Plotinus in the Jungle

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Ordination of Fr. Christian Sieland

I, Rebecca, took my first trip “by myself” (by that I mean without Brandon or Annie- I rode with Fr. Raphael and John Ding) a few weeks ago, to the mountainous Simbu province for the priestly ordination of Fr. Christian Sieland. We left early and it took us about four hours- half of which was bumpy mountain driving.

Misty morning mountains

Misty morning mountains

The ordinand, who I hadn’t previously met, is the son of a German father and a Simbu mother, and had just finished six years of study in Rome!

Stopping for some breakfast at a roadside stand

Stopping for some breakfast at a roadside stand

I was told he knows English, Tok Pisin, Simbu, German, Italian, Latin, and maybe even some other romance languages. He is one of 7 children, and his brother Martin, whom I had met briefly, used to teach computing here at Good Shepherd.

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Most of the actual rite was the same- this is the worldwide church after all. One of the few differences I noticed in the rite itself was that the ordinand gets a woven grass mat and pillow to lie down on during the litany of the saints! (Speaking of saints, The local nuns in the area were Sisters of St. Therese the Little Flower, so there were songs to St. Therese and his first vestments had an image of her on them.) But what happened before and after were quite different.

The entrance procession

The entrance procession

Many priests from the area- Fr. Michael, the vice-rector of GSS, in the middle

Many priests from the area- Fr. Michael, the vice-rector of GSS, in the middle

The ordinand entering surrounded by his tribesmen

The ordinand entering surrounded by his tribesmen

Fr. Christian chose to wear a roman collar and vestments as he entered. I’ve seen other pictures of ordinations- including that of the rector of Good Shepherd- in which the ordinand is also traditionally attired. This was the first time I’d seen these fur-dreadlock skirts!

A group of catechists who brought up the gospel

A group of catechists who brought up the gospel

Another interesting difference was how many people came! One estimate was five thousand. As we drove up and up the mountains, we kept meeting people trudging up on foot on their way to the same place. It had to be held outdoors for this reason! Umbrellas kept going up and down throughout the service to shield off sun and rain.

The altar is on the roofed stage

The altar is on the roofed stage

Then, after the service, there were many speeches,during which the moderator tried to keep everyone, even the two archbishops present, to three minutes only. And then the Fr. Sieland was presented with gifts!

Money attached to poles, with a sign giving the total amount

Money attached to poles, with a sign giving the total amount

We left while he was still giving out his first blessings, to go eat some of the feast laid out before we got back in the car to drive home before it got dark! (There was so much meat. Chicken, and more chicken, and pork, and fish! I chatted with some nuns while we ate.)

Waving people in the foreground, the road we're going to travel visible in the background

Waving people in the foreground, the road we’re going to travel visible in the background

This is pretty much what the road looked like for all the mountain driving

This is pretty much what the road looked like for all the mountain driving

Anna Ding poses as we take a break from driving

Anna Ding poses as we take a break

It was a fascinating and lovely trip, and I was very glad I got to go along! (Although I do not think I will try to go to Simbu and back in one day again.)

Beautiful

Beautiful

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3 Comments

  1. Bethany says:

    Congratulations to the new priest! It all looks very festive. And wow – those mountain roads look treacherous!

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  2. […] and narrow river valleys between steep mountains.  It’s the same route Rebecca took when she went to an ordination in Chimbu last September.  We stopped at the death site and the grave of Fr. Morschhauser, one of  the original Catholic […]

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  3. […] school year began the first week of February with a weeklong retreat for the seminarians given by Fr. Christian Sieland. The next week started off with our opening Mass and handover/takeover ceremony from our outgoing […]

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