The Marist Sisters arrived gradually through the months of February and March 2009. By the end of March we were a community of three, Sr Lavina Henry from Fiji, Sr Kathleen Bright from New Zealand and Sr Kate McPhee from Australia. For each of us our first introduction to life here in PNG was through our Marist Confreres either in Bomana or in our own Parish of Kanosia.
The months have been rich with life and activities and there has been a lot to take in. Our encounter with the Kanosia Parish and its diversity from the Wama station with its many cultures to each of the Villages within the Parish continues to be an enriching experience.
We have been introduced to many festive occasions where Traditional dancing has been a significant part. From the blessing of our house, to Diocesan festivals, back to the opening of 3 School houses, to our own Marist Feast on the 12th September, the Parish feast of St Vincent de Paul and then Advent and Christmas celebrations it has all been a wealth of culture and diversity.
We are getting use to the fact that this is truly the ‘Land of the Unexpected’ with each day bringing its differences and sometimes many challenges. One learns a lot about ‘Waiting’ especially when it comes to Banks and business-like dealings as well as meetings within the Village.
But even this is overtaken by the natural beauty of this country and of its people. God is certainly alive and active in this place, enriching both it and us with life and love.
Currently there are two young women from Papua New Guinea in the Marist Sisters’ Novitiate in Davao, the Philippines. During their novitiate period Catherine and Celina are undertaking studies in spiritual, theological and Marist formation while reflecting more deeply on their call to be Marist Sisters.
With the arrival of Srs Lavinia and Kathleen the Marist Community in Papua New Guinea is now complete. On the feast of the Annunciation the sisters had their first community meeting and also the joy of having Mass in their convent for the first time. On 19th April the Bishop came to Kanosia to offer Mass and bless the convent. The whole parish was involved in this festive day of prayer, feasting and entertainment.
On Wednesday 4th February 2009 Sr Kate McPhee left Sydney to begin a Marist Sisters Community in Kanosia in the diocese of Bereina. Sr Anne Rounds, Regional Council of the Marist Sisters in Asia Pacific, accompanied Kate. After two weeks Anne returned to New Zealand and Kate busied herself preparing for the arrival of her two companions. In early March Sr Jane Frances O’Carroll, Congregational Leader, visited Kate. The woman of the village dressed in traditional grass skirts, with painted faces, flowers on their heads and leaves tucked into bands on their upper arms, placed a lei around Jane’s neck and proceeded to accompany her to the sisters’ home as they performed the traditional dance of the Central Province. This dance was followed by a shared meal prepared by the teachers. On 23rd February three young women from Papua New Guinea, Catherine, Celina and Mary Lily, arrived in the Philippines to continue their journey to become Marist Sisters.
The first three Marist Sisters missioned to Papua New Guinea will be arriving here in the near future. They will establish a community in Kanosia in the diocese of Bereina. A residence for the sisters is currently being constructed. Srs Kate (Australia), Kathleen (New Zealand) and Lavinia (Fiji) spent a period of time in Fiji earlier this year learning of the lifestyle and culture of the people they will be working with.
The sisters are very excited about this opportunity to share the Marist Charism in a new place. In September Sr Florence was the first Papua New Guinean woman to make her profession as a Marist Sister. There are currently three young women from Papua New Guinea in inital stages of formation in Fiji prior to going to Novitiate in the Philippines.