05/05/2010 10:47

Diocese of Bereina


On July 4, 1985 many people will gather on Yule Island to celebrate the first centenary of the Catholic Mission, and many more will remember their links, past and present with Yule Island. It is now part of the Diocese of Bereina, but one century ago it was the humble beginning of the Catholic Church in Papua. Rabaul, in the New Guinea Islands, had an earlier start (1882), while Christianity - via the endeavours of the London Missionary Society - had reached the Papuan coast in 1871.

On the evening of June 30. 1885 a small sailing vessel dropped anchor in Hall Bay. On board were the crew, and three missionaries, Father Henri Verius, Brother Salvatore Gasbarra and Brother Nicola Marconi. They had sailed from Thursday Island via York Island to what the local people called Rabao, and what the explorers named Yule Island. Their objectives was the evangelization of Melanesia beginning from the South. Their sponsors, back home, were the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Issoudun.


The M.S.C's - as they are known after the Latin initials of their "Missionari Sacratissimi Cordis" - were a young Congregation, originally founded to chirstianize again the Berry, a province of North France. Their founder was a secular priest, Jules Chevalier, who in 1852 was allowed by the Bishop of Bourges to found a religious society, under the patronage of the Sacred Heart .

Father Chevalier strongly believed in the power of the devotion to the Sacred Heart. He saw it as an effective means to heal the various evils of the world. He recognized this devotion as the solution to save the whole world.
His motto was "May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be everywhere loved. For ever"

It took years before the new Congregation became viable. It also took much persuasion before the group dared to accept an assignment for foreign missions. Humanly speaking it was presumptuous to commit oneself to an unknown area on the other side of the world, where, for Instance the Marists and the Missionaries of Milan, had tried and had been forced to resign. Others had declined the offer, because it was beyond their resources. Then Pope Leo XIII addressed a request to Father Chavelier to send his men to New Guinea. His answer was "yes", and the MSC's came to the vast area of Melanesia to stay…The first part left Barcelona, in Spain , on September 1, 1881.

They said to Manila, Singapore, Macassar, Batavia, Singapre again, then finally to Cooktown and Sydney. Finding no way to reach Port Moresby and the Papua Coast where they were supposed to start, some said to New Britain to join what was left of the Marquis de Rays colongy, to take care of the first Catholics baptized there by the Chaplain of the colony, Father Lannuzel.

They reached New Britain on September 28, 1882. The Superior Father Navarree returned to Sydney and decided to establish their base on Thursday Island. They settled there in October 1884.

As there were too many difficulties to make Pt Moresby their first foundation, they opted for Yule Island. The place known in Europe throught he reports of the Italian explorer D'Alberts who had spent sometime there in 1875. More details had been made know to the Missionaries by an old crusty American settler. "Yankee Ned" of York Island, who hired one of his boats to the Missionaries. And so, at last, Fr Verius and his companions could land on their promised land.

The first mass was celebrated on Yule Island, at the hill overlooking the bay, on July 4, 1885. The French missionaries called the place "Port L'eon", in honour of the Pope who had sent them. The main figure out of the first group of missionaries was no doubt Father Henri Stanilus Verjus - commonly called Verius - who was born on Oleggio (Italy) on May 26 1860. Interested at an early stage in mission work, he joined the Minor Seminary of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. He made his religious vows in 1878, and completed his studies for the priesthood in France and Rome. He was ordained a priest one year before leaving for the vast vicariates of Melanesia and Micronesia. His soul was dedicated to a spirituality of sacrifice, and he guided many other in that path.

Together with his companions, Father Verius purchased on Yule Island a piece of land, brought their cargo on shore, and saw their boat, the Gordon, leaving for Thursday Island. The built some huts and started their work. The superior, Father Navarre, joined them later, and became Bishop in May 1887. On September 22, 1889. Father Verius too was made Bishop, but for New Britain. Bishop Navarre now asked Room to leave him as his coadjutor. Because of this request, Rome made Father Coupp'e the first bishop of New Britain. Bishop Verius went on with his work in Papua, but exhausted, he left for Europe for a rest and he died there in 1892. He was buried in his hometown, Oleggion

Meanwhile steps were taken in Europe to send also sister to the Yule Island mission. The first group left France on October 17, 1884 but they would not reach their final destination till August 1887. These Sisters were called the Daughters of our Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. (OLSH Sisters)


As soon as the first M.S.C's arrived in Rabao in 1885, they began asking urgently for the co-operation of the OLSH Sisters. This was a challenge for the new Congregation, which at the time counted very few professed sisters. However, with trust in God, Mother Marie-Louise Hartzer sent five sisters for the Papua Mission.

On August 1, 1887, Sisters Liguori, Clare, Madeline and Martha arrived at Port Leon. Here they began caring for the Missionaries, instructing the children and looking after the sick.

Within a few years of the arrival of the sisters, the Missionaries at Yule Island were faced with starvation. The Sisters were presented with two options: that of returning to Australia or going to the mainland to live with the Roro and the Mekeo peoples.

They all chose the latter and soon several mainland stations were opened such as Inawi, Mou, Inawaia, Waima, and Rarai. Many Sisters died within a few months of their arrival. However, more cam from Europe and Australia. Everywhere they shared the M.S.Cs apostolate and the people's poverty. Wherever they worked they learned the local language and tried to provide education and health services.

Gradually with the M.S.Cs they penetrated the Kuni, Goilala and Fujuge territories, again showing special interest in the women and girls. After the war thins changed rapidly. Adapting to the changes and to progress the Sisters took charge of Primary Schools; started High Schools in the Diocese; became involved in Teacher Training.

Aid Posts were established as well as hospitals. Some of these works have since been taken over by the government. But in new fileds of apostolate as well as the old, the Sisters' aim is always the same: helping to implant

Love of God in the hearts of the people to whom they have been sent. They take courage in the words which a Cardinal wrote in 1886 to Mother Marie-Louise Hartzer. "Do not fear. It is the Church that sends you.." Soon after they settled on Yule Island, the Missionaries started to look towards the mainland across the bay.

Explorations and foundations in the coastal areas grew over the years. Bishop Navarre, sick and old, was given a coadjutor: bishop Henri Verius who became the explore of the inland region, peace-maker among the fighting tribes, founder of the first permanent settlements on the mainland. Exhausted by his work, malaria and difficult local conditions, he went back to Europe for a rest, but died there in 1892.

Old Bishop Navarre kept going with the newcomers, many of them dying only after a few years in the field. Bishop Navarre was again given another coadjutor in 1899. He as Father Alain De Boismenu. It was during his long term of office that the inland mountains were explored and the first Mission districts opened.

It was also during that period that the Church built up its organization for the future, by relying very much on local lay leaders and catechists. Catechists were a necessity, and they have proved it to this very day. But the Church also needs eligious and priestly vocations. The first step into that field was the foundation of the Order of the Handmaids of Our Lord, called in Latin, Ancillae Domini or abbreviated, the A.D's.


Louis Andr'e Navarre was born at Auxerre (France) in 1836.Baptized in the Catholic Church, he followed the religious instruction in his Parish, but at the death of his mother, he left religious practice.

He made his first communion when in the army at the age of 24. He became a teacher and in 1867, he joined the Diocesan Seminary of Bourges.

He was ordained a priest in 1872 and served as Parish Priest for five years and then joined the Congregation of the M.S.C's.

Navarre was a member of the first group of Missionaries sent to New Guinea and became a Superior and later the first Bishop. He wrote a "Manual" for the other Missionaries who would later follow them, to introduce them to their work. He retired in December 1907 and died at Thursday Island in 1912. His body was later transferred to Yule Island where he is buried among his first campanion.


The Congregation of the Handmaids was founded at Yule Island by Bishop de Boismenu in answer to the desire of young girls from St. Patrick's school who wanted to give themselves to God.
On the Feast of the Annunciation 1918, the first five Handmaids received their veil of Postulants. These first sisters were Sisters Marie, Annie, Mona, Antoinette and Matthia. They were put under the care of Mother Ligouri, the Superior of the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.
After spending a few months at Inawaia with Mother Bernadette - and welcoming a sixth Postulant, Sister Dora (from Thursday Island) - the Sisters settled at Kubuna in time to receive their habit and make their novitiate. They made their first vows on November 30, 1920, the Congregation's "birthday".

Under the care of Mother Nobet. Sister Annie Fechmann, Mother Soland Bazin de Jesssy, Sister Marie Garnier and Mother Genevieve de Massignac, the little Congregation grew, sending Sisters to various districts of the then called Apostolic Vicariate of Papua.

In November 1956, the mother house was transferred to Nazareth near Port Moresby. This move helped the Congregation to spread to other dioceses and to receive vocations from different parts of Papua New Guinea, as well as from Australia.

In December 1975, Mother Cecily Daot, from Nimowa Island was elected first national Mother general. She was followed by Mother Barbara Tippolay from Darwin. The Handmaids of our Lord are still working in the Diocese of Bereina at Kubuna, Mainohana, Bereina and Kerau.

Their work is mainly education, catechetic, pastoral, and nursing. Their spirit is summed up by the answer of Our Lady of the Angel: "Ecce Ancilla Domini.


Alan Guynot de Boismenu was born on December 27, 1870, at Saint-Malo (France). Aged sixteen he joined the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and was professed in 1888. Ordained a priest in 1895, he left for New Guinea in 1897. Very soon, he became a leader in the Mission, organizing the Districts with the Superior Father Jullian, pushing explorations to the mountains. Appointed a Bishop in 1899, he gave to the mission the guidelines that still apply to-day. His pastoral letters and his action shapped the future of the local church, schools, religious life, vocations. During his long terms of office, he could see the first local Sisters and the first priest. He can truly be called 'the Father of the Papuan Church". When he retired in 1945, he was made an Archbishop. He died in 1953, and is buried at Kubuna. Steps are being taken to have him beautified one day.

". I am the Handmaid of the Lord" (Luke 1:38 ) and by the moto of their Father Founder, Archbishop de Boismenu: "Ut Cognoscant te" "That they might know thee (that is: the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent)" (John 17:3)
The start in religious life with the Handmaids of Our Lord had been successful. To establish a local clergy was to prove more difficult. The first candidate to the priesthood was Joseph Taurino. As a student at St Patrick's School at Yule Island Joseph started his higher studies with Father Norin. At that time there was no seminary in PNG; so he was sent to France. He was a bright student, but died in 1922.

Some more boys declared that they would like to be priests, but they left training quickly. The first priest was Father Louis Vangeke, ordained in 1937. He started his studies with Father Pineau, then went to Madagascar. He became the first local bishop. Louis Vangeke had made his first steps in his education to the church with a group of young men: the Brothers of the Sacred Heart: They were not professed religious; they made a promise to obedience to the Bishop for the service of the church and renewed it every year.

Their numbers grew, but they never reached the stage that would have allowed them to form a religious order similar to the Handmaids of Our Lord. Their number decreased and old Brother Anorldo, who made his promise in 1932, is the last member of the group.

Bishop de Bosimenu wanted workers in the field at all levels but he wanted also a centre of prayer for his Mission. The Order of Carmel would form this centre.


Andre Sorin was born at Les Sables-d'Olonne (France) in 1903. First he had in mind to work as a Diocesan Priest but in the course of his studies, he joined the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and was professed in 1925. Ordained a priest in 1929, he came to New Guinea in 1931.

A collaborator of Bishop de Bosimenu he was consecrated his successor in 1946 . He opened new district in Goilala, keenly followed the progress of schools. A fine musician and an artist himself, he tried to introduce local tunes and local art in the life of the church. During his time at the helm, the Diocese of Port Moresby was made a separate church until. He died in 1959 and is buried at Yule Island


The Carmelite Nuns came to Yule Island by letters and above all by their prayer at the request of Father Vitale from the first years of its establishment. A warm relationship grew up with the Carmel of Autun, in France, cemented by visits from Bishop de Bosimenu and other missionaries. In October 1927, Bishop de Boismenu invited the Sisters to come in person - the next year? But that was not to be. It took seven years to convince the Bishop of Autun that such an initiative was indeed according to the mind of the Pope.

They arrived at Kubuna, five pioneers, on November 20, 1934, spending the first weeks with Mother Solange and the Handmaids. Regular Carmelite life began on January 1, 1935, but was soon interrupted by the inevitable attaches of malaria, which reduced the Sisters to such a state that they were temporary transferred to the healing heights of Fane. Over the years, two Australian sisters came from Brisbane in exchange for one borrowed from Kubuna, and two more came from Autun, just before World War II broke out and effectively stopped all further recruiting. The first death occurred in 1938. It was the youngest of the community. A fire destroyed the first Carmel together with much of Kubuna and once again the nuns took refuge with the handmaids. In spite of their help and the devoted care of Father Pineau and Sister Odette, there was three more deaths during the War, and it looked as though the "Carmels days were numbered. Bishop de Boismenu decided that they should be evacuated to Brisbane until the war ended, and once again his wise decision saved the lift of his Carmel.

The sisters came back in 1946, this time ten in number with the promise of six more in the following year, to a "temporary" Carmel as their home for the next nine years. Bishop Andre Sorin rightly thought that Yule Island would be healthier that Kubuna. In 1955 they moved to the "definitive" Carmel built by Father Paul Sorin and a faithful group of Yule Island workers. And there came the dawn of local vocation.

Times changes - highways, road transport. One day, Bishop Klein said he could no longer quarantee a daily Mass at Yule Island, and advised that Carmel, to remain true to its solitary way of life, should move again. So the sisters went to Bomana, welcomed by Archbishop Copas in 1973 very close to the heart of the Church, in its Major Seminary Providence? "Above all, for you, my priests … "wrote Bishop de Boismenu, announcing the coming of the Carmelites fifty years ago.

Bishop de Boismenu, the Priests and Sisters, tried to make the Mission a complete local Church as it could be seen at that time. But, often, Bishop de Boismenu was ahead of his times. In 1921, he wrote from France to one of his priest: "I am ready to take lay missionaries, men and women to go on with our work: if you see me landing on the jetty with them, do not fall on your back". This project came to reality in 1947. To-day we all know various groups of volunteers from different countries: the lay-missionaries. Bishop Sorin wanted them to be, not only dedicated professionals in their field, but also me of prayer, witnessed of the Gospel.


During the time Bishop de Boismenu was in office, the Mission at Yule Island slowly became a local Church, reaching the people of the mountains facing Yule Island.

This was the Mission that Father Verius had started and had extended to the mainland under the care of Bishop Navarre.
But their field was Melanesia as a whole. So they had to look much further than what is now the Diocese of Bereina

At the beginning the Fathers had in mind to settle in Port Moresby. However, it was not until 1914 that the first Catholic priest, Father Elliot, could be appointment to start his work there.

Further to the East visits were made to the new Catholics living in Samarai and small church was built there in 1926. This part of the Mission was put into the care of the Australian M.S.C.s It was in 1932 that a permanent set-up was established at Sideia by Father Francis Lyons of the Australian MSC Province. However, Eastern Papua remained under the leadership of Bishop de Boismenu, then of Bishop-Administrator Andre Sorin. In 1952 the pastoral care went effectively over into the hands of the Australian M.S.C Province, with Bishop Doyle as the first Bishop of Samarai.

Not longer after the first world war, when new recruits came again from Europe, Bishop de Boismenu wanted to open to the teaching of the Church the whole area entrusted to him. Two factors slowed down his work; first the policy of the spheres of influence which was still alive, and secondly the standstill of all activities in new areas caused by World War II.

However, in 1926, by acquiring an abandoned plantation at Terapo, in the Gulf Province, the Bishop had already been able to extend the mission influence to the West of Yule Island. Father Rossier was chosen for this pioneer work. Within a period of ten years the following stations were opened among the Toaripi people: Moveave and Rove in 1927, Lese in 1930, Kikipi and Popo in 1936.

North of Yule Island and Mount Saint Mary, the District of Tauade was opened in 1937. Then came the disruption of the second world war, and in 1944, the resignation of the 74 year old Bishop de Boismenu.

After the war Bishop Andr'e Sorin pursued the policy of the predecessor. As soon as new Missionaries came to Yule, the new Bishop opened up the Chirima Valley and passing the Central chain at Murray Pass, reached out to the Kunimaipa valley, at the upper part of the Lakekamu river. This was done in 1947. Still in 1947 the mission pushed further west by establishing a station beyond the Vailala river, at Kavava, in the midst of the Orokolo people.

Seven years later, despite the fact that the Southern Highlands was a restricted area, Bishop Sorin sent a team of missionaries to Mendi in order to secure a place there for the Church. Not having the means to do extensive work in this heavily populated area, he asked Rome to be discharged of this district. To the amazement of the American Capuchin fathers, who arrived there in 1958. Father A. Michelloed, the co-founder of Kunimaipa, had opened 11 mission centres which were to be their main and only centres for the next 10 years.

Short before he died, and in the same spirit, Bishop Sorin requested the Irish M.S.C fathers to take over Daru and the Western District, thus reaching to the furthest limits of what was once called British New Guinea. UP to then Daru was visited regularly every year, some land was acquired, but for lack of personnel no permanent station was ever established. Finally in 1959 the Canadian Monfort Fathers took charge of the Western Province.

Bearing in mind the great distances, the difficulties encountered by the lack of a regular transportation system and the small numbers of missionaries. It is a remarkable feast that in less than 75 years the Apostolic Vicariate of Yule Island was practically speaking evangelized, except for a few smaller areas.

It was left to Bishop Eugene Klein to reach out to the last untouched pockets in the diocese. In 1961 the new centre of Araimiri was founded to provided the last link between Terapo and East and Orokolo in the West.

In 1962 when the government opened to outsiders the hinderland of the Gulf District, and with the help provided by the Archibishop of Melbourne, Cardinal Knox, the Kamea stations were founded : Kainteba, Bema, Kanabea and Putei.
The time of the new local shepherds, Bishop Louis Vangeke from 1976 onwards and since 1979, Bishop Benedict To Varip, is a time of consolidation and of increased. Christian awareness.


Eugene Klein was born in Avenhelm (Francis) in 1916. He joined the minor seminary of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, was professed in 1973. After some years of pastoral work in France, he came to New Guinea in 1947. First appointed to the District of Terapo in the Gulf, he was called back to headquarters in 1953 as business manager. A fine organizer, he started the economical and financial organization of the mission towards self-support. Consecrated Bishop of Bereina in 1960, he had to face the development of schools into secondary and provide teachers for the new National Education System. He was transferred to Noumea in 1971 and retired in 1981. At present he still fulfill some pastoral duties in his home diocese of Strasbourg.


Louis Vangeke was born at Veifa'a in 1904. Not accepted by his family, he was brought up by the sisters and drew up in the Mission. A good student in schools, a dedicated Brother of the Sacred Heart, and ready to do any work.
In 1928, he left New Guinea for Mdagascar to complete his training to the priesthood. When he returned in 1937, he was the first local priest. He spent all his priestly life among the Kunis. At Oba-oba, later at Bakoiudu. He was consecrated Bishop by Pope Paul VI, in 1970. First an auxiliary Bishop of Port Moresby, he became Bishop of Bereina in 1976 until his retirement in 1979. As a Papuan, he had to tread new ground at the first priest and the first Bishop, and he did so humbly at the service of his people. He died on December 12, 1982 and is buried in his village, Veifa'a.


In reply to a request made by the Apostolic Pro-Nuncio and by Bishop Louis. Mother Teresa of Calcutta answered the : :I am sending four sisters for the Diocese of Bereina. They will be there within two months," On January 7, 1980, the big truck of Kubuna arrived from Tokarara (Port Moresby) with the Sisters Celestine (Regional). Cecilia (Superior), Shushanti, Rose-Isabelle and Alberta.
Their missionary call to preach God's love by prayer and penance, by word and action is consecrated by the fourth vow of whole-hearted free service to the poorest of the poor. The sisters have centres for the girls in Veifa'a,Inawi, Orioropetana, Aipeana,

Amoamo, Rarai and Inawauni, where they teach the girls needle work, making different things, reading the Bible, praying and singing together. They have a pre-school for children, and go to Primary Schools for religious classes.

The Sisters also conduct Sunday Schools in the different villages, and visit the families at home, caring for the sick and the old, praying with them, and preparing them for the Sacraments. They promote the consecration of the families to the Sacred Heart and the family recitation of the Rosary. They advise couples on the Natural Family Planning.

It was on October 17-18, 1981, that Mother Teresa paid a visit to Veifa'a. Bishop Vangeke came down from Kubuna to meet her. The bishop said, "I called the sisters to be the sign of God's life and love among our people, to share the joy and compassion of Christ with my people around the villages." With these words he thanked Mother Marie-Teresa for "giving one more Tabernacle to the people" so that their Lord will always be surrounded by the people, to be loved and adored in the very centre of the village.


In the first part of this booklet many names were mentioned as exploration and evangelization went on. Villages were contacted, tribes came to join the Church. Bishop de Boismenu organized the pastoral work around some main centres where the Fathers could come back and spend some time together in between their partrols. Now we shall have a short history of the present main stations and of the Districts. The boundaries of those District, which are now Parishes, follow the lines of the various languages and tribes.


The Catholic Church was established in Papua when the first Mass was celebrated on Yule Island by Father Henri Verius, on July 4, 1885. Although forced to leave by order of the Government, the missionaries left with a firm will of returning as soon as possible.

On Febuary 9, 1886 they came back to stay. On March 4, 1886 Father Verius gave the first lesion of catechism at the residence of the Missionaries. Later when the islanders had accepted the idea of grouping themselves into one big village, Tsiria, Father went there to give his instructions. Soon a school-chapel was erected. The first baptism was administered to a sick girl on July 1886.

The year 1887 saw the first important results of Father Verius pastoral work, when several groups of people received the Sacrament of Baptism, and the parish of St Peter of Tsiria was founded.

Father Verius, as a bishop since 1889, had to spend more and more time contacting people on the mainland, so the care of Tsiria was entrusted to another priest among his successors are Fathers Toublanc, Vitale and F.X.Gsell, the future Bishop of Darwin.

When Bishop Verious left in 1892, the whole population of Yule Island was either baptized or under instruction, and would soon enter the Catholic Church.

Today, several villages on the mainland are part of the Yule Island Parish: Pinupaka, Nikura, Poukama and Nabuapaka are in the care of Father Julian Efi (who was ordained in 1953 as the second Papua Priest), while Father Max Gremaud, the Parish Priest of Yule Island also visit Tubu and Vanuamai on the mainland.


Michael Bure Taiabu, one of the Chiefs of Mou, jealously keeps a old adze, one of the precious gifts received by his ancestors from father Verius in 1889 for the purchase of a piece of land.

Mou is one of the four villages of the Paitana parish with Biotou, Rapa, Ipaipana settlement and the school complex. Mou people 'impressed" Father Verius so much when he visited them in March 1886, that he appointed Father Fernard Hartzer as parish priest of that village on January 28, 1889. This was the fist mission station to be set up out of Yule Island. Father Boublanc, three Filipino catechists assisted in serving these areas.

Rapa and Biotou, for a long time were visited by sea from Yule Island, while Mou, Babiko and Bereina were looked after from Waima. Now all villages are connected by road.

After the second World War, in order to integrate the Mission schools into the National Education System, Father Hubert van lamsweerde used the schools of that area as an example for all the schools of the Diocese. In the late sixties the four schools were combined in a central place Ipaipana.

Nearby, too, there is a settlement of Moripi people descedants of the Rapa girls taken away by the Moripi warriors wo raided the Rapa some 100 years ago. They settled on their grandmothers' land without any opposition from anybody. Since the beginning of the Verius Catholic Council. Rapa became a sort of central point for all the Roro Villages, where a General Assembly is held for Catholic Church leaders in September each year.


Bereina is a name that covers many activities: the Diocese, the Parish, the Town, and the Village.

All take their name from the Village. It was here that the parish was established in 1890 with the arrival of Brothers George and Salvatore (better known as "Kala"), who built a house and settled in to evangelize the people. The first priest to minister to the parish was Father Athanasius Toublanc, who came from neighbouring Mou.

Over the years the status of Bereina Parish has fluctuated. From being a parish in its own right, it then became an outstation of Waima and was served for many years by Fathers Porchet and Coluccia.

With the transfer of the Diocesan Headquaters to the town, in the early 1970s. Bereina became independent again with Father Didier as parish priest, and later as Administrator of the Cathedral. Today Bereina is the seat of Bishop Benedict and covers the area served by the Cathedral.

The Town, the settlements, villages of Bereina and Abiara-oreke are entrusted to the Administrator, Father Evan Duggan while the Paitana villages are in the care of Father P. Didier.


Long before Father Guilbaud came to Hauramiri village, these following clans had already had their pastors: Ere-ere, Korina, Okipokina and Oaovia. Only the Hauramiri Ere ere clan had no missionary.

Since this particular clan had no missionary, Paru Kupa as a chief and also a leader of the village, planned to hold a meeting. He asked chieves of the other six clans who already had their own pastors to come to the meeting which was being held at the Chief's house call Rabao Rabi. The aim of the meeting was to bring a missionary to Hauramai village.

Everyone at the meeting agreed that they wanted a missionary at the village. Paru Kupa's uncle Beata Kupa, was chosen to go to Yule Island to ask for a missionary to come to their village. When the message was received at Yule Island, Father Guilban was chosen for that mission. He arrived at Waima to take up his pastoral work at Hauramiri Village. Father Gulband started in the middle of much suffering and many trials, to preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ


Early in 1886, to quench his thirst at the mouth of the St Joseph's river, Brother Kala saw leaves of potatoes, taros and sugar cane floating on the water. He enquired and was told that they came from the rich land of the savage Mekeo people.

When they heard this report. Fathers Verius and Coupp'e set out for the Mekeo country. They arrived at the first Mekeo village of Inawabui, then to Eboa. On December 2, 1886, they saw Inawaia. They made several trips to pacify the warring tribesmen and sent Brother Nicloa Marconi to set up the second mission station at Yeku village. It was renamed Jesu-babua: "The Peace of Jesus", as a permanent reminder of the conversion to Christian life of the reputed savage Mekeos. Brother Marconi died at Inawi in 1893.

Father Gabriel Colte'e, sent by Bishop Navarre started the old station at Inawaia. By 1897 the first OLSH Sisters Rose and Celestine, came. The pioneers of the first days were followed by many more missionaries.

Fathers, Brothers, Sisters, Lay Missionaries, Cathechites, Teachers, Church Committees, Legion of Mary groups and nurses.

The first Papuan priest to be given the full responsibility of the parish was Father Kape.
The people of Inawabuai, Eboa, Inafokoa, Inawaia, Yeku, Oriorpetana and Bebeo are grateful that God sent them so many missionaries and ask Him not to forget them.


The foundation in the Parish was when Bishop Verius sent Father Joseph Vitale and Brother Kala Gasbarra to Inaui on October 20, 1890. Four years later Veifa'a station was founded by Brother Kala. Later Father Paul Bouellat was appointed as first priest-in-charge.

The first church of Veifa'a was blessed by Bishop Navarre on June 29, 1895 and was dedicated to St Paul. AT the same time several men were ordained Priests and Deacons.
These were seminarians from Europe who had been sent to the Mission before completing their studies. Father bouellat himself was ordained Priest on Febuary 24, 1894 at Yule Island by Bishop Navarre and died on February 16, 1902.
At this time Father Vitale moved from Inaui to Veifa'a where he spent the rest of his life without every going to Europe for holidays. He died on October 9, 1947 and is still remembered with great affection among the Mekeo people.

The second church of Veifa'a was blessed by Bishop de Boismenu on June 5, 1912, and the present one on December 26 1967 by Bishop Klein.

From Veifa'a the missionaries contacted all the villages of North and West Mekeo and founded the church there. At present three priests are looking after fifteen villages, some of them are still very isolated. In each village there is a church and a small presbytery.
Among the pioneers we must mention

Father Louis van Campenhoudt and Father Xavier Perrrin. Both of them spent their life in the outstations of the parish in very difficult conditions.

From the beginning the Daughters of Our Lady of Sacred Heart have been in the parish. Sister Gabrielle spent 60 years among the Mekeo people, and was really the Apostle of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. The Sisters now run St. Gerard's Hospital and Training Centre. Recently they have been joined by a community of "Indian" sisters.

From the Parish we are happy to see Bishop Vangeke, Brother Peter Keaga (first De La Salle Brother) and Fathers Kape and Ekako.


Penetration towards the inland tribes was a slow process. The first people contacted were the Kunis, a scattered tribe from the foothills to the mountains. Higher up, at the present

Times, the parishes are organized around tow government centres. Tapini and Woitape where the first airstrips were built. Please have a look at those Parishes.


The Bakoiudu parish is a recent development. It is only 25 years old. But it has a venerable ancestor in Kuni territory: the old mission station of Oba Oba. It dates back to 1899 when Father Armand Pag'es began to move away from the Papuan coast. With him were Brother Kala and Brother Joseph Moreux. Father Bouellat followed with a team of Mekeos to build the mule tracek. At Christmas 1900, Bishop de Boismenu celebratef the first mass at Oba-oba.

Following these early men, Fathers Chabot, Rossier, Eschlimann,Sommereux, Moyon, with Brother August Laine and later also Father Louis Vangeke, worked hard in that very difficult region to bring the poor and scattered Kunis to the faith.

Then came father Boeli. Don't call him the Rubber Man! He has a iron will power and a determination which achieved the survival of the Kuni people. He took the chance to do this when Faika Peto, the great chief of Bakoiudu; offered him 35,000 acres of land. He persuaded the Kunis to move down and resettle themselves there.

August 1, 1961 is the date of the second foundation of the Kuni parish at Bakoiudu. Their seven years of hard work, of clearing, planting, and building was rewarded when the first rubber trees were tapped in October 1967.

In September 1979, Bishop Vangeke, who had spent most of his time with the Kunis before becoming a Bishop, bless the new church with is unique stained glass window. The Church, the six classroom school, the health centre with staff accommodation, and the rubber factory with its new smoke house are all signs of the strong vitality of the Kuni community.


Carrying a small mango three in his hat. Brother Auguste Laine and a few Workers arrived at Kubuna from the coast in 1908. They planted the mango tree, built some huts and began clearing the bust to make food gardens and paddocks. Kubuna was to be the first stop-over fro the pack horses coming from the coast to the mountain stations.

In 1919, Bishop de Boismenu decided to make Kubuna the place for the mother house of the new A.D. Congregation. From the on, the history of Kubuna is the history of the Handmaids of Our Lord and of their work. As well as the "Baby Shed" (as they called their orphanage). The sisters ran a Primary School and a central Upper Primary school with boarders, replaced later on by a Vocational Centre.

Their successive chaplains were Fathers Rossier, Pineau, Rinn and Bohn, who in 1956 accompanied the Sisters when they transferred their mother house to Nazareth near Port Moresby.

The founding father of the Congregation, Bishop de Boismenu, retired at Kubuna from 1945 until his death in 1953. He is buried at Kubuna in company with Mother Marie-Therese Noblet and Mother Solange, Bishop Vangeke also retired at Kubuna from 1980 until his death in 1982 but he is buried in his village, Veifa'a.

At one stage, the Carmelite Sisters had their Monastery also at Kubuna, from 1934 to 1942 when they moved to Yule Island.

Today Kubuna has a parish which was started by Father Rossier under the name of St Isodore the ploughman. In 1965 this parish was placed under the patronage of Mary Mother of the Church. The parish had a primary school, church and an aid post. At present all former school buildings are used by the Catechetical Centre.


A school to train catechists had already been set up by Bishop Navarre in 1896 on Thursday Island. Here Father Guis began with the training of eight men brought in from the Papua mainland. However, the policy of the colonial government of the time promptly put an end to it. Another effort at Mae'era in 1899 failed for various reasons after producing three catechists only.

Bishop de Boismenu then placed his hope on the mission schools, which he thought could function as a sort of "seminary for catechists"- Despite some doubts in the beginning a lot of catechists found their vocation there. However, if these schools did serve as seminaries, then only as minor seminaries, for catechist were supposed not to be just prayer-leaders. They were supposed to be teachers as well and also be able to run a station in the absence of the parish priest.

Because of this a special training school for the coastal catechists opened at Kivori in 1926. That year the number of catechists had already mounted to 90 from the 22 in 1915. The drawback of Kivori was that it covered a rather limited ara and that the lessons were in the local Roro language. Only in later years, from around 1937, did the Teachers Training College at Bomana offer a new opportunity of a more advanced education in English.

Meanwhile in the mountains the missionaries tried to manage as best as they could to given some catechists training by short periods at the main stations. Worth mentioning is the perambulatory school system, introduced in 1953 at Kamulai and practiced there for several years. The trainees learned the trade by being taken around on the pastoral tours. In 1971 a proper training centre started operating at Kosipe. It was succeeded three years later, by the Kubuna Centre, which caters for the whole Diocese of Bereina.

Today Kubuna provides a classical type of formation for both male and female catechists. While the A.D Sisters help out by instructing the catechists and religious matters. Up to now 32 catechists graduated from the Centre. Bishop de Boismenu once remarked. "For the present and for the future, catechists are a necessity". His words have lost noting of their actuality yet.

Map of Diocese of Bereina
The Church, living among new peoples and nations, gradually indigenous sons and daughters take up and respond t the divine call of the Gospel, not only by faithfully living the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, but also by embracing the evangelical vocations to the ministerial priesthood and consecrated life".

Pope John Paul II, a the Hubert Murray Station, May 7, 1984.


On May 18, 1905, Bishop de Boismenu celebrated the first Mass ever said in the Fujuge country. The district was founded by Father Fastre' who first settled at Popole, but had to wait many years before giving Baptism.

It was not before 1926, twenty years after the first foundation, that the Fuyuyes began their movement towards the Faith. And that movement could not be restrained.

Remarkable missionaries were appointed; they took the country by storm. Regardless of fatigue and privations of all kind. They visited the whole area, climbing up and down from village to village, exhorting the people to change their life and to accept Christianity. Among them was Fraters Clauser, Dontenwill, Norin,, Bacheller, Sicard, Brother Camille, and Mam Simona.

Though the list at Fane in recent decades is more comfortable for the pastors and the people, the work is to some degree more challenging than during the foundation period.

This is because much of the initial enthusiasm for the Christian life has faded. Better known as artists and musicians, the Fuyuges enjoy talking and singing more than they do working.

Favoured by the climate, the variety of birds, flowers, and fruits. Fane was one of the first stations in the mountains where the words of Christ were heard, and the Fuyuges now try to live up to that privilege. A special devotion tour Lady helps them to strengthen their still young faith.


An invitation to a "sing-sing" was the good pretext for Father Alphonse Clauser to visit the Upper Vanapa Valley in April 1909, and to mark the site for Ononge mission.

In 1912 Bishop de Boismenu and Father Fast're visited the area and helped to pacify the fighting clans. Father Dubuy was appointed first parish priest with Father Norin and Brother Paul Studier to help him. the first Mass was said on Februay 11, 1913.

For almost forty years Father Dubuy worked for the Fuyuge people, combing "Evangelization and Development", long before it became the directive of the Church road building, saw-milling, cattle and horse breeding, construction of a conspicuous church and the beginning of many outstations were time consuming. However, far from interfering with religious instruction, catechist training, visits of the people and other pastoral activities, they served as a pacifying and community building factor and were a realistic basis for a true Christian life.

As early as 1916, the first Ononge parishioners received Baptism. Inspite of a bush fire which destroyed everything on the station in 1916. Father Dubuy, with the reinforcement of Brother Camille Fridez (1916), Father Jan Cortebeeck from Belgium (1921), Father charles Garreau (1927) and later on Sister Rosa, contacted and evangelized all the villages of their vast parish, and even contacting the Chirima Valley.

Father Dubuy dies in 1952 but his successors continue the work with the same spirit in this beautiful parish, full of promise


In 1955 at the request of the Upper Vanapa people, Father Charels Gremaud, Parish Priest of Ononge, went to look for a place to build a mission school. A site was selected at the boundaries of the tribes of Woitape, Omboli and Uruin and dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima.

The first buildings in bush materials were erected by two Little Brothers - Julio Gurum and Carolo. The following year, Woitape was chosen by the Government as the site for a new airstrip to replace the
Partially completed one at Urun which was found to unsuitable.

In 1957, Leo Oa, a trainged teacher was sent from Yule Island to take charge of the school. Soon after, Brother George Tweedy came to construct a sawmill on the Ero
River and the timber was used by Father Louise Gremaud and (Now Brother) Henry Hansotte to put up the first permanent school buildings.

The Stations of Urun, Omboli, Woitape and the community school at Fatima were regularly visited by a priest from Ononge, but in 1961 Father Aim'e Maye was appointed first permanent priest Fatima. He pulled stations of Woitape and Omboli and put them up again at Fatima. Fatima thus became the centre for the Woitape and Omboli tribes. The Urun people kept their church and Father Maye still goes to see them from time to time.


In 1948, on the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, Father chiel Cadoux and Le'on Bel arrived at Yongai to settle permanently. Before that, the fathers of Ononge and Fane had visited the Sirime or Chrima crossing the Owen Stanely Range at 3,3000 metres, but it was only a rapid visit. This time it was for good. The population accepted the Missionaries with pleasure. It was something new. Father Dubuy and Brother Hilaire had builit a mule track from Urun to Murray Pass and then between 1949 and 1943, the road was completed as far as Yongai Station. Horses could then go to Ononge for supplies. This actual Christian population in the Chirima Valley is 427 out of a total population of an estimated 2,150. A new Church was built in 1981. There are six Catechists in the service of the people, preparing those who ask for Baptism. Yongai, Kafano and Asomba have a community school and an aid post, while Joribai has only an aid post. The airstrip built by the Mission is now in the hands of the people. Yongai has moved "from mission to local church", having at hand all which it needs for the development of the area. The Mission has given a good start. The responsibility now is to carry on.


The Papuan mission demanded untold physical efforts for which many of the Fathers were not prepared or also not qualified, and for which the generous efforts of many lay brothers often provided the providential answer. Most of the time, though, expatriate Fathers and Brothers and local labourers worked together, blasting rocks and building roads, pit-sawing and constructing houses, breaking in horses and so on.
One may, by way of example briefly dwell upon the problem of transport in the Yule Island Mission.

Like at several other starting pints in the Mission history, the diocese of Bereina too began on an island, and thus sea transport was an important factor in the early days. Supplies had to come from Port Moresby, a hundred kilometers down the coast. It also had to be taken across the bay and transported to the struggling missionaries on the mainland stations.

From whale boats, rowed across the bay, the methods of transport progressed through launch to barge, motorized dinghy. "St Francis 1" and eventually to "MV Bereina".

With the coming of the motorized launches, Brother George Tweedy is remembered with his "Gemma" and "St George, while Brother Moriceau gave his name to one of the many barges which he and Brother Seba built in the Yule Island Boat Shed. Lay Missionaries skippered the larger "St Francis and "M.V Bereina" together with Tom Williams, Nicholas Koae Paru
And Naime Raoma.

On the mainland, human carriers soon gave away to mules and horses. The horse caravans cannot be mentioned without the name of Brother Gendron who kept the supply route open for many years. Then came the tractors and trailers and trucks, and finally the first aircraft. The dream of Father Bounrjade, the famous pilot in World War I, was finally fulfilled!

Today, on the coast, roads have done away with the need for boats - apart from crossing the bay to Yule Island while in the mountains, each station has its own airstrip served by commercial aircraft companies. Within the mountains, the Fathers can even get about my motor bikes or small vehicles. Times have changed.


The foundation of the Tauades or Kerau District was decided upon by Bishop de Boismenu in February 1938, and came into effect in September of the same year.

As a matter of fact, from August 1936 onwards about seven different patrols had been made by Fathers stationed at Popole in the Fane District. But in September 1938, two French MSC Father, Francis Guivarch and And're Wending walked from Popole into the Tauade territory. Here they built their first station at Sene, and one year later transferred it to Kerau.

Then began the real work of evangelization. Such a work included different aspects. At first, material building, census and road works. The intellectual realities were languages, dictionary, grammar, prayers, hymns, catechism, Old and New Testament translation, schools, and spiritual realities included patrols around the District to catechize, to give the different sacraments, to form catechists and Catholic primary teachers.

All those works were done and progressively achieved by the different teams of priests, posted at Kerau. Those teams were headed by the successive Parish Priests, Fathers Francis Guivarch, Ge'nereux Norin, Angelo Beneditti, Francis Guichet and Joseph Jacob, who all contributed to the building up of the Tauade Church. The Parish registers say in very flat and precise figures the enthusiastic devotion to their difficult apostolate. Up to date, they administered 6201 baptisms 3479 confirmations, 4603 first communions and 1077 marriages.

Today, it is not possible to forget all he helpers who worked with the 14 priests who served among the Tauade people
from 1938 onwards. They include three expatriates who were M.S.C Brothers, 20 expatriate and 20 local A.D Sisters, nine Lay Missionaries from France, Australia and Malta. Lat but not the least, come the local catechists, who, by their self-denial and wonderful faith, became the foundation stones of the vigorous church.


A piece of land, flat enough to make one dream of a airstrip has decided the destiny of Tapini.

Long before the war, Father Moyon, patrolling from Oba-Oba, is said to have brought to the attention of the Government that handkerchief of tableland. But only in the late forties the dream became a reality. Tapini was established as a key point for communications for the Tauade and Kate speaking valleys of Kerau and Kamulai.

In 1950, the first mission buildings were put up. They consisted of a three room house as residence, a church, and a bulk store. Tapini was still an outstation of Kerau, but soon more and more supplies and traveling to and from there was taking place.

For the Government too, Tapini became the door to the region, and by being where it was gradually became the door to the region, and by being where it was it gradually became popular.

1964 saw the blessing of a new church which was dedicated to St Jon-Mary Vianney. Then year later the new house for the Fathers was near completion which started a far better accommodation.

The moment has come that the Goilala high way will amplify the central position of Tapini. Especially around the High School there is room for Brother and Sisters who can assist Tapini to reach its spiritual vocation.


In 1956 for different important reasons, Bishop Sorin and his counsel decided the foundation of a special central school to give the Goilala students opportunity to complete "at home" their higher education.

After many proposed sites as a Mafulu, Woitape and Loloipe, Kosipe was selected. Among the reasons were its geographical situation - it is a central spot for the Chirima, Ononge, Fuyuge and Tauade peoples. It is located at a healthy altitude - situated 2000 meters above sea leavel. It also was possible to obtain enough and the necessary teachers' houses

The foundation started by the Lay Missionaries Hansotte and Roqueplo. The new school was opened in 1958. The church construction began in 1960 and proved to have a surprise in store.

While preparing the foundations, Father Alex Michelled discovered some very ancient artifacts like waited-blade axes, flaked axe adzes. These items were radiocarbon tested and it was proved that the human occupation there dated back some 26,000 years, thus, revolutionizing at the time the whole history of Papua New Guinea.

Between the years 1971 and 1975 Kosipe was the place of the Catechists Training for the whole Goilala district, later to be superseded by the Catechetical Centre of Kubuna.

The District has three parishes now. They are Kosipe taking in 450 souls, Tanipai with 449, and leme with only 98.
Kosipe is proud about the many Fathers, Brothers, Sisters, Lay Missionaries, Teachers and Catechists who have contributed so much to the establishment of its local Christian community.


August 27, 1947 is the official date of the foundations of Kamulai Parish. However, as early as 1890, Bishop Verius started to walk from Mekeo towards Mount Yarima (Mt. Yule). In 1894, Father Victor de Rijck visited the Lower Tapala Valley while Father Fillodeau patrolled the area in 1901, 1905 and 1907.

From 1927 onwards Father Louis van Compenhoudt visited the still uncontrolled region at least 20 times looking after the sick and sowing the seeds of the Faith.

Only in 1947 Father Aim'e Maye established the Church permanently. His nephew John Martin, M.L.M joined him soon after and they were succeeded by Fathers Paul Taphael, Alex Michellod and Able Michenaud.

Father Maye was a disciple of Father Dubuy, the founder of Ononge. He and his helpers and successors followed the policy of their master. While preaching, establishing villages, forming catechists and looking after the sick, they build roads, bridges and sawmills opened outstations, schools and aid-posts, and bred cattle and horses. Their medical centres and other projects were housed in good brick houses.

Now, with Father Willem in the Loloipa Valley, only Fathers Abel and Morant remained at Kamulai, keeping on the material and spiritual ministry among the almost entirely baptized Kunimaipa language people.

There is hope for the future, now that with Father Thaddeus Gutul, Kamulai Parish has given the first priest from the Goilala District.


The Missionary Laymen's Movement (M.L.M) envisaged by Bishop de Bosimenu was founded by Bishop Sorin in 1947 with the personal approval of Pope Pius XII.

The first lay missionaries came from France. They were Paul Roussel, Francois Bayard, Robert Sourimant, Yvonec Coliaux and Henri Descombe. They were folloed soon after by John Martin, from Switzerland.

The Australians followed in 1948, arriving with the first M.V. St Francis. They served the Church in many ways by occupying such positions as carpenter, teachers, plantation managers, storekeepers, secretaries, nurses, pilots, ship captains, road builder and printers.

The parish of Kosipe, for example, drew upon the services of Henri Hansotte. Michael Roqueplo, Evan Duggan, Dan Hourigan, Andrew Reys, Eddy Price Mike Campbell, Leo Nugent, Colin Collinson, Don Worn, Jeff Picker and many others. One of the old-times,Yvonnec Colliaux, now married in Papua, is still at the service of the Diocese as a plantation manager.

By their examples, these men showed that the work of the Church was not confinded to priesthood and being religious. This resulted in some local men and women of the Diocese offering their services for a short time, for instance at Mainohana and at Kaintiba.

From the ranges of the lay Missionaries, five have been ordained: Fathers Pierre Comte, Jack Robinson, Evan Duggan - all still working as diocesan priests while another diocesan priest Dan Hourigan and a Jesuit Father, Bert Linders, work in Australia. Henry Hansotte became an M.S.C Brother while Angela Taylor, a former teacher, joined the OLSH sisters.
Six Lay Missionaries are buried in PNG, give having died while in service and the other having completed his term but whilst still living in the Diocese.

The death of Don Craig at Mainohana saw the end of the M.L.M as such, although the Diocese still accepts volunteers where and when the need is felt.


Times have changes since 1985. Papua New Guinea has become an independent State. With new means, the local Church keeps on building its future by the formation of its members and leaders.
From the start, schools were an essential part of the Mission work. Now, the former Mission schools have joined the National Education system, and the Diocese of Bereina is one of the many Agencies.

Health services too have developed. In the Parish councils, part of the work; young people in the villages from groups to face the challenges of the new society in the making. To maintain and increase the spiritual life of the local Christians, a new type of church workers has emerged the permanent Deacons.
In addition, religious orders founded outside PNG or inside from their new local members. Only one of these institutions is located in the Diocese of Bereina, the Novitiate of the OLSH Sisters.


Mainohana was first established as an area of growing rice for the Mission, a role it had for a number of years.

In 1963 a lay missionary, Mr Dan Hourigan came here, as headmaster of a Primary School. He was assisted by other mission volunteers over the next few years. These were joined by the De La Salle Brother in 1958. Brother Lucien supervised the building programme and became Headmaster when Dan left.

At this time there were 300 pupils enrolled and of these 40 were girls. IN 1961 Cadets were introduced. These were to be feature of the school for the next decade. Brother Peter Keaga was the first PNG person to hold rank in such a unit. The academic results were very pleasing as all the Grade six passed the Government exam at the end of 1961. This pattern was to continue for many succeeding years.

In 1963 started phasing out primary pupils and taking in secondary students. By the end of 1967, the school was fully secondary and replaced the Yule Island boys high school. The facilities at Yule were to be used for Teacher Training for the next few years.

More buildings have had to be built as the school has grown. A building for science and Senior classes that was built in the late sixties burnt down in 1976. This was a very costly loss, but against many odds, the science rooms were replaced.

Those who know the area from a few years back, will clearly recall the floods. These caused the school many problems but also taught us the need for self help. This led to the upgrading of the road into the school. It also helped us to go out to others, so that we cleared areas for them. We also used some of the areas to grow rice for the school.

Moves were also made to help school leavers by teaching them useful skills. Now this has been made formal by the inclusion of Secondary Schools Community Extension Project. This programme is for all the grade 9 and 10 members. This programme teaches mechanics, building and extended agriculture.

This programme makes sure that pupils put their training into practice. They have been sent out to various villages to help villagers set up self-help projects. In some cases help has been given to build a Church. Therefore, the tradition of providing people to help this country has been maintained


The Yule Island Girls' School commenced in 1957 under the patronage of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. In that year, Sr Terence arrived from Ononge and took charge of what was then St. Patrick's Technical Girls. Her indominable courage was equal to the tasks, and encouraged by Mother Rosa she commenced her first school in what had been the Carmelite Monastery.

In 1958 new classrooms were commenced and blessed the following year. The first grade 6 pupils were enrolled in 1960. Teacher Training was started by Sister Mary Perpetua who also taught part-time at OLSH College. In 1961, registration was granted to the school.

The first Form 11 was presented for the Intermediate Exam in 1964. by 1965 the number had grown from sixty to eighty-five.

In 1966 it was decided that the school would not take grave VI and from then on.
Each year the number of girls increased and it was gratifying to note the changed attitude of the parents, particularly the Mekeos, towards education. In 1967 when the Little Brothers vacated their house, sister Mary-Louise moved in there with Form 1 girls.

On the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, in 1969, wonderful news was received. Bishop Klein had been given a grant of
$10,000.00 from Rome and it was used for the school. Work began on three new classrooms and dormitory. This building was blessed in 1970 and the roll-call was 200.

The year 1971 brought O.L.S.H a big step forward when a small Form IV class was presented.

In 1972, the school year closed with 257 on roll in seven classes. In 1973, Sister Rita Grunke was appointed Headmistress, a position she held until 1982. During those years, the number of girls increased to 400. In 1983 Sister Angela Taylor replaced Sister Rita. A library-visual aid complex is underway now to be known as the Sister Terence Memorial Library.


Sister Terence came to PNG in 1948 and began teaching at Saint Patrick's School at Yule Island. In 1950, she went to Ononge to start a school there. For Sister, this meant innumerable trips on horse-back to the villages to try to convince the parents of the benefit of Education

This was a difficult tasks, since, as they had not been to school themselves, the parents could not see the necessity for their children to go. However, Sister's persistence won the day all children big enough to walk the distance and not yet married, turned up for school. Some were as tall as Sister herself.
In 1957 sister came back to Yule Island. She was put in charge of the Technical girls and quickly saw the need for a more formal education.
Later the OLSH Girls School was built. In 1964 Sister's expectation were fulfilled when the first group of girls sat for the Intermediate Certificate.
In 1969, Sister was appointed Regional Superior of Yule Island, and from 1970 till 1979 she became Provincial of the PNG Province.

While Provincial, she endeared herself to the Sisters by her warm friendly interest in each one of them and in their work. When her term as Provincial was finished, she returned to Yule Island as Regional Superior.

At the General Chapter in 1980, Sister was appointed to the General Council. Two years later, while on visitation in Australia, it was found that Sister had cancer and she died on September 17 1982.
For those who knew her, she lives on in their hearts and in their thoughts. May the remembrance of her spirit inspire them to make the Sacred Heart of Jesus everywhere loved!


In December 1969, the Bishops of Papua New Guinea organized a meeting for priests and religious involved in Youth Apostolate. Representatives of various existing youth groups were also invited. It was decided to form a new organization from "Young Christian"(YC). In April 1970, the Bishop appointed their Youth Directors in the Dioceses - Father Pierre Didier for Bereina. In May 1977, Bishop Louis Vangeke blessed the imposing Youth Centre in Bereina.
At the beginning, the Y.C Association was more or less a copy of the boys/girls Catholic groups. The main activities were sports, some community services and small business ventures.

In our Diocese, 14 groups were active, including three in the mountains.

In September 1977, Father Vincent Ohlinger SVD, gave a new orientation to the movement. What is the place of young people in the fast changing society of modern PNG? What part do they have to play in economics, in politics and in the Church. All problems to work at with the Cardinj-method: "See. Judge. Act.

It was a very good response to the Pope's appeal to Catholic Action. Eager to be more than a village activities organization, the Bereina Y.C. gave a chance to many youth to attend leadership seminars: four in-service meetings were organized every year, plus a yearly Youth Rally. A good number of Y.C Members were sent to national seminars and meetings. The Y.C has been integrated to the National Youth Organization, keeping its Christian identify.

In the re-oriented. Y.C. our young people, faithful to their Christian ideal and conscious of their responsibilities in the Church and the Society, will seriously prepare themselves to face the problems of the future.


Next to education, in its various forms of primary and secondary schooling or also technical and teachers training, health services have always been at the heart of the mission work.

Already back in 1948 a first Baby Welfare Clinic was opened at Badili, with the Sisters Linus and Jeanne. Here local girls were encouraged to take up the nursing profession.

Less than twenty years later nursing training was also started at Veifa'a with the appointment of Sister Christine North. At the time the hospital consisted of two local type houses, one of which was used for general nursing and outpatients and the other for maternity cases.

Sister took in the first students nurse to commence the Maternal and Child Health course, a three year programme.

Both the hospital and the training school owe a lot of all the Sisters who laid a firm foundation to the health work in the Diocese especially Sisters Joseph Mary and Bernadine. Prior to their time, Sister Odette had done much in regard to outpatients and home nursing.

Father Diaz has helped very much in the building programme of the new hospital. This was completed in August 1968.

During the eleven years, Sister Christine spent at Veifa'a (1967-1978), she also served as Matron of the Hospital. In addition there were periods spent as a member of the Nursing Council of PNG. She was one of the first members of the National Catholic Health Board and also acted as
Diocesan Health Secretary until she had to return to Australia for health reasons.

In March 1979 Sister Juienne Mack took over the function of Health Secretary and continued in this role for two years. Then Sister Gabriella Seven, who joined Veifa'a staff in 1976, took over. Sister Eleanor has ben Principal of the School of Nursing since 1969.

There have been other sisters on the staff. These include Sisters Cecilia Baour, Marie Pedro, Simone Berhet and Bernadette Lunas. All these sisters have made a fine contribution to the flourishing centre which exists today. Graduate from the training programme are now nursing at many of the Health Centres and heath sub-centres conducted by Church and Government in the Central Province and also at other centres throughout the country.


On September 7, 1974, Father Peter Miria, a young priest from Waima called a meeting of representatives of all the Roro-Waima villages at Rapa.

In line with Vatican II and the 1971 - 1973 Self Study of the Catholic Church in PNG, the formation of a lay council seemed to be an interesting idea. Its aim was not only to make up for the shortage of priests, but also to encourage the work of the faithful, in a Church which now was "passing from adolescence to maturity".

On that day the Verius Catholic Council (VCC) was formed. It consists mainly of lay people, with a representation of priests to act as advisers or spiritual directors. The constitution says that the name of the Association is chosen to honour the first Apostle of Papua, Bishop Henry Verius", and that its aim is "to involve the lay people in the Church-work according to the spirit of Vatican II, - to integrate the lay people in some of the activities of the priests, - and to help the priest in many ways in him ministry".

Meetings are held every two months in the villages by turn. The items on the agenda concern different subjects from money, sacraments to traditional customs. In additional to these meetings, the V.C.C organizes an annul Retreat for its members and pilgrimages for the major feasts of Our Lady.

The Council commenced in the Roro tribe, then in the Mekeo and the Kuni tribes and is to be extended further to our mountain districts in time.

Each council is independent from the others, so as to be more adaptable to the needs of its own people. The members of the V.C.C who have taken part in most of the meetings understand indeed the meaning of the sentence repeated during the "Self-study" - "We are the Church", by showing "unity of mind and heart" among themselves the great potential of this lay council will bear many fruits.


The main reason for our Diocese to introduce the permanent diaconate was both to complete the hierarchy of sacred orders and to enrich and strengthen the various diaconal ministries with the sacramental of the grace of the diaconate.

Twelve possible candidates were Selected in 1975. Six started the training at Yule Island the same year. Five followed the course in 1976 and three were ordained deacons after their third session of formation in 1978, while the other two received the ministry of acolpyte. A photo of the 1975 course shows Fr Miria, the two future acolytes H. Paraha and M.Arua in the midst of Frs Seveau and Wilem, and at the right the three future deacons G. Pioma'a, A Mange and G. Akaina, with one other candidate.

The first experience was successful. It will be repeated.


Agapito Pioma'a was born at Eoi Village of North Mekeo on May 2 1926. After his school days he was employed in different places by the Public Health Department. When posted to Yule Island, Father J. Diaz discussed with him the real need to have a teacher-catechist to look after the villages in the North Mekeo. Father Diaz also pointed out that given his qualities, he could be the man to lead these Christian communities.

At the time, Guy was married with several children. He had a stable job and good wages. As a man of faith, Guy accepted the challenges, left syringes and ointments, and entered the Teachers Training College.

One De la Salle Brother at the College confirmed how moving it was to see this older man, with is limited primary education and his rusty memory, trying his very best, to finally qualify as a teacher.

Guy's first posting was to Maipa Village. There he taught the Sunday services, and also worked in the aidpost which he himself had built.

He urged his people to plant coffee trees, and for many years his plantation was the best kept one. Later he started a new church centre at Akufa; under his guidance, the nearby airstrip was then built. He was a man whose charity was a practical and deep as his faith was great.

In 1975 Guy was selected to become a permanent deacon. After his ordination he joyously ministered to the North and West Mekeo villages, walking hours and hours to proclaim there the Word of God and distribute the H. Eucharist. Even after the death of his wife, in spite of customs, he did not desist from serving his brothers and sisters. He died in 1980, a man who had done more than "to give a drink of cold water to the least of Jesus' brothers"


The Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart have named their PNG Novitiate after Bishop Verius, because they wanted, from the start to place the religious formation of the national sisters under the patronage of this great apostle of the Sacred Heart.

They chose Yule Island, because it was on this island that the first OLSH Sisters landed and many of them have been buried on the nearby cemetery.

The Novitiate is situated on a point of the island with its own white, sand Beach. Its beauty is enhanced by many frangipani trees and bougainvilleas. Building commenced on May 31 1965, the feast of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. Bishop Klein, Mother Flavia, sisters, school girls and many others gathered at the site to celebrate the breaking of the first piece of ground.

The work of building was a community effort. Mr Chapman, a volunteer from Australia, worked together with the brothers and some men from Tsiria. The Public Works Department lent a bulldozer to clear the land. The OLSH students and the children from St Patricks school carried sand, gravel and stones. Prior to 1966 young P.N.G women who wanted to become OLSH sister were trained in Australia.

A group of these left Australia and arrived at Yule Island on January 22 1966. In this group of pioneers there were three novices, nine postulants, Postulates, Sister Stanislaus (Veronica) O'Connor, and Sister M.Pancratius O'Keele, the novice mistress.

The novices and postulants now did their share of clearing, digging, cementing and painting. The novitiate was only partially built and it would be many months before it would be complete. The first ceremony of profession occurred on February 2, 1966. Since that day, 19 years ago, many P.N.G Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart have given themselves to God in the religious life.

Today the Congregation has 64 national sisters and there are others still in training. They come from many Province - New Britain, Manus, Milne Bay, New Ireland, North Solomons, East Sepik and Central Province. May the love of the Heart of Jesus spread to all parts of this country, through the apostolic work of these sisters and those who will come to Villa Verius in the future.