His Grace, Kurian Mathew Vayalunkal, D.D., (Apostolic Nuncio) traveled to Mendi with Archbishop Douglas Young, SVD, (Archbishop of Mount Hagen - Metropolitan Archbishop of the Highlands Region of Papua New Guinea). They were joined by His Lordship Bishop Dariusz Kalusa, MSF, (Bishop of Goroka), Bishop Donald Lippert, OFM Cap., (Bishop of Mendi), scores of priests, consecrated religious and thousands of faithful people who had traveled from the remotest areas of the Southern Highlands and Hela Provinces to participate in the more than five days of religious and cultural celebrations marking the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the Diocese of Mendi.
Adding to the joy of the celebration was the participation of more than forty young people from Saints Peter & Paul Parish, Det who received their First Holy Communion from the hands of the Nuncio at the Holy Mass. They had been prepared by their catechists under the direction of their parish priest, Father Sunny Mathew, OFM Cap. They were dressed smartly in clothes that reflected the meaning of the celebration. They are a sign of slow but steady growth of the Church and the critical mission of passing on the Faith to the next generation.
The Nuncio was noticeably moved by the celebrations. Later he spoke of the vitality and vibrancy which characterized the celebration - signs of the vitality and vibrancy of the local church of the Diocese of Mendi. It was observed that just sixty years ago there were no local Catholics... and now, sixty years later, there is a young and vibrant Catholic community celebrating their common faith in Jesus Christ.
As the celebrations came to a close, you could sense a certain sadness or reluctance of the people to leave. The celebrations, the sharing of life and culture and faith, were so beautiful and so powerful that no one wanted them to end. It was if the people did not want to wake from a beautiful dream. It was not unlike Peter, James and John wanting to build tents to remain forever on the Mount of the Transfiguration. But as then, so now, the work of evangelization and formation in the faith must continue. The way of the Cross must be traveled in the footsteps of the Master who will lead us by that way to the eternal joys of the Resurrection.
(Seventh and last in the series relating events of the celebrations marking the Golden Jubilee in the Diocese of Mendi. Thank you for sharing this experience with us. Let's continue to keep each other in thought and prayer.)
Photo credits: Demoti Magini