Catholic sisters celebrate 100 years of mission to PNG

Faith

By GLENDA AWIKIAK
One hundred years of mission to PNG by the Ancilla Domini Sisters (AD Sisters) was celebrated with a thanksgiving ceremony in Waigani last Saturday.
The Catholic faithful of Hela, Central, National Capital District, Milne Bay and Goilala came with gifts of appreciation ranging from fresh garden food, pigs, cash and others.
The nuns were established in 10 provinces and localities including Goilala, Tapini and Bereina (Central), NCD, Milne Bay, Northern and Hela. Mother Superior Sr Mary Garnier they had 36 nuns currently still serving with the eldest being 92.
“We had our establishment in West Sepik but we closed up because no-one joined to serve and carry on the work there,” she said
“We already have more than 10 young women who are now under training to join the congregation and carry on the work we, the older ones, are doing and would leave behind.”
Chairman of the Southern Region Group Gabriel Karahure said establishment of Catholic churches in Gulf was associated with the AD Sisters.
The Congregation of the Handmaids of Our Lord (Ancilla Domini- AD Sisters) was founded in Papua by Archbishop Alain Marie Guynot de Boismenu MSC, the Vicar Apostolic of Papua.
Six young women, five from Papua and one from Thursday Island, made up the founding group.
They were put under the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (OLSH) for their formation.
These women made their first profession on Nov 30, 1920.
A year later a young French lady joined the congregation and became the first superior.
She was Mother Marie Therese Noblet.
The congregation was founded to answer a need in the young church in Papua. The sisters were to provide support for the priests, especially those working in remote, isolated areas.
The sisters opened schools in the stations, provided medical services to the people, took care of the church, gave religious instruction, walked to the villages to visit the people, made gardens to feed station personnel, and cooked and did housekeeping for the priests.
At the motherhouse, a place was built for sisters to take care of orphaned babies.
In 1956, the congregation began to move its headquarters and novitiate to a site just outside of the capital, Port Moresby. This became known as ‘Nazareth’.
It was easier for the sisters to make use of all the opportunities available to them to obtain an education.
In 2003, the ministry started getting sisters from Australia, France and also Papua New Guinea.
The sisters are now working in PNG and in Australian in seven different dioceses.
Their ministries include teaching, nursing, pastoral work, child-care, adult literacy programmes, health awareness (primary health care), counselling, co-ordination of two pastoral centres and serving at the Apostolic Nunciature.

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