“I will retire in Heaven”
Fr. Ernest Thomas Golly, SVD
Born on the 21st December 1933 at Cisowa in Upper Silesia, Poland
Died on the 7th May 2010 at St. Augustine
On the 13th of April after a very tiring journey Fr. Golly arrived in Frankfurt. He had still celebrated Lent and Easter in his community at Yomba in Madang diocese. Afterwards he went to several doctors for a checkup. They all advised him to go as soon as possible to Europe for further checking and treatment under the care of the doctors there.
Father Golly knew about the seriousness and difficulties of his sickness. He trusted in the prayers of the parishioners; above all he relied on the intercession of Frank Duff (1889-1980), Irish founder of the lay movement Legion of Mary, whom his Legionnaires were praying to, asking for help and health for him. On the 27th April Fr. Golly received the sacrament of the sick so he could endure his pain and his sickness. He was an example of hope and patience, grateful for the prayers of so many. He chose to offer his suffering for the people of PNG.
Fr. Golly came from a very religious Catholic family in Silesia, Poland. Son of Josef and Anna (Przbyla) Golly, he grew up together with 7 siblings in this religious atmosphere. After 6 years of education at the Primary School in Cisowa, in the beginning of September 1946 he went to the Minor Seminary run by the Divine Word Missionaries at Nysa in Poland. On the 8th of September 1950 he began his novitiate at Pieniezno, also studying philosophy and theology there. On the 8th of September 1958 he professed perpetual vows and on the 1st of February was ordained priest. On the 25th of June that year he celebrated his First Mass in his home parish of Cisowa.
For some time afterwards he was a teacher at Minor Seminary at Nysa, and at the same time he was assistant parish priest at the SVD parish there. The following year he came to St. Augustine with an appointment for New Guinea. Here, with a larger group he was sent to his mission, in a ceremony presided by Fr. Superior General Johannes Schuette. In preparation for his mission work, he went to Liverpool in England to learn English. Then on the 25th August 1961 he sailed to Sydney from Genoa, Italy, on board of the ship “Oceania”.
On his arrival in PNG on 29th September 1961 he first had a short introduction to the language and the culture at Alexishafen. He took his first steps in pastoral work just three months later in Saidor. He stayed with Fr. Ottenheym (1915-1965). The beginnings were not easy in this area of 6 thousand population with13 different local languages and the Cargo Cult!
From 1964 till 1966 he worked at Bundi. This station was famous for the English School which his confrere Fr. M. Morrison had founded only few years earlier. Fr. Golly dedicated himself first of all to the education of catechists, so that with them he could take care of the 7 thousand inhabitants on 20 outstations. He wrote commentaries to the catechism. After his Nemi course in 1966 he gave retreats for teachers and catechists at Kwanga on the Ramu River, and later throughout the whole diocese. From 1967 till 1972 he worked at Utu. He had to take care of 17 outstations there. His stress here was educating new catechists. On the 1st of November the station was shaken by a powerful earthquake. In 1972 he returned to Saidor working there till 1981. He taught catechists and gave retreats in the new all purpose hall. The following two years (1981/83) he worked at Bogia.
Then from 1983 till 1991 he committed himself to the Legion of Mary, publishing a lot of materials to educate and support the legionaries. From 1991 till 1993 he was in charge of the Diocesan Office for the Youth. And since 1993 he was a parish priest at “Our Lady of Perpetual Help” parish Yomba, Madang.
Fr. Golly was a zealous religious missionary. He followed the example of the saintly Founder of his congregation, Arnold Janssen and his companion Josef Freinademetz, the first SVD missionary. In everything he kept striving to get to know the will of God and to do it. Always and above all he was the hard working missionary, as his Provincial had described him. “He was not giving the devil any chances”.
For him, mission (being sent) expressed the essential meaning of his life. He gave himself totally, body and soul, to the missionary command of Jesus. Nothing could stop him from fulfilling that command: the often strange rituals and cults, customs and traditions keeping people from freedom. He was convinced that the truth, which Christ brings, can make people free! Fr. Golly translated and published so many texts on liturgy, homiletics, lives of saints! In his pastoral approach it was important for him to give people a life-giving and fulfilling faith.
We Divine Word Missionaries thank him for his faithful service in the Lord’s vineyard in PNG. We mourn him together with the young Church of the Archdiocese of Madang, which lost another good shepherd. We also thank his relatives and benefactors, who kept encouraging and helping him over the years. Together with them he was a missionary in PNG. May he rest in peace!