

Today the SVD Missionaries are serving in seven dioceses across PNG. These are Madang Archdiocese, Wewak Diocese, Wabag Diocese, Mt. Hagen Archdiocese, Kundiawa Diocese, Goroko Diocese, and Port Moresby Archdiocese. There are two active bishops; Archbishop Douglas Young of Mt. Hagen and Bishop Jozef Roszynski of Wewak. Archbishop William Kurtz has retired in Madang. There are 68 priests, 12 religious brothers and 22 seminarians preparing for priesthood in various stages of formation in the country.

The SVDs in PNG has sent 18 PNG national priests and brothers on mission to 12 different countries. Of those some came back to work in PNG and 9 are still in their mission countries. There are 3 deacons on pastoral ministry in the parishes and preparing for priesthood ordination.

The SVDs are fully involved in the service of our Spiritual and Social needs; specifically in education and health.

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