Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Thankful For New Friends

It is with great sadness that we announce we will be returning to the USA, leaving Papua New Guinea on Friday October 27.  Bishop Bill believes that a new Bishop, who may be announced the first of 2019, may want a completely new staff and so believes we have fulfilled our purpose here.  As we prepare to return, we give thanks to God for blessing us with friends while here.  They have become part of the fabric of our lives and we will miss them. 

We have been blessed to make some very special friends here in Papua New Guinea and would like to introduce them to our family and friends at home.

Bishop William Fey invited Lay Mission Helpers to send Helpers to the Diocese of Kimbe and he was thrilled when 3 “wontoks” arrived.  Bishop Bill has been a mentor and a friend.  He became very ill in early July and returned to Kimbe from the USA today, October 20.  Everyone has missed him and is grateful for his recovery and return.  Continued prayers are requested for his continued health and that he takes care of himself.

Father Gabriel Tovo, Vicar General of the Diocese of Kimbe, has been a friend, sounding board and supporter.  He is a gentleman in every sense of the word.  This man has contacts everywhere in Papua New Guinea and also has a position on one of the local government boards. 
The priests of the Diocese have all welcomed us.  We have been blessed to spend time with Fr. Yarek (you met him in a couple of earlier blogs), Fr. Gregory and Fr. Jack (also in an earlier blog) from Poland and Fr. Joseph from Uganda.  Father Joseph, Father Michael and so many of the PNG priests have welcomed us and are happy to have us as part of the Diocese Family. 

Sister Mary Agnes Tuharus, Sister Bernadette Kinakava and Sister Marilyn Babe, Most Sacred Heart Sisters (MSC)   Sister Mary Agnes leads morning prayer each day and has helped us learn Tok Pisin (we are not as conversant as we should be, but we are trying) and she is the seamstress everyone goes to for help.  She developed polio as a child (Polio is making a comeback in PNG and the government is pushing vaccinations) and she told me she was blessed with an uncle and a teacher who took time to work with her, so she can walk.  Her uncle worked with her each time he visited the family, making her move her legs and strengthen her muscles.  A teacher spent time with her during school recesses when she could not play with other children in games, by helping her get exercise.  Today her only limitation is that her legs tire easily and she cannot stand for long periods.  Such a great example of perseverance!
Sister Bernadette invited Danita and me (Karen) to Rabaul with her this summer and we had a wonderful time.  Sister Bernadette is full of love and laughter.  We call her Sister Giggles and she loves it, makes her giggle even more.  Sister Bernadette’s uncle is Cardinal John, the first Papua New Guinea Cardinal.  Someday we hope to meet him. 

Sister Benedict, Sister Sara Park, Sister Florentina Cho, Sister Lomero, Caritas Sisters (SCG)  The Caritas Sisters are a force to be reckoned with!  Sisters Sara and Florentina arrived in Kimbe just over two years ago to start and develop Caritas Secondary School.  Now they have over 500 hundred girls and next year even more!  They are also beginning to build more classrooms and are very active in the Diocese.  Sister Benedict is the first Papua New Guinean to become a Caritas Sister and, as you can tell from the picture, brings life and laughter with her.  Sister Lomero arrived approximately the same time as Danita, Ron and me, arriving with no English; Danita and I are working with her to strengthen her English. 
All these ladies have welcomed Ron, Danita and me with open arms and have held us in their prayers.

Deacons to Be:  Boniface, Chris and Joseph were among the first we met upon arrival.  Boniface and Chris, along with Deacon Chris, journeyed with us our first weekend to spend Palm Sunday in Kaliai.  I do not have pictures of Chris and Joseph.
So many others have made us feel welcome it is difficult to list them all but the include Simon at Liamo Reef, Summer at Apple Mango, Chris and Nick at RMI, Joseph, Principal of Ponini Technical School and so many others!

I am sure many have heard those who have been in other countries either as missionaries or working with organizations such as Peace Corps say they people they met were the gifts they received.  We agree!  The blessings we have from meeting and having these people as our friends is so much more than we will ever give to this wonderful country. 

As always, thank you to our wonderful friends at home for holding us in their prayers and supporting us in so many ways.  You are included in our daily prayers with thanksgivings for the blessings you have showered upon us. 

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

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!