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Volume 25 No. 3 | Spring 2015

6

“So it is important to them that somebody comes and stays

with them. It lifts up their self-esteem.”

Fr Stach says that tribal fights and other problems meant

that until he turned up in recent years there had been no

priests in this part of PNG for about 30 years.

“My main task was to get the people around again and

start again to worship, but there is still a problem in getting

people to come back (to worship).

“The other problem is that here in the bush, many people

have left and moved to the towns. More than half the

population are now living in the big towns like Port Moresby,

and many don’t come back, especially young people.”

Despite all the challenges, Fr Stach says he loves his life with

the forgotten people of Papua New Guinea.

“I am very happy here,” he says. “I like it here, being with

the people. I really do.”

Fr Philip Gibbs SVD also knows first-hand the challenges

and joys of missionary life in PNG, having been there for

more than 40 years.

“For many years I was parish priest in Porgera-Paiela

parish,” he says. “There were no roads in Paiela, only

walking tracks. It would take three weeks to walk around

and visit the outstations in Paiela.

“Some were relatively close, but for some others, it would

take a full day of strenuous walking to make it to the next

place.

“Mountain climbing was my favourite sport in New Zealand,

so the walking in the mountains in Papua New Guinea was

more a delight than a penance, despite the rain and the

muddy tracks.

“But I must admit there were times that I would dream of

a hot shower rather than bathing under a waterfall, or of a

comfortable bed, instead of the sleeping bag that seemed

to have become a home for fleas.”

Fr Philip says despite the challenges of missionary life in

remote areas, there are rich experiences to be enjoyed too.

“Remote places give the missionary a chance to get

closer to the people because there is just you with your

parishioners and no-one else to distract you from listening

to them, eating with them, administering some medical care

and so on,” he says.

“It is a time to hear and practice the local language, and a

time to sit around the fire and listen to people’s stories. The

people appreciate it too. They know that you don’t have to

come along the muddy mountain tracks and that in another

parish you might have the luxury of a car, but you have

decided to spend your time to come be with them.

“It is a way of sharing the good news through your way of

life.”

Your donation can help support the work of missionaries in

remote places, such as Fr Stach and Fr Philip. Please note

however, that due to Australian government regulations,

funds donated to support missionaries in this way do not

qualify as a tax deduction. If you wish to have your donation

directed to help missionaries in their ministry or formation,

please indicate that you do not wish to receive a tax receipt.

Thank you and God bless you.