Thursday, October 4, 2018

Various Excursions

This summer we visited Bitokara and Valupai parishes.  Both parishes are on the very tip of the island and both overlook the ocean.  The blacktop runs out before you get to Bitokara and then the way to Valupai is difficult.  Bitokara is on the top of a small mountain overlooking the ocean with larger mountains surrounding it. 

The Bitokara Parish Priest is Fr. Grzegorz Kasprzycki (Fr. Gregory) from Poland.  He is a builder and has rebuilt the convent from just the barebones and built a beautiful new kitchen.  No pictures of the convent but take our word for it, stunning.

The church, however, is in dire need of maintenance (if that is what it can be called).  Fr. Gregory is working on a classroom for the Missionary Sisters of Charity (MC) to be used teaching the littlest pikininis (Tok Pisin word for children). 

Pictures of the Church:

Bitokara had a celebration the day we arrived and we received some welcoming gifts.
The Valupai parish priest is Fr. Jacek Kedzior (Fr. Jack), also from Poland.  Valupai is on the beach and the road consists of water ways, large rocks (I MEAN LARGE) and deep drops.   Except for feeling like you are going through a ringer, the drive is beautiful and once arrived, worth it!

Pictures of Valupai church:

Both parishes have schools and Bitokara has a ‘hospital’.  The hospital has only a few rooms still standing and those that are have portions of walls missing.  There is a new school room at Bitokara but the contractors left without finishing (this seems to be common here both in medical centers and schools) and took the keys.  The following is a new classroom which is very nice but they hold class with no furniture in Valupai:
We were blessed to be present at one of the outposts for Baptisms:
The view from Valupai parish:

Both are an adventure and so beautiful!

In early September, Karen attended a financial seminar in Goroka, Eastern Highlands, with Fr. Gabriel Tovo.  The presentation was provided by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands and the presenter was from Missio Auchen, Germany.  Very informative and it was wonderful to meet people from almost every Diocese in Papua New Guinea. 

Goroka Retreat Center, Diocese of Goroka, Eastern Highlands:

On the grounds also is the Burning Bush Retreat Center:

On the way back from Goroka, Fr. Tovo and Karen had a layover in Port Moresby so, for the first time, she also got a whirlwind tour of the City.  When we arrived in March, we were met at the airport by one of Bishop William’s Capuchin Brothers and spent the night with them.  So, this tour allowed her to see the downtown area including government offices.

Since returning things have been relatively quiet.  Currently, we are awaiting the return of Bishop William in late October.  Thank you to all who have been praying for his recovery from the stroke he suffered in July.

We also, want to thank all who have been holding us in prayer.  You are all held in our prayers and are part of the fabric of our Papua New Guinea experience. 

O, Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything!

Friday, September 14, 2018


Great things happening in Kimbe Diocese.  Fr. Yarek and pilgrims are walking, carrying and sometimes riding from place to place across the Kimbe diocese.  Not sure of all the places they have traveled.  They are carrying Our Lady of Fatima and The Shroud.  I was blessed to assist them this past week.   Friday I was returning from Ponini School and the group was walking towards Ponini.  I stopped ahead of them and walked to meet them and walk with them.  Fr. Yarek asked if I would transport their gear and some of the pilgrims not feeling well to Ponini for their rest stop; the day was very hot adding to the difficulty of the walk.

Father Yarek invited me to join the group in Valoka for Sunday Mass and to assist their transport on Sunday.  I arrived at 6a.m. for 6:30 Mass.  Fr's. Joseph, Pastor and Fr. Yarek concelebrated the Mass.  At end of Mass Fr. Yarek presented an introduction to Our Lady of Fatima and Shroud presentation.   Fr. Joseph invited all to remain after Mass for Father Yarek's full presentation and prayer; nearly all remained.   

After lunch prepared by Fr. Joseph, I went to the church for prayer and observed many parishioners in line praying at the statue of Our Lady of Fatima and the Shroud placing a hand on the Shroud as they prayed.   There was a young lady sitting close by and when the last in line left she proceeded to the display and began to pray.  Something was definitely heavy on her heart as she began to sob which lasted for some time.  She finally found some peace and settled down.  Beautiful!  Seemed as if grace was given her.  This is only one of the powerful experiences encountered with those on pilgrimage and visiting the Shroud and Our Lady of Fatima.

I transported some of the group to their next stop.  Others followed on trucks.  They made a stop on the way for a short presentation at an outpost.  They were to process and make presentation at the Anglican Church in Kimbe on Sunday evening.  They are scheduled to visit more Anglican parishes and other protestant churches in a follow up pilgrimage in October.  

Fr. Gregory, Policy Pastor at Bitokara, stopped by our residence on Monday.  During our conversation we discussed the pilgrimage.  He shared that on a previous pilgrimage, a father of three children who are unable to hear of speak and one with a foot injury, walked with the group to pray for his children.  The story goes that upon the fathers return home the children were healed.  Our Lady of Fatima continues Her work her in Kimbe Diocese, PNG. 

What a blessing for this family and all of us living in Kimbe diocese.

- Ron

Friday, August 10, 2018

Scripture for Service

The following is spot on for serving in another country and culture, no matter the service.

Last week Bishop William Fey suffered a stroke.  He was transported to Port Moresby and then onto Brisbane where they are preparing him for travel to the USA. Prayers are requested for his recovery as well as the Diocese of Kimbe.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Trip to Rabaul

This past weekend, Danita and I were blessed to be able to attend two special events in the Archdiocese of Rabaul:  The 50th Anniversary of the Noviate of the MSC Sisters and the Feast Day of Blessed Peter To Rot which also included a Youth Conference for the Archdiocese.

We traveled to Rabaul by first going to Ulamona:

We left Ulamona in a 60hp dinghy on Thursday morning at 5AM, in very rough waters:

Sr. Rose
Sr. Bernadette

Needless to say, the trip was miserable; however, there were some highlights.  Lunch on one of the islands followed by a stop at the island of Sr. Bernadette’s Family:
Lunch - fresh fish
Fresh water river at the area where we stopped to meet Sr. Bernadette's family
The Noviate Anniversary Celebration was held at the Noviate house, which is in the center of a Palm Plantation.  The Plantation was originally one but the Archdiocese donated it to three religious orders:  The MSC Sisters, FMI Sisters and OLSH Sisters, so although still one main plantation, it is split into three areas and provides income to the three orders.
Sr. Bernadette
Sisters at 50th Anniversary Celebration


After the celebration, Fr. Paul, who kindly acted as our guide and driver throughout the weekend, took us the War Memorial Cemetery.

Sr. Bernadette, Karen & Danita.  Hot and a bit of wind.

On Saturday, we attended the Feast Day Mass for Blessed Peter To Rot.  Archbishop Francisco Panfilo, SBD, and Bishop Rockoo (a direct descendant of Blessed Peter To Rot) officiated.  This was the final day of the Youth Conference held in the Archdiocese of Rabaul and between 4,000-5,000 youth attended. 
Relics of Blessed Peter To Rot, the first Blessed and soon to be Saint of Papua New Guinea
On Sunday, we attended Mass at the new Cathedral and then took a tour of the Archdiocese grounds, had lunch with the MSC sisters in their beautiful convent on the grounds of the Archdiocese and then visited the Hot Springs at Mitapit.

Inside the Cathedral

List of Archbishops

One of the pieces of artwork depicting the fire dance painted on the buildings of the Archdiocese

Hot Springs:

One of the greatest blessings of the weekend was being invited to stay at the home of the first Papua New Guinea Cardinal and meeting his entire family.  The Cardinal is an uncle of Sr. Bernadette.
We were scheduled to return to Kimbe on Monday but there were some delays with the boat transportation so we left Rabaul at about 4:45 AM on Tuesday morning. 
Our boat on the shore
On the way back to Ulamona, we got to see the sun rise and arrived safely.

O, Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Great Joy in Small Packages

The joys of receiving a package from our daughter!   Brightens the whole day.

Ron & Karen

Monday, June 18, 2018

A Day In The Life

I wonder if you are interested in the rhythm of our days here?

4:00-4:30 AM             Get up to face the day, very much the same as in the USA.

4:30 AM                      Our daily prayers

Coffee and catch some news on Al-Jazeera.  It is very interesting to get the 
news from a perspective other than that given in the USA.

5:30 AM or so            Water is turned on. 

We were asked if we could drink the water from the tap.  Gigi & Max, our children, gave us a water filter to use while here and we are very thankful!

The top container is water from the tap first thing in the morning.  You can see why we prefer to filter.  One of our acquaintances here, a native Papua New Guinean

6:00 AM                      Morning prayer, The Divine Office, in the Cathedral

6:30 AM                      Morning Mass, Cathedral

On Wednesday morning we have the option of attending morning Mass for Caritas School at 7:40AM or evening Mass at 5PM in the Cathedral.

7:00 AM or so            Breakfast and more news
                                    Laundry I try to do one load a day, small wash machine and hang dry
Sweep and dust – this could be done every five minutes and there would still be dust

8:00 AM on                Begin the work day

Ron usually meets with his crew and goes over their work day and then spends the rest of the morning supervising, planning, etc.  Ron is learning to understand the workers’ Pisin and picking up some words.

I usually begin working on various projects which are all computer based at this time.  I am working from our home for many reasons and I visit Chancery Office several times throughout the day with questions or to practice my Pisin. 

9:30-10:15 AM           Water is off for the day

10:00–10:30 AM         Sr. Lomero, one of the Caritas (SCG) sisters, comes to the house for about an hour to
                                     practice her English. 

These sisters are from Korea and oversee the Caritas Secondary Technical School which is in its 2nd year and has over 200 students.  This spring they opened their first dormitory to roughly 60 girls.   At first, I thought I should have a ‘plan’ for these visits but I have learned that she loves to talk and is not shy about learning, so I usually let her pick the subject of the day and help her with pronunciation, grammar and meanings.  This works out very well. 

I have learned some of the history of the Caritas Sisters, founded by the Salesians, as well as about Sr. Lomero’s family, how the sisters are now part of her family, her decision to accept the posting to PNG, and, of course, Korean politics.

Noon                            Belo.  Lunch

1:00 PM or so             The afternoon is much like the morning except MUCH HOTTER!

4:00 – 5:00 PM           End of work day.

4:30 PM or so             Water is turned on for the evening.

5:00 PM                      All stores and the market close.

Two days a week, Deacon to be Boniface comes for our lessons in Pisin.  We also are blessed that he shares about PNG culture, about the different tribes located in West New Britain and some of the traditions from his tribe.  We have also heard about his family and his call to the priesthood.   At some time during the evening, we say the Evening Prayers of the Divine Office in our home.

6:00 PM                      Sunset

Bedtime varies but is usually early.  If there is no event at the Cathedral the grounds become very quiet.  Many evenings we listen to the choir practice or just the sounds of the families around us. 
9:15-10:00 PM            Water goes off for the night

If you wonder, Ron and I are lucky in that our housing has a TV and cable.  The cable company is the same company we get our telephone and internet through, not very reliable, and and all are expensive.  Telephone and internet are not purchased monthly like at home; rather, you purchase the number of megabytes you want for the number of days you hope it will last.  I usually top up for 1 month at 1.2 – 5 GB at K68 – K110, roughly $21.28-$34.42, and still have not made it through the month!  Because of this, we have found a spot, Liamo Reef Club, that offers free Wi-Fi and have started trying to spend part of Saturday or Sunday there.  We have heard there are one or two others, so we will be trying those out as well.

As always, we continue to be thankful for those in the USA who pray for us and support us in so many ways.  You are in our prayers as well.

O, Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything!