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Mission Celebrations in PNG March 2011

At the beginning of March the Passionist priests in Vanimo, Papua New Guinea, celebrated 50 years of presence in the Vanimo Diocese.  Among their invited guests were former missionaries who had worked alongside them during those years.  Many lay missionaries and orders of religious sisters had been partners with the Passionists, but only two lay missionaries and three Sisters of St Joseph, along with two Australian Passionists, former missionaries, were able to be there for the celebration.

The Josephite Sisters were the first order that the Passionists invited to Vanimo so it was fitting that three were able to be present for the celebrations.   Shown in the photo, Yvonne Munro rsj was the New Zealander, to the left of Carmel Clear rsj and Gerardine rsj of the Sisters of St Joseph Goulburn, NSW.

The celebrations climaxed with a Mass at the largest Church in the Diocese which was still not able to hold all who came. The day was remarkable for many reasons, among them the fact that so many villages came together for the Liturgy, the sharing of food and entertainment.  It was a long day in the hot sun, as the Mass lasted three hours!  Other celebrations included a gathering for a meal of all the Religious and Priests currently in the Diocese - many from a number of countries.  There was also a meal with the catechists of the Diocese, and a meal put on by the Bishop for the Passionists and missionaries.

In Yvonne’s words:
“For me the highlight was seeing the joy of both the former missionaries and the people from the various villages, reuniting.  There was such joy and story-telling and producing of photo albums.  In between all the meals, we former missionaries spent the days being driven by a visiting Passionist, going from village to village reconnecting and reminiscing.”

“From a personal perspective, I was very keen to see the changes that may have happened in the twenty nine years since I was last there. Not many, I discovered.  Village life is lived much the same as it was then, although technology has definitely arrived.  Many of the local people use mobile phones, and there are TV antennae attached to the roofs of the often traditional houses.  I was pleased to learn that the standard of health care has improved.  Schools are still functioning in most villages and most of the younger people are pretty fluent in English along with their own village language and Pidgin – the national language.
It was an honour and privilege to share in celebrating the fifty years of dedicated presence by the Passionists.”

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Photos show Yvonne with a class of children at Mushu
and with catechists she worked with at Wasengla Mission

Gallery / Whakaahua

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