Catholic nun departs after serving PNG for 46 years


SISTER Marie Turner, a Catholic nun from England who has served for 46 years in Papua New Guinea, is returning home.
She was a nurse before she became a nun and it was inevitable that she would spend the rest of her life at Blackpool in the north of England where the Daughters of Wisdom have a private hospital.
“God had other plans. Even from the beginning, he started to stretch me from my village and family to the nearest city, Manchester, for high school then to London for nurse training,” she said.
“Then from England to Scotland for my novitiate, and to Ireland as nurse tutor, from where in 1970 I became conscious of my missionary call.”
She was initially interested in South America and even started to learn Spanish.
“But my congregation leader asked me to go to the other side of the world, Papua New Guinea, as nurses were needed,” she said.
She went through a course in midwifery before arriving in the country in July 1971.
From 1971 to 1986, she worked as a midwife at the Daru General Hospital, then to the Matkomnai and Kungim Health sub centres in the jungle of Western.
She got in touch with the Movement for a Better World, a small team of priests, religious and lay people promoting renewal in the church according to the communitarian spirit of the second Vatican Council.
“I felt God calling me for this renewal work. At the same time many nursing positions were localised and so it was an easy transition into pastoral work,” she said.
She travelled through most of PNG for retreats and training courses.
She said the period from 1987 to 1997 was a time of greater international missionary experience.
“I was on the MBW international formation and coordinating team working in four countries of Africa and six of Asia for seven years,” she said.
“During these years I touched God in cultures, in poverty, in apartheid, through wisdom spirituality, in relationships.”
Turner said in 1998 she was invited to return to PNG as executive secretary of the Conference of Women Religious which later evolved into the Federation of Religious.
“I was based at Xavier Institute in Bomana for seven years and in touch with many religious men and women.
“In 2006 to 2007, I ministered at the Catholic Theological Institute as part time lecturer and registrar. From 2007 to 2015, I was based in Kiunga.
“In 2016 to 2017, I worked part time at CBC as archivist and also with many religious groups as resource person.”
Turner said after her 46 years as a missionary, she felt that God was calling her to return to England to see what lay ahead there and to leave PNG in God’s hands.
“When I came to PNG in 1971, it was to a missionary church where the foreigners were very active in spreading the Word of God,” she said.
“There were many catechist and local men who helped the priest in this work especially in translations and catechesis.
“Now as I leave PNG after 46 years as a missionary, the church is very different. There are many PNG bishops, priests, brothers and sisters, some even ministering in other countries.
“There are many lay people involved in all kinds of ministries at national and local level. Yes you can say with meaning Yumi yet I sios (We are the church). Thank you for helping me give thanks to God.”