Mountain priests

Normal, Weekender

The National, Friday 03rd Febuary 2012

THEY both struggled many years to fulfil their dreams of becoming priests to serve man-kind in the mountains.
Deacons Francis Pirit and Jerry Maria Inao achieved their dreams recently when they took their vows as deacons, the last step before becoming priests in the Catholic Church.
The importance of their ordination was that the ceremony was conducted at what is known as a “holy land” on the hillside of Yule Island in Bereina, Central province.
And it is the first ordination on the “holy ground” in 127 years since the first mass was celebrated on the island.
The hillside was rendered “holy” when a wild boar ran amok destroying the alter and felling the bread and chalice containing wine that was just consecrated as the body and blood of Christ at a first mass that was being conducted by a Catholic priest.
The Catholics belief is that the act of consecration or blessing during a mass turns the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ imitating Jesus in the last supper.
The appearance of a wild pig and its actions is believed to be the work of Satan attempting to prevent the spread of Christianity in the Papua region when the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart first landed on Yule Island 127 years ago.
This hill with a permanent structure used (as an alter) for celebrating masses and an open ground where pilgrims converge is referred to us a “holy ground” where Christ’s bloody was poured.
This holy place came alive recently with the first ever ordination of two young mountain men as deacons, the final step in the Catholic Church to becoming priests.
Br Francis Pirit from Gazzelle in East New Britain and Br Jerry Maria Inao of the Central Province became the first to be ordained on the “holy ground” in 127 years.
Br Francis is originally from Vairiki Christ the King Parish in the mountains of Gazzelle while Br Jerry is from Kamulai Christ the King Parish in Goilala but they both belong to the Bereina Arch Dioceses’ Mountain Denary having performed pastoral duties in parishes of Goilala.  
Ever since the first mass was held on the island and commemorative masses held each year, there is no record of ordinations on the sacred hill, said Archbishop of Bereina, Rochus Tatamai who was the main celebrant at the mass to deaconate the Deacons Francis and Jerry.
“This is a moment of grace for us with the first mass celebrated 127 years ago and commemorative masses each year, there was never an ordination of priests to continue to celebrate the Eucharist,” said Bishop Tatamai.
It has been a long journey for Deacons Francis and Jerry respectively.
They persevered for years in spite of hardships and struggles that hindered their studies for priesthood while many of their friends have become priests, said Bishop Tatamai.
The ordination to deacons was their dream and the last step to becoming priests in the next six months.
They will go through preparations helping out priests celebrating masses before they are ordained as priests themselves.
Bishop Tatamai urged parents and communities to make more sacrifices and give their children to do God’s work by seeking vocations with the Church.
“We need men to continue to be ordained to represent Christ to celebrate the Eucharist and feed the flock with Christ’s body and blood”.
“These two men would have value to you but you are prepared to say they are gifts of God … and because they are gifts of God to you, you are willing to give them back to him.
God will generously bless you in abundance, the two men coming forward are not your first or the last to give, they are the beginning,” he said.