Papua New Guinea is the third largest island nation in the world. In some parts of the country, the Catholic Church has only been present for a few generations. Nevertheless, more than a quarter of the approximately eight million inhabitants are Catholic today. In addition to its pastoral tasks, the Church in Papua New Guinea is primarily concerned with the social and spiritual needs of the faithful. Many feel torn between tradition and modernity and are searching for identity.
The Church in Papua New Guinea faces great challenges. The rugged land is extremely rough, and there are few roads. To make matters worse, a myriad of different languages is spoken. Poverty in the population is alarmingly high, as many areas of the country are still severely underdeveloped today. At the same time, technical progress, digitalisation and globalisation have also reached Papua New Guinea – however, many feel overrun by the rapid development and socially disadvantaged. Here, the Church provides orientation to the people and supports them in all their needs.
»The Church in Papua New Guinea gives people orientation in their search for a new identity.«
The Church in Papua New Guinea faces immense social and pastoral problems. Therefore, not only priests and religious are indispensable for pastoral care, but also well-trained lay people. For example, ACN has supported a programme that enables young people to acquire skills as group leaders for youth groups, as well as in family pastoral care and child protection. Funds were also provided for the training of prospective priests and the continuing education of priests in the year under review. Furthermore, we assisted in the purchase of new vehicles for pastoral care, as most of the parishes on the island are extremely vast and impassable.
Recharging the spiritual batteries
The ministry of priests in Papua New Guinea is often difficult and exhausting. Their parishes cover huge areas, often even spread across several islands. This means hours of arduous journeys by sea or land to minister to the faithful. Periods of spiritual recovery become all the more important.
ACN supported a a six-day retreat for the 24 priests and the bishop of Wewak Diocese. A letter from Bishop Józef Roszyński reached us with the words: “We were able to recharge our spiritual batteries through joint prayer, fraternal sharing and lectures. Thank you, ACN!”