The Catholic church in PNG is very diverse, with missionaries from all over the world. A nearby religious order is the Congregation of St. Michael the Archangel, or the Michaelites, originally from Poland. Earlier this semester they had a big celebration of the anniversary of their missions in PNG, and used the occasion to gather Michaelites from around the world for a meeting.
They had a big thanksgiving mass in Kuli, a village that just happens to be our Rector’s hometown and one of the first places we visited when we came to PNG.
They invited the Apostolic Nuncio, or the papal diplomat, for PNG to come as the chief celebrant.
The Nuncio, Archbishop Michael Banach, is a kind and open man originally hailing from Worchester, MA. We have heard two homilies by him now, and he brought the same message from the Pope to the people of PNG in each.
Archbishop Banach relayed, “Pope Francis wants you to know that God loves you. He also wants you to know that he loves you. Finally, he wants you to know that God is merciful.”
Something we hadn’t seen in a liturgy before was the presentation of the gospel in a special “covenant box” – it seems to be a cross between the ark of the covenant and a mini portable grass hut.
Among the honored guests was the superior of all the Michaelites on the planet, visiting from Poland.
We were especially glad to celebrate with the Michaelites as we have one of their seminarians on campus new this semester!
Sadly, we did not get a picture of us with the Nuncio – not even when Archbishop Douglas Young came to drag the Nuncio away from his philosophical discussion with Brandon, saying “I’ve got to get this transcendental ego on the road”! (He had come looking for Brandon- we saw him making “fluffy hair” kind of motions above his head to indicate for whom he was searching!) We will have to take one when the Nuncio comes to visit Good Shepherd Seminary at the end of the fall semester to install the second-year students in the Ministry of Lector.