This is February 2020 following a fast pace holiday that began in December. I had the opportunity to return home to rest from the challenges of my first two years here in PNG and prepare for my new assignment this year. I had an amazing time visiting with as many family members, friends as well as my fellow St. Bartholomew parishioners. I wish to thank everyone who made my visit home special. I am truly blessed by your compassion, support, prayers and visits while at home.
It was only a day after arriving back to Kimbe that the Episcopal Ordination of our new Bishop, John Bosco Auram, was about to begin. Jet lag was not going to stop me from attending and the excitement taking place around me was enough to keep me awake. The ordination itself took place outside in a recreational park in the middle of town.
Saturday, January 25, turned out to be a glorious day - filled with warm sunshine, tribal drum beats from various locations, a large choir rehearsed while parishioners and participants alike anticipated the blessings the day would bring. Many dressed in their decorative bilas (traditional dress) to fulfill their role within the ceremony that was about to take place. It all began on time at 8:30 am with an escort by the warriors who, with their spears dancing joyously, cleared the path for the clergy to slowly meander their way through the wet grass and the gathered crowd toward an authentic stage decorated in the traditional style of PNG. The priests and Bishops, many visiting from other provinces and countries, Bishop William Fey who can now officially retire, the Archbishop of Rabaul, and the one and only Cardinal of PNG, Cardinal John Ribat were accompanied by the sing-sing of the choir as they sang the entrance hymns.
Each village within the Diocese of Kimbe was well represented, as warriors and/or dancers brought their assigned item(s) to the altar to present to the mass or to the Bishop. Then it came that moment when Bishop-to-be John Bosco Auram was hoisted into the air three times before he was led to the altar to begin his ordination. He was properly ordained during the mass with all the pageantry expected for such an occasion that announced to all that a new Bishop was ready to shepherd his flock in the Diocese of Kimbe. The mass began at 8:30 a.m. and ended at 12:10 p.m. Those of us sitting in the stands, or standing under makeshift palm trees specially placed inside the park, were truly blessed by the mass and the jubilance of all who participated in the mass.
Prayers must have been continuous by everyone associated with the event as it turned out to be a beautiful day, especially for an outdoor event. I was told that thunderstorms occurred on a daily basis leading up to this blessed day.
Sunday began just as beautiful too as the installation mass was celebrated again in the park. It was a little sad for me as I said good-bye to Sr Bernadette who had to leave for the airport. She was transferred back to her beloved home of Rabaul. I look forward to visiting her sometime soon as she begins her new assignment.
On both days, a true PNG lunch and dinner followed both masses with the Religious sharing in the celebration of our new Bishop. I sat with the MSC Sisters and was warmly welcomed back by many who knew I just returned from my holiday. It is so nice to be back.
Both days continued into the afternoon with speeches from the religious dignitaries, the Bishops, the Archbishop, the Cardinal and prominent religious and village leaders. Of course there were gifts, presentations, and song and dance to finish out the day. Only on Sunday around 5 pm did it decide to rain, but that didn’t stop the dancers who had waited patiently the whole day for their turn to honor the new Bishop. They danced despite the rain and the thunder taking place around them. I was also honored to finally have my opportunity to dance with the Mammas Group at dinner on Sunday night. Cameras were rolling, but unfortunately mine was not one of them. I also had the opportunity to visit with Cardinal John Ribat (Cardinal of PNG and also the uncle to Sr Bernadette). I thanked him for allowing us to stay at his place in Rabaul my first year in PNG and for the opportunity to meet and stay with his family. We also talked about his visit to the USA the year before.
Bishop Bill will sadly be leaving PNG at the end of February. I will truly miss our conversations and visits as I say good-bye to my Won-tok (someone who speaks the same language).
I will hopefully tell you about my new assignment in my next blog as well as my new home on the grounds of the Diocese. So far so good. This is also a great time to finally learn the language of Tok-Pidgin. Again, I thank you for your support, prayers and encouragement during my visit home and as I continue my mission in PNG and I, in return, will pray for you, too. Your comments are always appreciated.
Thank you and God bless.