Diocese of Bereina
Office of the Bishop
March 28 2011
Dear Fathers /Religious Men and Women/Heads of Sectors and all People of God
The months of January, February and March 2011 had gone by very quickly and before we realize it we are already into the Lenten Season with prayer, fasting and alms giving done with sincerity and from the heart will set our right spirit of preparation for Holy Week and Easter Joy.
1. I was in Europe and the Holy Land beginning from 3rd January and arrived back in the country on 16th February 2011. I visited our former Missionaries in Paris, Issoudun and Marseille. I was privileged to be Main Celebrant for the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Basilica, Issoudun which is also the foundation town of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. Most of our Misssionaries (MSC & OLSH) had their formation in Issoudun and were sent to the various missions around the world departing from Issoudun, Central France.
(a) I had the privilege to encounter Br. Lionel, OLSH Srs. Gabriella, Josephine Fournier Mary Gerard and Fr Seveau. A few days later Sr Mary Gerard passed over to the Father's House leaving us with the fond memories of her hospitality and community spirit in Terapo and Fane Stations where she served in the Lord's vineyard both in Kerema and Bereina Dioceses. Fr Seveau, a diocesan priest of the Archdiocese of Bourges was the uncle of Fr Philipp Seveau MSC who is now in Paris but served his priestly ministry in Yongai, Ononghe, Fane and Kubuna. He reminded me that he is still united with us every day since he prays the rosary in French as well as in Kuni and Fuyughe languages for the sake and intentions of our diocese.
(b) In Marseille I visited Frs. Rene Fraix, Antoine Fournier, Leon Bel and Br. Henry Pasquiers. Each of these MSC confreres lived and worked tirelessly in our diocese especially in the parishes and the schools. Each of these missionaries had their fond memories of the horses, the caravans, the horse tracks and the long walks from the coast to the mountains and back down to the coast. They were pioneers in their own rights and great explorers and linguists, apart from natural engineers, botanists, anthropologist, sociologists but above all missionaries and announcers of the Good News of a God who is love as revealed in the compassion of Jesus the Christ.
Again I was just fortunate to have a life-time interview with Fr Leon Bel MSC who ten days later on the 22 of February 2011 also passed over to the Father's house, and we can hear in our minds the fond words of our Lord, "enter into my Father's house good and faithful servant." In the interview he shed light and clarity around some of the unanswered questions and issues I had regarding the commitment and sacrifices of the first missionaries to penetrated the interior villages and succeeded in conquering the mountains with well established parishes and mission stations. Fr. Bel spent 57 years of his life as a missionary in Bereina diocese and it is a wonderful achievement for what the Lord has done in his life. While in Marseille I had the opportunity to celebrate the Holy Mass with the retired confreres as well as all the other retired personnel in the home of the Retired. Fr Antoine Fournier MSC with the rest of all the confreres conveyed their greetings and assurance of prayer to everyone in the diocese.
(c) I also went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to the young girl, Bernadette and revealed her name as "I am the Immaculate Conception." I joined the congregation for the Eucharistic celebration on the International Day of the Sick, 11th February 2011. There was literally no space in the International Basilica which has a sitting capacity of 25 thousand pilgrims and utilizing six (6) languages during the Eucharist. The choir sang magnificently with uplifting voices generating the angelic ardor and prayerful spirit. We were 30 Bishops and more than 600 priests with more Religious and Pilgrims making the Basilica looking smaller. The following day I concelebrated at a French Mass at the Grotto, as well as took part in the Marian Evening Processions, and did the remarkable Stations of the Cross all with the intentions for all the sick and elderly in our diocese as well as everyone's intention throughout our country.
(d) I visited Madrid to represent our CBCPNGSI for the 2nd International Preparation Meeting for the WYD2011 which will be held in Madrid Spain from 16 - 21 August 2011. During that occasion I also visited Fr. Jose Diaz MSC with the MSC Community at Valladolid. Fr. Diaz fondly known in our diocese lived and worked during 45 years in Bereina Diocese, especially amongst the Mekeos at St. Paul's Parish Veifa'a. He is 91 years of age and still celebrates 2 Sunday Masses and preaches the homily. Even though he mixes the languages, (French, Spanish English and Mekeo) the congregation and confreres greatly enjoy his missionary spirit and he is an inspiration to all.
(e) We were six (6) Bishops from PNG (Abp John Ribat, Bps.Patrick Taval, Anton Bal, Arnold Orowae, Tony Burgess, Rochus Tatamai) joined 200 Bishops and 7 Cardinals with many Itinerants Catechists and families of the Neocatechumenal Way for a Retreat in Galilee, Israel from the 26th January - 1st February 2011. Again this was another of a life-time experience as it brought home and into the core and heart the famous historical locations where Jesus did his earthly ministry more than 2000 years ago. We had the opportunity to concelebrate two (2) Holy Eucharist at Caphernaun the home of St. Peter (remember the famous healing of the mother-in-law of Peter) and was well-known as the hide out of Jesus. It was just an awesome experience to actually be there and to recall the significance of God acting in and through concrete geographical location, it's just awesome and wonderful, the fact and thought just blows you away.
Inside the ruins and remains of the ancient Synagogue at Capernaum that we had the opportunity to hear afresh the words of Jesus teaching for the first time ever over 2000 years ago on the Bread of Life according to St. John chapter 6. The ruins of the ancient synagogue and the suspension of time between the past, present and future came alive and the silence all around exemplify the clarity and powerful nuances regarding Jesus' claim as he is the "Bread from Heaven, the Bread of real life" who makes the resurrection possible and nourishes eternal life.
Not far from Capernaum we celebrated the Mass of Recommitment at the Primacy of Peter near the Sea of Tiberias. Since the chapel was too small to comfortably accommodate the whole lot of us, we celebrated the special Solemnity underneath a shady and cool mango tree. Such was a reminded of our pastoral situation when we at times celebrate the Holy Eucharist in all proper as well as unusual locations. After the Mass, in groups of tens and according to our language groups we enter the chapel where Jesus after his resurrection prepared a breakfast for his Apostles to make a recommitment of our ministry and role as successes of the Apostles. We repeated the historical event as a solemn ritual with the Presiding Cardinal standing behind the rock and took the time and patience, calling each Bishop by name and posing the same question Jesus asked "Peter son of Jonah, Do you love me?" and each in turn replies "Lord you know everything and you know, I love you; to which the Cardinal repeated the "mission-ing" with the challenging words "Feed my Sheep" Feed my Lambs".
Next we had an exciting bus trip to visits the ancient city of Caesarea Philippi. There were enjoyed the ancient ruins and scenery with the cool of the source of the Jordan flowing peacefully towards the Sea of Galilee. Again another powerful experience to hear the Gospel anew as Jesus asked Peter and the disciples for the first time "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"
On Saturday 29th January 2011 we enjoyed the bus trip through Cana in Galilee up to Nazareth and visited the Basilica of the Annunciation. Archeological excavation revealed the ancient location and restored the exact spot in the house of Mary where the Angel Gabriel greeted her with the "Hail full of Grace, the Lord is with you". Each Bishops had the opportunity to pray in silence in front of the exact spot where the "incarnation" or "where in time and space the Word became flesh and lived among us" eventuated offering the intentions of all the dioceses as well as that of the whole world.
On Sunday we had the pleasure and privilege of the 2 hours drive from Tiberias in Galilee, passed by the desert plains, seeing the city of Jericho to the right and the Dead Sea to the left. We could see from the distance of the highway the mountains and caves of the Qumran Community. It was a rather rainy and wet day but did not deter the enthusiasm and growing curiosity for us the first timers to the Holy Land. This is it, where it all happened, the greatest event of salvation history, the basis for our Christian faith and conviction. This pilgrimage made real the psalmist sentiments "I rejoice when I heard them say, let us go the House of the Lord, and now our feet are standing within as we pray that peace shall reign within your walls O Jerusalem. This was a one-stop-shop because within Jerusalem all within strolling distance we visited the Sepulcher and Calvary, which concluded later in the evening with the Holy Eucharist in the Cenacle for the 200 Bishops, cardinals and translators, while the other pilgrims celebrated the Holy Eucharist at Bethlehem.
The Bishops Retreat sponsored and organized by the Neocatechumenal Way took place at "Domus Galileaea" on the Mount of the Beatitudes over-looking the panoramic view of the magnificent Sea of Galilee. It was a deeply spiritual experience as we connected with the geographical settings of the 4 Gospel Stories with the proclamation and meditation on the relevant Gospel Passages concerning those relevant locations thus bringing new freshness to life as the fifth Gospel that God not only is the Lord of History but also truly acts in definitive geographical locations as far as the Holy Land is concerned as well as our individual definitive geographical location.
2. We had the Priests meeting at Bereina on 28th February 2011. This was well attended by all the priests with the exception of two due to various circumstances. In any case, the presence of the Priests at Bereina during the meeting made a clear statement of a new beginning and lively start for Bereina as the headquarters of the diocese. We also observed three new staff houses currently being built and near completion.
3. We had an early start for the Lenten Season with the Chrism Mass (Mass of Oils) at Our Lady of the Sacred Cathedral Bereina on 1st March 2011. This was well attended by the Priests, Religious, the staff and students of Sacred Heart Primary Bereina, Mainohana Catholic Secondary as well as with some nearby schools, communities and parishioners. It was also the occasion for the Priests to renew their Priestly commitment, showing their solidarity with the Bishop and the opportunity for the people to pray for the priests working in our diocese.
4. On Saturday 19th March 2011, as well as the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary, Fr. Casmiro Kito MSC was ordained at St. Jean Marie Vianney Parish, Tapini. It was well attended by the Priests and Religious from within the diocese as well as members of the Chevalier Family. On Friday 18th March, 2011 there was a brief traditional ceremony of welcome and presentation of gifts from the parish community and Fr. Casmiro's family to the Parish Priest and the Bishop. It was history in the marking as Fr. Casmiro becomes the first of the Tauade speaking tribe to be ordained a priest. Thus it was a joyous occasion for the Students and Staff of Sacred Heart High School, Tapini to see a former student giving himself totally to Christ and his Church. The ordination celebration and liturgy was simple but prayerful and inspiring for the Parish and School communities. We congratulate Fr Casmiro Kito MSC and wish God's blessing upon him and his missionary and priestly ministry. We thank in a particular manner Fr. Brian Cahill MSC, the Staff and Students of Sacred Heart High School and Blessed Peter ToRot Primary with all the nearby schools, health workers, including all the nearby parishes for the special contributions towards the Priestly Ordination and the celebrations. We also thank Fr Casmiro's parents, family and relatives for their generosity and support during the celebrations and now appeal on every one to continue to pray for more vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
(a) There was another significant milestone for Education in our diocese with the signing and ground breaking event between the Bishop of Bereina Diocese and Officials of the PNG Incentive Fund (AusAid IF) at Mainohana Catholic Secondary School on the 10th March 2011 marking the commencement of The Mainohana Development Project. We affirmed that the diocese of Bereina - Catholic Education Agency is the main service provider for education in the Kairuku and Goilala Districts of Central Provice.
Across these two districts the entry point for Grade 9 takes place at two schools"
" Mainohana Secondary School (Bereina) is fed by students from primary schools in the Kairuku District.
" Sacred Heart High School (Tapini) is mainly fed by students from primary schools in the Goilala District.
Students graduating Grade 10 from Mainohana and Sacred Heart are then selected for Grade 11 & 12 at Mainohana.
Grade 8 and Grade 10 Leavers from both districts will have opportunity to undertake technical and vocational skills training courses at Mainohana once the Skills Training Center is established there.
The plan to relocate the St.Peter's Skills Training Center at Yule Island to Mainohana is to bring these two schools into an arrangement of 'shared facility and resources' under one school administration.
" FUNDING FROM AUSAID (PNG INCENTIVE FUND): K9,670,660-00
PROJECT OUTPUTS: We'll see the new construction works will include
- 4 x BOYS' DOMITORIES
- 2 x Boys' Ablution/Laundry Blocks
- 1 x Double Storey Classroom Block (3 classrooms & 1 office area / storey
- 4 x Trade Blocks (Workshop & Classroom)
- Boys' Dormitories: Double Bunk Beds
- Double Storey Classroom Block: Teachers Desk Chair sets / Students Desks & Chairs
- Trade Blocks: Workshop Machinery, Equipment & Tools / Classroom Desks & Chairs
The visitors were warmly welcome by colourful traditional dancers representing the Mekeo and Roro dancers from the coastal deanery and the energetic young male dancers from the Goilala mountains. The dancers' variety in decorations, the rhythmic steps and expressive movements kept the visitors and officials thrilled throughout the celebrations.
The various guest speakers reiterated the importance of partnership and collaboration. Br. Robert the Principal reported the gradual improved academic performance of the students which reflects the staff's commitment and the administration's dedication and leadership.
(b) The Catholic Teachers' had their Workshop and Orientation at Alain de Boismenu Pastoral Centre from 14th - 18th March 2011. This was also the opportunity for the Diocesan Education Secretary (Mrs. Bibiana Modakewau) and Christian Education Coordinator (Sr. Emma Lapun olsh) to introduce and present to the participants the Handbook for Teachers in Catholic Agency Schools. The occasion also presented a forum for mutual exchange between the Bishop and the Teachers regarding the role and responsibility of everyone engaged in Teaching as a participation and continuation of the Teaching Ministry of Jesus Christ who is the Teacher of Truth, showing the Way that leads to Eternal Life.
(c) Sacred Heart Teachers' College in Bomana into its second year of operation offers us great hope to provide teachers for all our remote and isolated schools. We appeal to all communities to identify and recommend any former Grade 12s with keen interest in teaching in remote schools to benefit from this important facility for preparing future teachers.
We would like to acknowledge and express our appreciation to all our teachers in all our schools throughout the diocese, namely all the schools down the coastal and up in the mountain deaneries. We encourage and urge you all to make a difference to the children who are under your care. Our appeal goes to all parents and communities to give your full support and cooperation to all our teachers in all our schools.
We welcome to the Health Sector Ms Leontine Javia as the new Diocesan Health Secretary. She had had a preliminary visit to the Health Centre at Tapini during the occasion of the ordination of Fr. Casmiro Kito msc. She immediately visited Ononghe Parish to check out the reports of children dying from prolonged whooping cough. She confirmed in total 33 deaths with the highest 25 at Ononghe. The Health secretary had been proactive and very instrumental in the coordination of the Response to the out-break of whooping cough in the mountains. This crisis was first raised by the Fathers at Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Woitape.
Our sincere thanks and acknowledgement goes to Sr Marlene Dewar olsh who willingly carried out the role and responsibilities of the Diocesan Health Secretary in the interim in addition being Principal at the School of Nursing. We also acknowledge and appreciate all the hardworking and committed health workers throughout the diocese and encourage the staff and students of St. Gerard's Nursing School for the academic year 2011.
We look forward to the opening and blessing of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Health Centre in Tapini on the 23rd May 2011. This facility is a confirmation of our commitment to partnership with the Government for the well-being and common good of our people especially in the Goilala Mountains.
On the same token we acknowledge and appreciate Sr. Geraldine Arua olsh and all the staff and collaborators who continue to raise our awareness about the deadly HIV/AIDS virus and its destructive effects in the lives of our loved ones as families and communities. We appeal again to all of us to support and be compassionate towards those infected and living with the Virus. Let us continue to support Ametur House with food and other material needs. We also encourage everyone to take the opportunity and check out your HIV status by visiting our VCT and Health Centres.
7. RELOCATION OF BEREINA DIOCESE
The relocation program is currently going well on time with three (3) new staff houses towards final completion as well as minor renovations to upgrade the Chancery at Bereina. The OLSH Cathedral at Bereina will also undergo necessary renovations soon after Easter.
We would like to thank in a special way Sr. Kate McPhee SM after staying with us for almost two years left for Australia on 25th March 2011. We thank the Marist Sister for their generosity and missionary spirit in our diocese.
9. UPCOMING EVENTS
" I strongly recommend that you consult the 2011 calendar with the theme "LIVING UNITY TOGETHER" (Acts. 2:42-47/4:32-37). I also appeal for more consultation and collaboration between the Pastoral Vicar with the Parish Priests and all the pastoral agents in the diocese.
" I would like to urge everyone to pay special attention to your deanery and Parish programs regarding the different sectors and services. More creative initiatives could be introduced to make our Catholic and Christian witness more evident in our families and communities.
" The Opening of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Hospital Tapini will be on 24th May 2011.
" I will be going to Christ the King, Kamulai Parish for Easter this year 2011.
United with you in Prayer
Rochus Josef Tatamai msc
Bishop of Bereina