Divine Word University honour Blessed John Mazzucconi
Students and staff of Divine Word University (DWU) in Madang celebrated the Feast of Blessed John Mazzucconi PIME, Missionary and Martyr, on Sunday, 23 September two days ahead of the official calendar schedule of Tuesday 25.
“It was the first time for us to do so”, said Year 3 Faculty of Business student Shane Ailu, head of the Milne Bay provincial group in the university, that led the liturgy in honour of the Italian missionary martyred at Guasopa Bay, Woodlark Is., Milne Bay province in 1855.
DWU Chaplain Fr Giorgio Licini PIME, a confrere of Blessed John Mazzucconi and he himself previously assigned to Milne Bay and Woodlark Is., recalled in his homily the steps that lead to the assignment of the first French and Italian missionaries to Milne Bay and Morobe provinces in mid nineteenth century. Of the seven Italians one died of malaria at Siassi while Mazzucconi was killed by the natives at Guasopa Bay as he made a final attempt at missionary work in Melanesia in September 1855. He was deemed by the Church to have died “in hatred of the faith” and therefore proclaimed a Martyr and a Blessed in 1984.
“The question is: what does this concretely mean for PNG today? What does it mean particularly for students, young people, leaders of the future in this country, which claims to be “Christian” by Constitution ?”, Fr. Giorgio asked. “On my part – he added - I would just like to remind each one of us of what moved the early missionaries from the relatively comfortable life and Church ministry of mid nineteenth century Europe to the totally unknown of Melanesia. It was not adventure. It was not colonial ambition. It was not curiosity for new places. No! We don’t find those things in their writings and records. We only find that it was love. It was an immense love for Christ, his Gospel and the people. They really believed that people could not have eternal happiness and life without the Good News of the Kingdom of God.” (CBC Communications 240912 – firstname.lastname@example.org)