Plotinus in the Jungle

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A New School Year, New Life and New Challenges

I, due to the great generosity of my wife, spent the first week of February in Melbourne, attending the Australasian Society for Classical Studies annual conference.  It was great to be around other scholars and to have my own scholarly gifts affirmed!  I delivered a paper on Augustine on Platonism and Creation.  I returned to PNG on the 7th and the 8th was the mass kicking off our new school year!  Here are most of the faculty and students together in the chapel (the light and background there are strange, so it’s not a great picture unfortunately):

IMG_2212  Back row, left to right.  John Ding – a lay man and the director of our program that trains our students to teach religious education classes.  Fr. Thomas – a missionary priest from India, teaches history of philosophy and Scripture.  Fr. Paul Walua – Priest of the local parish in Banz.  He teaches block courses in theology.  Fr. Raphael Mel – Former Dean of Studies, now comes in two days a week to teach pastoral courses.  Fr. Paul Sundu – The rector, teaches church history and systematic theology.  Archbishop Young – Australian missionary, chairman of our governing council.  Peter and Steven – Third-year students, today’s altar servers.  Fr. Joe Mesa – A missionary from Indonesian, our parish priest.  Paul Misic – A seminarian during his pastoral work.  Will probably be ordained as a deacon this year.  Gabriel – Third Year Student.  Rebecca Zimmerman – Bursar extraordinaire!

The men sitting in the front are our students.  The old man in the center is a widower in his 60’s.  He attended minor seminary back in the late 1960’s.  Now his bishop is sending him to do a crash course in theology so that he can be ordained as a priest!  His name is Ansgar Minak.

As some of you may know, Good Shepherd has been having enrollment problems and thus financial problems.  There is a preparatory program that all our students attend before coming here and this program added another year of preparatory studies.  This meant that last year we did not get a new First Year Class and this year we have no Second Year Class.  Last year, there were only 11 residential students by the year’s end.  This year, there are 1o in the first year, 4 in the third year, Ansgar, and three in the non-residential BA program – so 15 residential students; 18 total.  However, if we keep having new classes of 10+, then we’ll have 30 students in two years, which would be closer to the number we need to keep operating.

So please pray for vocations in PNG!

One consequence of not having many students is that it is difficult to get the bishops to assign us all the staff that we need to function well.  The full time residential staff is us, the rector, Fr. Thomas, and Mr. Ding.  Fr. Raphael comes in two days a week.  Fr. Christian Sieland, our Dean of Studies, comes in two and half days.  Fr. Paul Walua is in one morning a week.  Robert, a Marist brother, comes on Fridays to teach computer courses.  This puts a heavy load on the residential staff in supervising the students and running the seminary.  Thus, in addition to my teaching, I serve as the Assistant Dean of Studies, I organize sporting events, I make sure the water pumps are turned on three times a day, I oversee the academic office when the Dean is not here, and I’m also the faculty liaison with the librarian; in addition to directing the BA program.  The last two years have been busy and stressful for me.  Please pray that I am able to balance all my responsibilities and still continue to make progress on my dissertation and have time for my family.

Here are the staff, though without Frs. Raphael and Paul Walua:

IMG_2214

Left to Right: Br. Robert, Fr. Paul, Rebecca, Me, Sister Regina the librarian, Fr. Christian the Dean of Studies, Fr. Thomas.  Mr. Ding is in front.

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