THE Catholic Diocese of Lae celebrated its golden anniversary last month with a celebration at St Mary’s Primary School.
The joyful milestone was punctuated by various cultural representations and witnessed by thousands of faithful from the diocese and well-wishers including visitors from outside Papua New Guinea.
The Apostolic Nuncio of PNG and the Solomon Islands, Archbishop Kurian Matthew Vayalunkal, was the main celebrant and several bishops and priests concelebrated the Holy Eucharist.
Archbishop Vayalunkal solemnly blessed the diocese and its people and paid special tribute to past and present missionaries for the fruit of their labour which is visible in Morobe Province.
“This is the right occasion to remember the history of the Church in our country,” he said. “We rejoice, we give praise, and we go forth.”
Bishop Christian Blouin of the Lae Diocese also gave thanks to the early missionaries, acknowledging four pioneers including Fr Anthony Mulderink of Mariannhill, who was present to witness the occasion.
Bishop Blouin extended this gratitude to the people of PNG, overseas friends and all people who contributed to the Diocese of Lae.
The Vicar General of the Diocese, , observed that the main work of the early missionaries was education and the formation of Catholic Christian families and they had continued to do that.
Fr Schmitt said the growing number of street kids is worrying and that the Church is trying to find ways to addressing this as well as the many other new challenges.
The Catholic Church in Morobe Province goes back to the time of the gold rush in Wau and Bulolo in 1927.
In June 1959 the new Vicariate of Lae was entrusted to the congregation of the missionaries of Mariannhill to about 1,750 Catholics of the 187,000diocesan inhabitants.
Among the Vicariate’s first priorities was education. The first Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood arrived in June 1962 and later other international congregations arrived and served in the fields of pastoral care, social work and education.
The Diocese of Lae, proclaimed in November 1966, has grown from modest beginnings to now serve more than 30,000 Catholics.