Society Matters | Volume 32 No. 1 | Autumn 2022

Volume 32 No. 1 | Autumn 2022 6 Society Matters SVD’s year of celebration in Oceania a time for thanksgiving It’s been a year of celebration, thanksgiving and reflection for the SVD in Oceania, with the Australian centenary celebrations drawing to a close, the SVD in Papua New Guinea celebrating 125 years and the SVD mission in Central Australia marking its 20th anniversary. The Australian centenary celebrations concluded on World Mission Sunday in October with a small Mass due to the pandemic restrictions. Provincial, Fr Asaeli Rass SVD, said the occasion was a time to “give thanks for those dedicated and tenacious missionaries who left their homeland and came across the seas to share the love of Jesus Christ in this part of the world”. From humble and somewhat tenuous beginnings with the arrival of a handful of European missionaries, the Australia Province now includes Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Mynamar. “In my opening remarks at the closing Mass of our Centenary year, I said we were celebrating 100 years of sweat and hard work; 100 years of pioneering spirit, loneliness, failures, and pain,” Fr Rass said. “But also 100 years of communal joy in the Spirit, spiritual growth in the Society and spiritual nourishment that is enjoyed by all. “And not forgetting 100 years of expansion of missionary ideals and activities in the Province. More loving, more trusting in God. “As we look back in thanksgiving, we join with the Psalmist in exclaiming, ‘The Lord has done great things for us, we are filled with joy’. Fr Rass said it was also through Divine Providence that the SVD has maintained through 20 years its ministry in Central Australia “where we are working with one of the most disadvantaged peoples on earth”. “We offered our Centenary Mass for the plight of the Aboriginal peoples of the land,” he said. “Our celebration providentially took place on World Mission Sunday and in his message for that occasion, Pope Francis gave voice to the driving missionary impulse behind all that we do – that having ourselves known the love of God, we cannot help but share it, especially with the poor and marginalised.” Meanwhile, the Divine Word Missionaries celebrated 125 years in Papua New Guinea with a range of celebrations, giving thanks to God for all the blessings bestowed on the mission, the people, and the missionaries themselves. SVD Superior-General, Fr Paul Budi Kleden, was special guest at the celebrations in August, having made it all the