Father Ernest Golly remembered
In the evening of Tuesday, the 11th of May 2010 many people and cars were heading for Yomba parish. People were ushered to the benches of the great parish hall, the cars were guided to the parking places prepared around the buildings. Everything has been taken care off. Grass was neatly cut, the hall decorated and prepared for the liturgy. There must have been well over a thousand people. In spite of such a large gathering there was not much noise but rather thoughtful silence. It was dark all around because the town power was off, a small generator was running and few lamps helped the people to see where they were going. There were also many candles around the altar giving in the middle of darkness a catacomb like atmosphere.
There were sounds of choir and musicians preparing their voices and instruments. A digital projector was on from time to time a photo of Fr. Golly was shown on the wall. At 7pm all rose into song and the procession of over forty priests led by the altar boys with cross and candles moved slowly towards the altar. Fr. Joseph Roszynski, SVD Provincial superior, who presided over the celebration, since bishop William Kurtz was away in Australia, welcomed everyone in the name of the Triune God. He set the tone for the celebration saying that we all came here to pray for the soul of Fr. Golly just as his body is being laid to rest in far Germany in a small cemetery at the Mission House of St. Augustin near Bonn. We came to remember Fr. Golly’s life and his legacy. After the act of contrition Fr. Roszynski said that even though usually during masses for the death Gloria is not being sang, tonight we are going to sing it to give thanks to God for the wonders he had achieved through Fr. Golly.
In his sermon Fr. Roszynski led the congregation in reflection on the events of the recent weeks and days; the pains of Fr. Ernest, his travel to Europe, fast progress of his sickness, and the sudden news of his death. The spontaneous response of the people, gathering together to cry, to pray, and to remember the good works of Fr. Golly. Fr. Roszynski recalled also some testimonies posted on the internet. Among others that Yomba New Town was once no go zone but when Fr. Golly came to the parish he work with leaders to give people hope and courage, and now one feels save coming to Yomba even at night. Look at so many priest around altar, he said, when Fr. Samuel Kokut proposed the group of diocesan priests, gathered at Alexishafen these days for their in-service, to come here tonight, their put their names because they heard the name Fr. Golly. The news of his work for the Legion of May and its fruits reached far and wide in PNG. He was, no doubt, a leader of that movement on the national level. He died on the first Friday of the month, Fr. Roszynski pointed out, that is the day we remember Sacred Heart of Jesus. Fr. Golly was fervent promoter of the devotion to Divine Mercy. People in the congregation kept responding lively to Fr. Roszynski’s word with spontaneous applause when the words he spoke touched their hearts, and there were many words like that. Fr. Golly had a heart for everyone, said Fr. Joseph, when someone knocked on the door Fr. Ernest used to say: “Jesus, come in”. His faith allowed him to see Jesus in every person, who came to him. Fr. Golly was a Divine Word Missionary. He wanted to make the Divine Word available to everyone. He wrote and published many pamphlets and books teaching and instructing the faithful about the way of the Lord. Behind me here, Fr. Roszynski drew attention to big letters on the wall, is Fr. Golly’s saying: “As long as I live, I serve.” And he did indeed. He used to say also: “I will retire in heaven,” but I can not believe that Fr. Ernest will retire in heaven, no he will be praying for us, I am sure. We remember him today with gratitude and reverence, thanking God for his life. Now, think if we have died suddenly, how would we be remembered, what people would be saying about us? Life of Fr. Golly is closed now, finalized and offered to God completely, we live yet and still can do something, even today, to influence the way we will be remembered. God gives us this grace at every moment, and every day of our life. Today we are also grateful to the family of Fr. Golly, his brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, who supported him in his mission over all those years. They were his co-workers and his backbone. As we are putting into God’s merciful hands body and soul of Fr. Golly, let us pick up his legacy, and carry on the mission, to which he gave his life, so that the darkness of sin and the night of unbelief vanish before the light of the Word and the Spirit of grace. Amen, Fr. Provincial finished his sermon.
The prayer of the faithful was prepared and read by the representatives of all the different parish groups, and so there were: Divine Mercy, Marimari, Papa grup, Mama grup, Choir grup, Altar Boys, Legio Maria, Antioch, Charismatic, Couples for Christ, Youth for Christ, Catholic Youth. They all presented their fervent prayers, thanking God for Fr. Golly’s life, asking God’s mercy for his soul, and pledging their commitment to the work of God. At the offertory all voices blended in song led by the choir and parish musicians. Somewhere at the time of consecration the town power came back and there was abundance of light everywhere. Now one could see how many people were congregated in the parish hall build some years ago by Fr. Golly for large gatherings. Near the altar were sitting religious sisters and brothers, who came from Madang town and Alexishafen. It was a great experience of communion within the church. Holy Communion was given by several priests. Happiness and sadness intermingled in everyone, like life and death are at work in every human being.
As I was going away, back to my community, I was thinking of life and legacy of Fr. Ernest Golly and of the many ways he has challenged me on my way of missionary service.