Father Mateus a priest, farmer, leader

Father Mateus Juang, a Societas Mariae Montfortana priest (SMM) congregation in the rice field in Western.

FATHER Mateus Juang arrived in PNG 19 years ago from Flores in West Timor, Indonesia but is not thinking of returning home soon.
He loves the people and the abundance of fertile land which he urges locals to farm to become self-reliant.
He arrived in PNG on May 25, 2001.
“All I heard about PNG was that it was a paradise.”
He was born on Sept 13, 1964. He comes from a family of four brothers and one sister. He grew up in a Christian home although he has many relatives who are Muslims.
He was motivated to become a priest at a young age.
“As a boy, I admire the lifestyle of German missionaries and Netherland priests, religious sisters and brothers. They offer their lives for others. They taught us to obey and trust God, serve and respect others, care for the sick, build schools and many disciplines offered.
“They have passion. One thing they taught people is self-reliance. They share lot about Jesus Christ through the example of Mother Mary in the Bible to trust God and serve others.”
Fr. Mateus joined the Montfort missionary seminary school to prepare for the priesthood vocation. He came to PNG after receiving a letter from the Most Rev Bishop Gilles Cote of the Daru-Kiunga diocese.
After Kiunga, he was being posted to the St. Michael parish in Bamu-Kamusie, Middle Fly.
The parish has 18 outstations. The last village is eight hours away on a dinghy with a 40 horse-power engine through the Arimea, Bamu and Gama rivers towards the border with Gulf.
Besides his spiritual duties, Fr. Juang carries out education, health and capacity-building services such as helping children’s groups, youths, women and inter-denomination meetings.
He loves farming the land.
“I did not go through any farming or agricultural training but I promote agriculture from a spiritual point of view and to help people achieve self-reliance on food security. My motto is: With faith and food we stay alive.”
He got people in his parish to plant rice in 2002. He started promoting sago as a staple food in 2012.
PNG culture and lifestyle are similar to what he experienced back home. So it was easy to quickly adapt.

“ My motto is: With faith and food, we stay alive.”

“One thing I love about PNG is the power of imagination. People easily create a drama, singing group, compose all kinds of songs.”
His father Maksimus Maru was a prayer leader and a hard working person who owned a lot of land. He was 74 when he died in 1987.
His mother Teresia Ngajim was illiterate but skilled in farming. She was 78 when she died in 1998.
They have a big family house and used to accommodate people from other places during the rice harvest season.
“Many people come to our garden for free food. I used to ask my mother why we were giving free food and greens. My mother would say the more people pick up fruits for free, the more plants would bear fruits.”
He wants to stay in PNG as long as possible.
“I have decided to stay in PNG for as long as I can. The biggest change and development is feeding ourselves without depending on imported food. Farming should be a priority. So I’m a priest for spiritual teaching and also for farming. It is healthy to eat local food.” So true.

One thought on “Father Mateus a priest, farmer, leader

  • Amen for Motto: With Faith and Food we stay alive, because from spiritual perspective view, we have two body that is, Physical and Spiritual (1Corinthian 15: 45-46)

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