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11 August 2016

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Fr Christian, congratulations to you in your priesthood vocation and in your pastoral work. I am really happy and proud of you. I support you in my prayers that you remain faithful.

The catholic diocese of Kundiawa should have a population of 50 percent and not 30 percent. The problem now is half of the Catholic population don't go to mass due to several factors.

Priests like Fr Sieland is a dedicated pastoral worker but there is still more to be done to bring back the lost souls.

The laity need to mobilise and do something. Most of us are spectators and not doing so much to keep the local church alive.

Fr Sieland, yet another dedicated 'man of god'. To me it is of no interest to know his particular brand of Christianity but sadly to many 'believers' their allegiance seems to be more to their specific nominated designation. Some writers have claimed there are 33,000 different types of protestant churches in the world.

I smile when I see radical Christians seeking to proselytise in Catholic countries where Christ has been daily proclaimed for 1900 years.

A Baptist, I still have my old passport which gives my occupation as Catholic Lay Volunteer inscribed. I know I raised a few eyebrows among my fellow colleagues when I arrived in the Catholic Mission at Kavieng and occasionally stayed in Bishop's Stemper's house and lived in my 'monklike cell' under Father Bernie Miller's parish home at Lavongai.

I enjoyed almost every minute of living and working with the priests and laity. I treasure excellent memories of the times we spent together all with aim of serving God's chosen people in their particular time and place in history.

Father Bernie was a rather Pickwick looking man who enjoyed his bowl of popcorn while watching an old cowboy movie projected from his first-floor window through a hole in the fly-wire onto a permanent screen to the enthralled kids and adults sat on the grass below.

But this priest, who seemed to be the best trader on the island too, had his dedicated misso side. Regularly, just like Fr Sieland, he would set off into the few interior Catholic villages to bring Missa or Holy Communion to his flock; baptise infants, marry young people and generally listen and advise where appropriate to their worries and needs.

It was he who sent me every Sunday to one of his small parish churches to provide some basic political education as we approached self government and then independence.

Some years later it was his successor, Fr Delucca, who along with myself and three others was designated as the 'Gang of 5' by a very pro-government uncle.

Each of us had to write to Bishop Hesse explaining our role in attempting to avoid destructive forest techniques being used by Malaysian loggers in the far west of Lavongai.

Father told the Bishop that he was a spiritual guide for his parish but could not ignore that each parishioner had other humanity too and he could not allow them to be tricked and robbed by clever elites and their Asian friends.

He was moved away from the island but of course I couldn't be as I was not only officially married there but more importantly was a PNG citizen.

Fr Delucca spent 31 years in PNG and has continues to have priestly duties back in the USA after 50 years as priest.

So thanks for publishing Fr Sieland's inspiring story of life as a Man of God in Kundiawa today.

Father Christian, through his words and actions, is a loyal and committed servant of the Gospel. For those of us who cross his path, we are truly inspired by his presence and teachings. May God give him good health as he reaches out to people.

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