03/06/2013 18:05

Star of Melanesia

On Thursday, the 18th of April 2013 at the Government House, Konedobu in Port Moresby at 2pm the ceremony of investiture of honors took place. Bp. Francesco Sarego received from the hands of Governor General Sir Michael Ogio the Order of the Star of Melanesia for Fr. Dario Monegatti for service to the community as a Catholic priest of the Missionary Society of the Divine Word over 40 years in a number of provinces including Bougainville during the rebellion and subsequent difficult period.

I went with Brother Raj to accompany Bishop Francesco, and I was impressed with what I have seen. People were coming well before 2 pm. There were chairs set in rows under canopy of big tree. There were three portable bars set up with glasses waiting to be filled. On the elevation to the left next to the house Band of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary took place and entertained with music those waiting for the ceremony. Those to be invested with honors were called into Government House for a roll call. They all got small decoration with orchid flowers pin on their breasts. MS welcomed invited guests, informed them on the protocol of the ceremony, and said that Government House is the only historical building in Port Moresby. It used to belong to Australian government, and at the time of independence it was given over to Papua New Guinea. MS invited all guests to enjoy the day.

Shortly after 2 pm the sound of pipes could be heard. It was a sign that the Governor General Grand Chief Sir Michael Ogio is coming. He came dressed in all his regalia accompanied by his wife and a secretary. Half way down the stairs covered with red carpet he stopped, so stopped the pipes. At that moment the Royal Constabulary band played part of British national anthem. The Governor came down the rest of the steps and stood at the bottom of the stairs, his wife and secretary took seat to the left. Now MS read the names of those to be invested with orders together with reason for the award, beginning from the greatest honors.

The first to receive the order was Bishop Anthony Burges. He was invested with the insignia of the “Grand Companion of the Order of Logohu” for service to the Catholic Church and the community through his leadership in pastoral work and delivery of social services over many years as a priest and more recently as a Bishop of Wewak Diocese in East Sepik Province. The third the name of Father Dario Monegatti was called. Bishop Francesco went to receive for him insignia of the “Companion of the Order of the Star of Melanesia”. The Governor handed it to him in closed red box with Father Dario’s name on it.

When all those to be invested with honors received their orders and went back to their seats came the time for shaking hands with the Governor. They all in turn from first to the last went for that personal touch of the great authority and we have seen another parade of people who contributed so much to the community in many different fields. When that was over there was a time for photo session. All invested went to take place on the long steps of the Government House. There was an official photographer but most of the people had their cameras also. There was a photo of all together and also each invested person was given chance for an individual photograph with the Governor, family members and friends being the photographers, but if someone had nobody to take a photo for him, the official photographer stepped in to help and make that day memorable for all.

With the photo session over, the Governor General took his leave up the stairs and the red carpet. Half up the stairs he stood at attention for few tunes from British national anthem, and afterwards climbed the rest of the stairs to disappear in the house. The protocol of the investiture was over. MC invited all those gathered to enjoy drinks and finger foods provided for that occasion by PNG government and served by smiling hostesses. People gathered into small groups of relatives and friends.

We the Church people gathered around Bishop Anthony Burges and Bishop Francesco Sarego. I was glad to see how happy bishop Tony was on that day. Bishop Rolando Santos and Father Peter Artiken were there to accompany Bishop Tony. We chatted merrily for a while enjoying the food and drinks. The weather was sunny with a light breeze.

Papua New Guinea’s own national honours and awards system known as “The Orders of Papua New Guinea”, was formally established on the 23rd August 2005 by authority of The Queen and Head of State of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Second. The Queen is the Sovereign and Head of The Orders of Papua New Guinea. Her representative, the Governor General of Papua New Guinea is the Chancellor of The Orders of Papua New Guinea and Principal Grand Companion of the Order of Logohu.

Written by

Joseph Maciolek