MORE than 80,000 Catholics in Enga province are mourning the death of the retired Catholic Bishop of Wabag, Hermann Raich.
Bishop Raich, 75, a Divine Word Missionaries (SVD), died last Friday morning at Sangurap Catholic mission in Wabag, Enga province.
After serving the church in Wabag for more that 45 years, he retired as a bishop last year but refused to return to his home country, Austria.
“Instead, he said he wanted to breathe his last breath and die in Enga,” his successor, Bishop Arnold Orowae said yesterday.
Bishop Orowae said Bishop Raich died around 4am after suffering from illness associated with old age in the past few months.
Bishop Raich was born on May 2, 1934, in Jerzens, Tirol, Austria.
He was brought up in a strong Catholic family, from which his four siblings also joined the religious orders, two as SVD brothers and two missionary sisters.
After high school, Raich joined the SVD in 1946 in Vienna and was ordained a priest on April 29,1962.
He arrived in PNG on March 19, 1964, and was posted to Enga province.
Bishop Orowae said as a young priest Raich was sent to Kandep and looked after the parish there with another priest before he was sent to start his own parish at Mang, also in Kandep.
Bishop Raich served as a parish priest at Mang for nearly 16 years before being transferred to Sangurap in Wabag in 1980.
After only two years at Sangurap, Bishop Raich was appointed as the first bishop of Wabag.