JOURNEY WITH ACN is our Friday newsletter which will be regularly posted to our blog.
Our weekly newsletter was designed to provide us with an opportunity to acquaint you with the needs of the Catholic Church around the world – and with some of the projects we have been able to realize together with ACN benefactors.
This week: Papua New Guinea
Support for the pastoral program of the Archdiocese of Port Moresby
By ACN International
Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada
Papua New Guinea covers an area roughly the same size as Spain, though it has just 6.7 million inhabitants. The territory also extends over more than 600 islands, which can only be reached by air or by boat. Where it is not possible to travel by air, by boat or by car, the priests and pastoral workers have to travel on foot. This is also the case when travelling to the Archdiocese of Port Moresby, which was established in November 1966. Since then. not only has the number of Catholics grown steadily in Papua New Guinea, but the social importance of the Catholic Church in the area has greatly increased.
Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, is something of a melting pot. Having grown steadily over the years, it is now home to people from a number of different origins and ethnicities, cultures and religious persuasions, as well as languages spoken.
“The 600,000 or so inhabitants, of whom many are Catholics, come from every part of the country, as well as from neighbouring countries and from overseas,” emphasizes Archbishop John Ribat. Since taking office in March 2008, he has launched a pastoral program that continues to operate to this day. “In order to prevent this variety from degenerating into division, we want to strengthen the sense of togetherness within the archdiocese and build on the spirit of solidarity among the faithful and their priests, and between the various parishes and other pastoral groupings,” he adds.
There are an estimated 300,000 Catholics living in the Archdiocese of Port Moresby. This number is but an estimate because there are no reliable statistics. The diocese is subdivided into 19 parishes and also maintains 100 primary and secondary schools, as well as two hospitals. In some cases the distances between the individual parishes are considerable. In the past there was little contact between the various parish priests on account of the very poor infrastructure. But now, and at the express wish of the priests themselves, all the 70 priests of the diocese (roughly 2 of 3 belonging to religious congregations) regularly meet at the archbishop’s house to exchange ideas and experiences.
“As a result, the understanding of the various demands on the pastoral ministry in the parishes has grown, whether in the country or in the town,” the archbishop reports.
There is also closer co-operation and coordination between other initiatives within the archdiocese such as : a service of medical volunteers helping in the field of health care for mothers and their children and in alcohol prevention; this, according to the vicar general, Father Roderigo Campilan, is supporting hundreds of people and benefiting thousands of others. A coordinator for Catholic education who will supervise the teaching of the faith and the religious instruction has also been appointed, both for the Church schools and state schools.
ACN is supporting this three-year pastoral program with a contribution of $54 000.