By KEVIN PAMBA
DIVINE Word University (DWU) is a special place for students from different backgrounds to come together and study and engage in peace and harmony with each other as Jesus Christ the “Divine Word” has taught us.
Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Madang Stephen Reichert OFM Cap delivered this message to the students and staff in his homily during the Eucharistic Celebration to mark the opening of the DWU academic year at the Madang campus on Friday 10th February, 2017.
Abp Reichert encouraged the students to recognize their important roles and responsibilities as young men and women attending a Catholic/Christian university in a developing country with a myriad of challenges.
He called on the students to “be proud of your ethnic heritage and traditions, but leave ethnic rivalries outside the gate of this university (because) we are all children of God.”
Abp Reichert began his homily by welcoming staff and students to Divine Word University and to this Eucharistic celebration marking the beginning of the 2017 Academic Year.
For those who came from other provinces, he said Beautiful Madang has of late become an eyesore but DWU has remained a beautiful campus, carefully tended and well-known as a safe, peaceful and pleasant environment in which to pursue one’s higher education.
He congratulations those who have earned a place at the university saying, “If you use this opportunity well, you will gain great benefit from your time here.”
The theme of the 2017 academic year is ‘Advancing quality collaborative e-learning accessible to all.
The archbishop referred to an explanation by President of the University Professor Cecilia Nembou in the 2017 DWU Diary who spoke about gaining knowledge in the best and most effective way in the modern context.
“It is scholarly, something of the head and of the mind. You have to use your head, think straight here at DWU.
“But this university also has a heart, a soul, a spirit, a social and spiritual environment in which professors can more easily transmit knowledge and students can best grow in wisdom and grace.”
He said a Catholic/Christian university needs to recognize its special socio-spiritual atmosphere and environment that exists on its campus, for it to prosper in its mission and proposed that the spiritual theme for this year to be taken from Psalm 133 of the Old Testament.
It reads, “How wonderful it is, how pleasant it is, for God’s people to live together in harmony!”
Archbishop Reichert said the theme was spot on and should take a prominent space on the campus for all to see and be reminded daily of the kind of lifestyle fostered on the campus where everyone lived together in harmony.
Nearly 50 years ago, on January 1, 1968, Pope Blessed Paul VI instituted the first World Day of Peace. This day of reflection and prayer for peace has been celebrated by the Catholic Church worldwide every year since then.
This year Pope Francis began his message on the Day of Peace in this way: “At the beginning of this New Year, I offer heartfelt wishes of peace to the world’s peoples and nations, to heads of state and government, and to religious, civic and community leaders.
I wish peace to every man, woman and child and I pray that the image and likeness of God in each person will enable us to acknowledge one another as sacred gifts endowed with immense dignity.
Especially in situations of conflict, let us respect this, our “deepest dignity,” and make active nonviolence our way of life”.
In other words, “live together in harmony!”
The Scripture readings recited earlier are both selections used by Pope Francis in his message of peace.
From the letter to the Romans: “Do not pay anyone evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in sight for all. “If possible, on your part, live at peace with all” (Romans 12: 17-18).
From the Gospel of Luke: “But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6: 27-28). Pope Francis encourages each one of us to step up, be courageous and strong. Make active non-violence our way of life.
Every morning when I get up, the first thing I do before saying my morning prayer is brew a cup of coffee and turn on the TV to see what has taken place in the world over-night.
Many times the news is not good – wars, suicide bombings, terrorist attack, killing in a school or community, violence in the streets or on a university campus. The list is long. There is too much violence.
Many times the local news is also bad, a tribal fight, murders, rapes, domestic violence and child abuse. There is too much violence.
What can any of us do about these things, this violence? Perhaps, we think, not much – except each of us can build a habit of nonviolence in our own heart, in our own personal behaviour.
And, we can influence others close to us to do the same.
- Every Papua New Guineans should;
- Be proud of your ethnic heritage and traditions, but leave ethnic rivalries outside the gate of this campus. We are children of God;
- In this year of PNG political elections, passionately discuss and debate the issues that face our nation, but do not allow political rivalries to destroy friendship and unity on this campus. We must all work together for the common good;
- Leave anti-social behaviour, such as drunkenness, drug abuse, bullying, manipulation and every kind of violence outside the gate of this campus. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ.
How wonderful it is, how pleasant it is, for God’s people to live together in harmony!”