06/09/2012 07:14

Port Moresby and Townsville now sister dioceses.

By Fr Michael M. Igo - Archdiocese of Port Moresby.

Archbishop John Ribat MSC of Port Moresby and Bishop Michael Putney of Townsville, Australia signed an agreement of mutual cooperation between the two dioceses on 5 August 2012 in Port Moresby and sealed it three weeks later in Townsville. The underlying theme of the agreement is “Faith in action through Communion”, for greater cooperation and close working relationship between the two dioceses.

The Townsville delegation, led by Bishop Michael Putney, arrived in Port Moresby on Thursday, 2 August and first visited some of the Catholic schools in the city, where they were given hearty welcomes by teachers and students.

On 4 August they travelled to the Holy Family parish at Boregaina, where they were received with traditional dances and fanfare. The two and half hour drive to the hinterlands of the Central Province did not seem to bother them. Enthusiastic local people led the delegates into the parish church for the celebration of the Eucharist with the local parishioners. Children and adults had walked over seven hours to attend the special occasion. Bishop Michael Putney presided over the Mass and in his sermon reiterated the message of mutual cooperation between the people of the Archdiocese of Port Moresby and Townsville. He also said that the special bond that they were about to create would be founded on the faith in Christ.

In the morning of Sunday, 5 August, at the Don Bosco Technological Institute Gymnasium in Boroko, Archbishop John Ribat and Bishop Michael Putney signed the agreement during the Eucharistic celebration in the presence of Arch. Santo Gangemi, the Papal representative to Papua New Guinea, and the Governor General of the country. About ten thousand faithful were in attendance.

On his turn, Archbishop John Ribat led a delegation of clergy and laity from Port Moresby to Townsville the last week of August. Sunday 26 was the day scheduled for the sealing of the agreement and the final launching ceremony for the “Sister relationship program”. The celebration was attended by a number of different Catholic ethnic groups (Tokelau, New Zealand, Samoa, Italy, France, Africa, Spanish speaking, and PNG).

In his homily Bishop Michael Putney recognized that there is already a 30 year old civic relationship in place between Townsville and Port Moresby. There is also a relationship between the University of Papua New Guinea and James Cook University in Townsville. The new signing between the two dioceses is meant to enhance this relationship, but on a different level, by fostering mutual cooperation in the fields of Liturgy, Education, Youth ministry, Family life, and Health services.


Bond of friendship

The Sister Relationship Program between the Archdiocese of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, and the diocese of Townsville, Australia, is visualized with a Logo designed by Sr. Virgie Gayon, a Daughter of Saint Paul.                                       


  • Black hand: represents Papua New Guinea
  • White hand: represents Australia
  • Shaking hands: symbol of sisterhood, communion, sharing,                                                               unity, friendship and partnership
  • Cross: symbol of Christ, the source of communion and centre of life and salvation
  • Black cross: color of Papua New Guinea / the Cross of PNG
  • White hands holding the cross: represents “acceptance by Australia of PNG’s friendship and partnership, etc.”
  • Open Bible: The Word of God, the source of preaching / action
  • Blue color: symbol of faith

                        Sr Virgie Gayon, FSP

(CBC Communications 010912 – giorgiolicini@yahoo.com)