Society Matters | Volume 32 No. 1 | Autumn 2022

7 Volume 32 No. 1 | Autumn 2022 Society Matters way from Rome, despite the COVID-related difficulties in international travel. The Divine Word Missionaries’ presence in PNG was approved by the founder of the Society, St Arnold Janssen who had in 1895 received an official inquiry from Cardinal M. Ledochowski as to whether the SVD would be prepared to take on a new mission in German New Guinea. Led by Fr Eberhard Limbrock, the SVD missionaries first set foot on New Guinea at Madang in 1896 and then settled in Tumleo Island. After six months in Tumleo, the missionaries established the “Queen of Angels” station among the Walman People living on the opposite side on the mainland of Tumleo. They opened the first school in July 1897 and from 1900 to 1914 they established a series of mission stations along the North Coast of Madang. In 1906 the Holy Spirit Sisters, also founded by St Arnold Janssen, arrived in New Guinea. From 1911-1942 more stations were established bringing the works of the mission to the side of Bogia. The early missionaries did not only preach the Word of God, but instead they focused on improving the community life. Giving basic services like schools, health centres, teaching crafts like carpentry, etc. Today the SVD Missionaries are serving in seven dioceses across PNG. There are two active bishops; 68 priests, 12 religious brothers and 22 seminarians in the country. The SVDs have sent 18 PNG national priests and brothers on mission to 12 different countries. The SVD is a significant presence in PNG and is involved in parish ministry, healthcare, education, communications and a range of other ministries. Celebrations of 125 years in PNG started back in January 2021 with a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Douglas Young in Mt Hagen. Archbishop Young described it as big day for Catholics to look back on and celebrate the church’s history and origins in the country. “As we come to celebrate this event, we come to know and acknowledge what the SVD missionaries have done to help us live a life where we are living today,” he told The National newspaper. “We are here today to realise and recognise how SVD played its part to bring light, hope and life to the people.” The celebrations continued in August with the arrival of the Superior-General, Fr Budi Kleden. He was welcomed in Madang by the SVD community led by Provincial Fr Jose Orathinkal SVD. The people of Malmal Community- an outstation of Alexishafen presented a ‘singsing’. The Jubilee Mass was held on August 6 in the Cathedral in Madang, to commemorate the first landing of the SVD in Madang in 1896, with Fr Budi presiding. Celebrations continued throughout the Province Assembly which followed.