Volume 25 No. 3 | Spring 2015
“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
“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
“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
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.