Papua New Guinea is situated South of the Equator and North of Australia. It includes : the East of the island of New Guinea – the West forming Irian Jaya that belongs to Indonesia – the archipelago of Bismark – of which the main islands are New Brittany, New Ireland and Manus – and the North part of Solomon islands of which the main islands are Bougainvillea and Buka. The whole is part of Melanesia.
Papua New Guinea was discovered by Portuguese navigators in the 16th century. It is the second island of the world in area (after Greenland). The European colonization began about 1884 when the two powers : Germany and England raised their flags on the North and South coasts respectively. The island was divided in two parts : the South part (English) was named Papua. After a few years Papua and New Guinea were under the protectorate of Australia. Then, grouped as one administration, they became an independent state on September 16th 1975.
This is the Papuan flag. On the right, at the top, the bird of paradise which is the emblem of the country ; below, on the left, the cross of the south.
Papua New Guinea is a country said to be ” Christian “. The Marists Fathers arrived in the Solomon islands in 1845 and remained the only ones until 1959. The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Issoudun came to New Brittany in 1882 and 1885 on the East coast and were the only ones until 1958. The Society of Missionaries of the Divine Word (S.D.V.) settled on the North cost in 1896 ; they were the only ones until 1952. The first women Congregation to come to P.N.G. was ” the daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart ” (O.L.S.H.) in 1884. The Missionaries Sisters of the Holy Spirit (SSpS) arrived in 1899. In the first years, the work is limited to the north and south coastal regions. It is only in 1934 that the first missionaries (S.V.D.) ventured inside the country, in the mountains. They went on foot from Madang (north coast) through the jungle to contact people completely isolated, from the rest of the world. The missionary settlement is done in a difficult context : primitive conditions of life, very dispersed populations, uneven ground, very poor means of communications, a multiplicity of tribes and languages (more than 800).
The Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus arrived in P.N.G. in 1986, at the request of Bishop William KURTZ, of Kundiawa. Seven Sisters were sent to P.N.G. ; from the very beginning, the group was international : 3 Canadians, 2 Texans, 1 French and 1 English. From this group there are still 3 Sisters. As elsewhere, in the world, our mission is to make known to all, particularly the poor, the tenderness and merciful love of the Father revealed in Jesus. During the first years, the Sisters were mainly committed to pastoral work and care of the sick. In 1990, the Bishop called upon 3 SSCJ : 2 teachers and a nurse for Kundiu in a secondary school run , at the time, by the Brothers of Saint Jean-Baptiste de la Salle. For 20 years, there has always been, at least, one teaching Sister in the school and at times a nurse in the Health Centre.
From their arrival in P.N.G., the Sisters were in contact with young girls who wanted to give their life to the Lord. If Christian families are proud to have a boy as a priest, it is more difficult for a girl to become religious Sister. People who paid a small sum for schooling, expect the young girl to find work for helping the family. The debt is never over…. There also very strong customs concerning the marriage – the woman is made for procreation – to this is added the problem of the dowry. An educated girl ” is worth ” several thousands of ” kina ” and a few dozens of pigs ! Nevertheless, some families are generous enough to offer their daughters to the service of the Church. Our first two Papuan Sisters made profession in 1999.
After more than 16 years in the diocese of Kundiawa, in October 2002, we took the risk of closing down the community of Migende where two of our Sisters had an important post at the diocesan level, this to open a community on the north coast of the island, at Megiar, in the diocese of Madang. Then, in January 2010, we had the great joy of opening a third community in Goglme (diocese of Kundiawa). This community is composed of 3 native-born Sisters : 2 teachers and a nurse. Since 1986, the small mustard seed has grown on Papuan Land ; now we are 13 Sisters in the District of whom 8 native-born Sisters (3 final vows).
In the footsteps of Angélique, each Sister wherever she is, works for the promotion of persons, through education, care of the sick, pastoral work and various responsibilities in the diocese. In 2009, year of the centenary of our name ” Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus “, we started to accompany a group of Christians on the way to become Associated Members. We have 3 groups (Megiar, Kondiu , Kundiawa) , a total of 35 to 40 persons. Each group meets once a month, in different places, for a time of prayer and reflection on the spirituality of the Sacred Heart.
Sisters Denise and Edith with 3 women in traditional costumes.
Our four last Sisters with Bishop Henk Te Maarsen former bishop of Kundiawa and the actual Bishop Anton Bal.
At present, two teach in primary schools, one is in second year at the training college and the fourth one is preparing for pastoral work.
Young girls in formation welcoming a few of our probable candidates.
This year we have 11 young girls doing studies at different levels : 2 novices in the second year, 3 postulants, 6 candidates ; 8 of them are at the Formation House in Kundiawa with two training Sisters and 3 are at Kundiu with Sister Denise Samson who is now our new District Superior : 2 are studying in grade 10 and the third is doing her 10th year by correspondence.