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This year the Church celebrates World Mission Sunday today, on Sunday, October 22nd, which is also the calendar day of the feast of Saint John Paul II.  Having neglected to add another excellent link to last week’s article on “Christian Thinking about Education: Restoration of the Imago Dei“, it seemed fitting to this editor to draw together all of these events by highlighting a special project of the mission in Papua New Guinea.

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World Mission Sunday

World Mission Sunday includes a call for worldwide prayer and local special collections for the Propagation of the Faith. It is a beautiful day to pray for the missions and to offer a contribution to the needs of missionaries and young Catholic communities around the world.  In his message for World Mission Sunday 2017, Pope Francis calls for a renewed “thirst for the infinite”:

“The Church’s mission impels us to undertake a constant pilgrimage across the various deserts of life, through the different experiences of hunger and thirst for truth and justice. The Church’s mission inspires a sense of constant exile, to make us aware, in our thirst for the infinite, that we are exiles journeying towards our final home, poised between the “already” and “not yet” of the Kingdom of Heaven.” (section 6)

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Missionary sister in PNG

John Paul II in Papua New Guinea in 1984 and 1996

Among his 104 visits outside of Italy as Pope, Saint John Paul II even made two trips to Papua New Guinea, first in 1984, and again in 1996.  Below is a video of the 1984 trip with audio overlaid moving images of the historic visit.

During his second journey in 1996 he not only again met with large groups and celebrated outdoor masses, but he also beatified Blessed Peter To Rot (1912-1945), Papuan lay catechist, husband, father and martyr.

John Paul II at the relics of Blessed Peter To Rot in 1996

The Saint John Paul II Library in PNG built by the IVE Missionaries and Local Christians in 2016

Our own missionary Religious Family of the Incarnate Word has been in Papua New Guinea for twenty years, first the IVE priests for many years, and a few years later our own sisters arrived there too.

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IVE missionary priests during the construction of the Saint John Paul II Library in Papua New Guinea

Last year on this day, they were able to inaugurate a beautiful project: a library in a jungle under the patronage of Saint John Paul II!

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Read more about their story of the library in Papua on the Chronicles page of the IVE (includes 2 short videos, one of the mission, one of the construction project!).  They have, actually, many beautiful reflections on the mission there under “Papua.”

Saint John Paul II Library in Papua New Guinea

Let us pray for the missions, and for those who lay down their life to spread the joy of life in Christ and the freedom of the children of God.

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Sr. Koluse with a girl from our home in PNG.