The Catholic Church in the Highlands Region came together as a family to acknowledge, appreciate and thank God for the long service of the Michaelites, and share the joy of success for the last 50 years. Many religious clergy men and women from various congregations serving the people of God in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea joined the celebrations. A large number of Laity from the five dioceses joined the three-day celebration. The celebrations coincided with the centenary celebration of the foundation of the Michaelite Congregation and the 5th anniversary of the Divine Mercy Shrine at Ruquist, Kuli Parish.
Archbishop Douglas Young, Archbishop of Mt Hagen, Bishop Arnold Orowae, Bishop of Wabag, priests from the Highlands region as well as from other parts of the country were present for the concluding solemn Eucharistic celebration.
In his homily, Archbishop Douglas Young recalled some pioneer missionaries of the Michaelite congregation to PNG in 1970; Fr Ludwik Wypasek, CSMA, Fr Stanislaw Sniezek, CSMA, Fr Zdzislaw (Zyggy) Kruczek, CSMA. “They were all different with strong and unique characters displayed in their missions,” he said.
Being the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Archbishop Douglas thanked God for the Michaelites and their dedication to the mission in PNG. “We ask Mother Mary and her parents, Joachim and Anna, for protection, commitment and the strength to remain faithful to God’s divine plan,” he said.
Reflecting on the last 50 years, he said, “The perfect way to be thankful is to share what we receive today with the next generation. We certainly cannot pay back the pioneer missionaries for their service, but we must share with those who are with us today, as well as those who come later. We are here today to thank God and the Michaelite missionaries for their answer to the call for a mission in this part of the world. The missionaries brought light to darkness, joy where there was fear and hope where there was sadness. At the appointed time, this also reached the Highlands of PNG. We should be proud of those who brought us this good news.
The missionaries, by their vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience, promise to give up certain possessions, be married to Jesus and other people, and to remain obedient to the Lord's call.
By the vow of poverty, they promise to leave their homes, family, and culture, to spread the good news to others. By the vow of Chastity, they promise to give up marriage and bind themselves totally with Jesus and with people of other places and culture, those whom they know little about, and who at times don’t love and respect them. In this gesture, they manifest God’s love and mercy for all humanity. By their vow of Obedience, they promise to obey their superiors as being obedient to God, like Abraham, Moses, and Mary.
Celebrating this jubilee should also drive us to make some resolutions to follow in the footsteps of missionaries. Missions are successful when people learn from the missionaries and continue in their footsteps, spreading the good news in loving service of others.”
At the end of the Holy Mass, Fr Bogdan Swierczewski, CSMA, Deputy Provincial of the Michaelites in PNG and the Pacific, read out a letter from their General Superior, Fr Dariusz Wilk, who was unable to join the celebration due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Michaelites are only based in the Archdiocese of Mt. Hagen. They had moved to the Diocese of Wabag and moved back to Mt. Hagen. Currently, there are five (5) priests, eight (8) seminarians, and one postulant in PNG. Their Headquarters is in Rebiamul, Mt. Hagen.
The Congregation was founded in 1897 by Blessed Father Bronisław Markiewicz (1842-1912).