• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Wednesday, 29 May 2019 16:56

"I liked the people": Fr Kazimierz reflects on 51 years of mission in PNG


Fr Kazimierz PNG 450When Fr Kazimierz Niezgoda SVD left Poland as a young man to be a missionary in Papua New Guinea he figured he would stay there his whole life, and now, 51 years after he arrived, he still has no plans to leave.

“I was committed,” he says. “I knew I would stay.”

Born in an agricultural area of Poland and raised under Hitler’s German regime, Fr Kazimierz grew up in an area where there were many SVD priests and he entered the Divine Word Missionaries seminary in 1946.

He made his vows in 1954 and was ordained to the priesthood in January 1960, but despite his desire to take on an overseas missionary assignment, he spent several years in Poland because the post-war Communist state allowed very few missionaries to leave Poland.

“I kept applying, four or five times for a mission assignment,” he says. “And then finally, they said I could go to PNG and I left Poland in 1967.”

Fr Kazimierz spent six months with the SVD in Sydney, learning English, before heading to PNG and receiving his first assignment to the highlands.

His was sent to Kandep in the far west, a remote place which had only just started to have contact with Europeans.

“It was all new,” he says. “They were the first generation of people to meet missionaries.”

Fr Kazimierz had to start from scratch, and together with the local people, he built a school and church in the main settlement. There were also about 20 outstations as part of the parish.

“It was difficult terrain,” he recalls. “I did most of my travelling by motor bike. Many times there were no bridges and we would have to carry the bike across rivers.

“There was also still a lot of tribal wars going on. But there were only about two times that I was afraid, when all of a sudden I realised where I was and what was going on around me. But that passed and I never really felt afraid.”

Along with his sacramental and pastoral duties, Fr Kazimierz also had to practice basic medicine and also farming.

“The New Guineans were very responsive to medicine,” he says. “They loved all things European.

“Before I came they just ate what they could grow, but while I was there we introduced cows and chickens.”

The people also slowly responded to Christianity.

“The number of Christians grew and grew,” he says. “There would be crowds of catechumens waiting for their lessons. By the time I left there were about 2000 believers. I had a good relationship with the local people there.”

Fr Kazimierz also served as the SVD District Superior during this period.

After taking some home leave in 1975, Fr Kazimierz returned to a newly independent Papua New Guinea.

When the Bishop asked him where he would next like to serve, he nominated Maramuni, about two to three days walk from the Bishop’s house.

“I like the bush,” he smiles.

Fr Kazimierz set about completing the building of an airstrip that had been begun by his predecessor to help improve access to the remote settlement.

He ended up serving four parishes there during the 1980s, with the help of assistant priests and during this time he was also elected by the SVD to be a Provincial Councillor.

“In 1990 a big war broke out and they burned down one of the main stations at Pompabus,” he says.

“I witnessed the whole thing. They burnt my house down and everything else. But I didn’t take it badly.

“Still, they assigned somebody else to this broken place and I was sent to Kompiam-Piperis to recover.”

When the priest from the neighbouring parish of Par became ill, Fr Kazimierz took over his parish and served another term as District Superior.

It was during this time that he met Fr Henry Adler SVD, the current Provincial of the AUS Province.

“Yes, I would go and help Henry out on Sundays in Porgera,” he smiles. I was at Porgera from 2005 to 2015. It was my last place. I retired after that.”

Fr Kazimierz, who was briefly visiting Sydney recently, now lives in retirement, working as chaplain to a group of Poor Clare sisters from the Philippines and helping out in the parish at Par.

Asked what he has loved most about his 51 years as a missionary in PNG, he says: “Walking in the bush. I like the bush. Only now I’m not walking, but wobbling.

“Also, I liked the people there. I liked the people and so I committed myself to staying there. It has been good.”