The following is a presentation of the the Pastoral Letters, Circular Letters and other important communications of Bishop Donald.
The Pastoral Letter on Self-Reliance was published in 2013.
In this letter Bishop Don outlines the importance of moving toward the goal of self-reliance in the areas of finance and personnel. Dependence on foreign countries and foreign missionaries was necessary in the early years of the mission, but now is the time to take a step forward and begin to "stand on our own feet."
This Letter was published in 2012. The letter addresses the persistent belief in sorcery and witchcraft, also called by 'sanguma' and other local names. (The text has been slightly edited.)
Bishop Donald Francis Lippert, OFM Cap., is the third bishop of the Diocese of Mendi. He was nominated to the episcopal ministry by Pope Benedict on 22 November 2011. At the time, Most Rev. Francisco Padilla was the Apostolic Nuncio to Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. Bishop Don was ordained on 4 February 2012. His Eminence Sean Cardinal O'Malley, OFM Cap., was the prinicpal consecrator. The co-consecrators were Most Rev. Stephen Reichert, OFM Cap., Archbishop of Madang (and immediate predecessor of Bishop Don in Mendi) and the Most Rev. Bill Fey, OFM Cap., Bishop of Kimbe.
Bishop Don was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA on 12 June 1957 to Donald and Elaine (Unites) Lippert. He has two younger brothers, Dennis and Douglas - both of the Pittsburgh area. He attended St Catherine of Siena Grade School in Beechview, staffed by the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Baden, PA. He graduated from South Hills Catholic High School (staffed by the Christian Brothers) in 1975.
After a year at the University of Pittsburgh and two years at Duquesne University of the same city, Bishop Don entered Saint Fidelis Seminary, staffed by the Capuchins. He graduated in 1979. After a year in the Capuchin Novitiate, then in Annapolis, MD, he professed temporary vows as a Capuchin in 1980.
During his years of theological study at the Washington Theological Union he became involved in Latino ministry, influenced and inspired by the saintly example of now Cardinal Sean O'Malley, OFM Cap., who was then, the Director of the Spanish Catholic Center. Bishop Don would maintain contact Latino ministry for many years - even returned to the Spanish Catholic Center to serve as its director for two years.
Bishop Don served as a deacon at Parroquia San Miguel, Utuado, Puerto Rico. He was ordained a priest by then Bishop Sean O'Malley on June 8, 1985. After serving a year as assistant Vocation Director, he served for three years as parroquial vicar of Our Lady of Peace Parish in Conway, PA. After this he served for five years as parroquiala vicar with responsibiity for the Latino community at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Washington, DC.
He was then sent to the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium to do further studies in philosophy, after which he returned to teach philiosophy and serve as formation director for the college formation program at Borromeo Seminary in Cleveland, OH - a position he held for seven years.
After a two year assignment back in Washington mentioned above, Bishop Don was chosen as the Vicar Provincial of the Capuchin Province of Saint Augustine. He had previously served for six years as one of the provincial definitors (councillors).
After being sent to visit Papua New Guinea to represent the province at an anniversary celebration, Bishop Don was touched by the needs of the Capuchin Vice-Province there and inspired by the incredible ministry of the Capuchin missionaries who had served there. Some of the original Capuchin missionaries, were growing older, and some of the younger local friars were not yet prepared to take the reins. After a period of discernment, Bishop Don volunteered to go to PNG to "help out for a few years".
After a few months of orientation, Bishop Don was assigned as guardian and formation director at Capuchin Friars College and lecturer in philosophy at the Catholic Theological Institute in Bomana, near the captial city of Port Moresby. At the next Chapter of the Capuchins, he was elected to serve on the Vice-Provincial Council.
After almost five years serving in Bomana, Bishop Don was appointed to serve as the third Bishop of Mendi on 22 November 2011. (The previous bishop, Stephen Reichert, OFM Cap., had been appointed Archbishop of Madang the previous year.) Bishop Don was ordained on 4 February 2012 in Mendi in a joyful and colourful celebration of faith and culture with thousands of people from all over the diocese participating.
Evangelizing the youth and inviting them to encounter the person of Jesus Christ and to a fuller participation in the church is a high priority for the Diocese of Mendi. Youth Ministry in the diocese is organized by the Diocesan Youth Coordinator. Each of the three deaneries also has a Youth Coordinator; and each parish has a youth leader who is responsible for gathering the youth and leading them in formation and other activities. Following is the contact information for the Diocesas Youth Coordinator:
Fr Nelson Mathew
Diocesan Youth Coordinator
+675 7374 1073
+675 7206 1749
The protection of children and other vulnerable people is one of the major priorities of the Diocese of Mendi. Two secretariats share responsibility for implementing this priority: Caritas and Family Life. They do so, in collaboration with the National Catholic Office of Child Protection. Child Protection volunteers are trained in each parish, who give awareness to all parishioners of the necessity of protecting our children. Diocesan efforts at the protection of children support the Lukautim Pikinini Act and follow the protocols established by the Catholic Bishops' Conference.
In a related way, the Diocese of Mendi fully embraces the Right Relations protocols established by the Catholic Bishops Conference. Diocesan personnel are trained in these protocols. The following are the Right Relations contact persons who have been named for the Diocese of Mendi:
Father Paul Patlo, OFM Cap.
Sister Mary Norbert, MSC
Eastern & Central Deaneries
Fr Rober Gigmai
Sister Monica Pia, FSDP
Anyone with knowledge of possible violations of the Right Relations protocols should immediately contact the above mentioned people. If a crime is suspected, then the civil authorities should be contacted.
The mandate of the Family Life Secretariat is to promote and assist Catholic Family life in the Diocese of Mendi. This is coordinated with the Family Life Secretary who is assisted by Family Life Teams that are established in all the parishes. The Family Life Secretariat works with the Caritas Secretariat in promoting the protection of children. It also is involved with programs of awareness and action against domestic violence. Family prayer is encouraged as an important way of bringing the family together, following the well known saying, "The family that prays together, stays together."
The mandate of the Caritas Secretariat in the Diocese of Mendi mirrors in some ways, the mandate of the National Caritas Office. Areas of concern for this department include care of the poor, espcially in times of natural disaster; promotion of integral human development; promotion of care for the natural environment; the protection of children (in collaboration with the Family Life Secretariat), and others.
The contact information for the Diocesan Caritas Coordinator is as follows:
Mr Ian Apeit
P.O. Box 69
Mendi, S.H.P. 251
Papua New Guinea
Fr. Neil Blue, OFM Cap. - Parish Priest
Deacon Alen Muguya - Deacon
Tel: +675 7269 5772
The Church is the People of God, the Body of Christ, the Temple of the Holy Spirit. There is a refrain in PNG - "Yumi Sios" - "We are the Church!" Indeed we are the Church if we are formed by Word of God, nourished by the Sacraments and sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
Still, church buildings are central to our worship of the Living and True God. They are holy places, set apart for the celebration of the Liturgy, prayer, meditation and adoration.
There are thirty parishes and pastoral areas in the Diocese of Mendi. They are made up of many outstations. There are almost 350 outstations in the diocese. The diocese is broken up into three deaneries: the Eastern Deanery and the Central Deanery contain parishes which are located in the Southern Highlands Province. The Western Deanery contains parishes located in the Hela Province.
The Postal Address for all parishes, unless otherwise noted, is:
P.O. Box 69
Mendi, S.H.P. 251
Papua New Guinea
The following is a listing of the parishes and pastoral areas of the Diocese of Mendi arranged in alphabetical order by place.