Lae (Agenzia Fides) - Fifty years ago the Gospel took root in Lae, the capital of Morobe province. As Fides learns, Catholics, other Christians and other religions celebrated the anniversary in a solemn ceremony in which the Apostolic Nuncio in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, Archbishop Matthew Kurian Vayalunkal, together with the Bishops and priests, celebrated holy Mass to invoke the Lord's blessing on the diocese and to thank the missionaries for the fruits of their labor in Morobe province.
"We are gathered here – he said to the assembly which met in recent days in the school of Santa Maria - to commemorate the 50th anniversary of our diocese of Lae. It is an opportunity to remember the history of the Church in our country. We rejoice, we give praise to God, and go forward".
Bishop Christian Blouin, at the head of Lae community, thanked the "four pioneer missionaries of the diocese of Lae: Fr. Anthony Mulderink, one of the four, is here to attend this celebration. We want to take this opportunity to thank him and his confreres, missionaries of Mariannhill", extending his gratitude to all people of good will, locally and overseas. In the early years of missionary activity, there were no modern means of transportation or communication, and "the priests and nuns faced great difficulties", he said.
The vicar general of the diocese, Fr. Arnold Schmitt, remarked: "The main work of the early missionaries was the education and formation of Catholic families. We continued to do so and yet we continue today, reading the signs of times. For example, he added, the growing number of street children today is worrying and we are trying to find ways to deal with this and many other new challenges".
The birth of the Catholic community in the province of Morobe dates from the time of the Gold Rush, in 1927. However, the ecclesiastical district of Lae was created by Pope John XXIII with the erection of the first Apostolic Vicariate on June 18, 1959, entrusted to the congregation of the missionaries of Mariannhill, which later became a diocese in 1966. Today, the diocese of Lae counts 35 thousand baptized, grouped in 16 parishes, led by 14 priests while there are 28 Catholic schools at the service of the population in the diocesan territory. (PA-BN) (Agenzia Fides 30/11/2016)