Papua New Guinea
- Parish Work in Vanimo (Diocese of Vanimo)
- Lujan Home for Girls in Vanimo (Diocese of Vanimo)
For complete contact information of the missions in Papua New Guinea, click here.
To see photos from our mission in Papua New Guinea, click here.
To learn more about the Lujan Home for Girls:
For more PNG mission information from the websites of the IVE Fathers of our Religious Family:
Where is Papua New Guinea?
Papua New Guinea is the eastern part of the island of New Guinea. It is found south of the equator, in the southeast of the Pacific Ocean, northeast of Australia.
Evangelization in these lands is rather recent because the first missionaries arrived between 1845 and 1852. However, they did not reach all the shed villages in the jungle of Papua New Guinea. Due to the fact that only 4% of the roads of the country are paved, some communities in the middle of the jungle have never received the visit of a missionary.
Papua New Guinea has 19 provinces. Our Religious Family is present in the Diocese of Vanimo, which is in the most isolated and poor area. Because of the poverty of this area and the scarcity of medical assistance, one of the greatest dangers for the missionaries is contracting malaria.
OUR DREAM COMES TRUE!
On Sunday, August 2, 2009, we, the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará, saw our apostolic dream come true after 7 years of mission in this land of Papua New Guinea.
We constructed and opened a Home for Girls. This home will receive adolescents and young adults from poor families with limited access to education, who face a number of great risks from their environment.
A Little History
We started our work in the Diocese of Vanimo in 2002 and soon we realized the urgent need to protect our girls, adolescents and young women from all the attacks they face: sexual promiscuity, rape, and violence, including tribal fights which cause social upheavals.
Women are also routinely given in marriage at a young age and against their will because of a cultural practice in which the man’s tribe pays the woman’s clan a high price for her or its equivalent in cattle value. The payment takes place over several years, after the woman is living with her husband. However, if the payment is not completed after a set period of time, male relatives from the woman’s clan have the right to choose a woman from the man’s clan, in order to “collect” the debt. As girls grow up they fear that their uncles will use them as “payment” (i.e., marry them off).
Our First Difficulty
Among the many difficulties, our first challenge was to get land to build the Home. Although land is so abundant in Papua New Guinea, acquiring land is very difficult because there is a law that land cannot be bought or sold but belongs to a particular clan forever. The family can choose to rent it or “sell it” for a fixed period of time, after which it returns to the clan. Therefore, we needed to think ahead as to what would happen in the future with the Home if we had to return the land.
Currently, the government of Papua New Guinea is buying land from the clans and then selling it with property titles to individuals for 99 years with the possibility of renewing ownership after that period. Thanks to this new change, the Bishop of Vanimo was able to buy (for 99 years) some land for his Diocese.
An Unexpected Gift
On August 22, 2008, the Feast of the Queenship of Mary and a particular feast for our Delegation, our Bishop decided to donate to us a small piece of land in the center of Vanimo City. We had fought and prayed so eagerly to get it, and finally our prayers were answered! This land has a small central hall where the first elementary school of Vanimo opened its doors years ago and today this is the place where the Catholic community comes and prays.
As a living proof that Divine Providence does not cease assisting us, we were able to finish building the Home in less than a year since the land’s acquisition. Time is diffierent in Papua and construction is a real ADVENTURE!
Here are some of the difficulties we faced during construction: all building materials have to be imported because Papua New Guinea does not produce any building materials. These materials are supposed to arrive by ship every two weeks… and so we waited anxiously, to no avail. So as the weeks past and no such ships arrived, we finally decided to rent a boat to take us to Indonesia (a few hours away) to buy what we needed ourselves to continue the job! This was our way to experience what it means “not to be evasive to the missionary adventure” as is expressed in our Constitutions.
We know that nothing is impossible for God, and we put our trust in Him and His hand guided us. Now we have our own Home and we named in honor of Our Lady of Lujan, Patron of Argentina, “Lujan Home for Girls.” We offer it to Her protection and intercession so that the people of Papua New Guinea will learn to know and to love Her, and at the end they will be able to do everything “for Mary, with Mary and in Mary,” as slaves of Her love.
The day of the inauguration of the Home was met with great celebration! Bishop Bonivento, priests from the IVE and some diocesan priests came and concelebrated Mass in our little Chapel (the old hall) and then the new building was blessed. It now has capacity to receive 25 young ladies; 18 are already living with us. There is a long waiting list to take the other places as well.
We missionaries in Papua New Guinea feel really blessed because we have had the chance to see the seed growing. We also recognize the sacrifices and prayers offered to Our Lord and Our Blessed Mother for the success of this project by our contemplative branch, our priests and by all the benefactors. In thanksgiving, we wish to dedicate this article to them to encourage them to keep helping us in so many ways to achieve the triumph of Jesus Christ Our King and His message of salvation. Our job is to plant and then, in time, the Lord will harvest.
How You Can Help
All of the expenses of the Home (construction and maintenance) as well as the daily living expenses of the girls are covered exclusively by donations from families and philanthropic organizations.
We are just at the beginning of this work and we need your help to continue:
- To cover living expenses, school tuition, books, and materials for the next year;
- To buy water tanks to collect water from the rainfall and then purify it to be able to drink it;
- To fence in the land so as to assure the property rights and to provide security; and
- To buy a truck/vehicle for transportation of the students and food/supplies required for the proper functioning of the Home.
We need your help! We will appreciate your solidarity.
Thank you so much for the time you spent reading this letter.
Sincerely in Christ and Mary,
Sister Maria del Sagrario Paez, SSVM
Superior of the Lujan Home for Girls
Or send your charitable donations payable to:
SSVM Missions Inc.
Attn: Papua New Guinea
632 W. Erie Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19140
All the sisters thank you for your prayers and support!