Retired bishop dies

Faith, Normal

The National, Thursday October 24th, 2013

 THE retired bishop of Wewak, Anthony Burgess (pictured), has died of cancer in Sydney, Australia.

He was airlifted to Sydney on Sept 8 after he collapsed.

Fr Greg Bourke said Burgess arrived in Papua New Guinea in 1973 and was sent to Karaitem, near Lumi, in the Torrecelli Mountains of West Sepik.

He was later appointed to Wassisi, in Nuku district.

“Wassisi is an important station on the junction of the road between Nuku and Wewak,” he said.

“With the collapse of airlines, all the supplies for the missionaries and government had to pass through Wassisi. Tony’s business and bookkeeping skills all came to the fore. 

“His father had trained him well. He built a large bulk store for all who needed supplies, especially the mission stations and he did not neglect his parish duties.  

“He kept a record of every village visited and made sure none were neglected. 

“He received great support from the Franciscan Sisters at Wassisi and his care for the religious would be a characteristic he would bring later to Wewak.”

He later became the Vicar-General of the diocese. 

Burgess was a key figure in the resettlement of survivors and the one responsible for making sure every kina of donated money was accounted for when the tsunami hit Aitape in 1998.

He was named auxiliary bishop of Wewak in 2000. 

“He was always a strong, clear speaker and couldn’t stand corruption in any form,” Bourke said. 

He got sick a couple of years ago and went to Sydney for tests where he stayed with the Franciscans. 

He became a secular Franciscan (former Third Order) in his parish.