Yule Island's pioneer Bishop de Boismenu on the path to sainthood
26 April 2014
POPE Francis has officially recognised the “heroic virtues” of Alain-Marie Guynot de Boismenu, former Apostolic Vicar of Yule Island, who just before Easter was declared “Venerable”.
There is now the need of a miracle to enable Alain de Moismenu to become a “Blessed” and from there a “Saint.
de Boismenu was born in 1870 in Britanny in France, the 11th and last child in his family. He never knew his mother since she died 15 days after his birth so his elder sister brought him up.
He always wanted to become a missionary and during his novitiate in Belgium he displayed a strong missionary spiritand made his first profession as a Missionary of the Sacred Heart in 1888.
Between 1888 and 1891 he completed philosophical and theological studies in Antwerp, then taught in an apostolic school before being ordained priest in 1895.
Some years earlier, de Boismenu had written to Father Henry Verius MSC, the pioneer missionary who arrived at Yule Island in 1885, seeking his advice about the best way to prepare himself for live in the mission.
Verius’s advice was: “Here you need 100 times more virtue, spirit of sacrifice and spirit of faith than in Europe… Consider excellent the day when you are opposed, exercise yourself often in patience, in putting up with the faults of your brothers; this point is essential, patience with yourself, with others and above all with the natives who discourage you in the mission such a habit of patience is so necessary.”
As a teacher, de Boismenu was popular amongst his students and he developed an interest in social questions. He was concerned about the working conditions of the poor and theological aspects of the Pope’s teaching.
Alain de Boismenu received news of his appointment to the Yule Island mission in August 1897, arriving in Sydney towards end of October. However, some of his colleagues were skeptical about his suitability for the vigorous life of the mission. They were very mistaken.
He travelled to Yule Island, being appointed Bishop in 1900. He was in the office for 45 years = retiring to Kubuna in 1945 and dying on 5 November 1953.
de Boismenu set out to improve the living conditions of the missionaries and to strengthen the administration to offer better support to the missionaries in the field.
He was a very good diplomat in tribal conflicts and in dealing with the colonial Administration and the rival Protestant missions as the churches developed the policy of “spheres of influence” in Papua and New Guinea.
He reorganized the structure of mission life to regroup missionaries into communities of about six or seven members. Such an arrangement alleviated serious problems of isolation and loneliness.
The men were able to move out from the central station to minister at different outstations; but also had a base, a community, to which they could return for support and companionship.
de Boismenu believed in indigenous vocations so he founded the women’s Congregation of the Handmaids of Our Lord and, for the men, the Little Brothers of the Sacred Heart. Later he promoted the first indigenous priest, Fr Louis Vangeke MSC, who was ordained in 1937 and consecrated Bishop in 1970.
Just before Easter, the Catholic Church in PNG received news that Archbishop Alain Guynot de Boismenu, former Apostolic Vicar of Yule Island, has been declared “Venerable”, the first step along the pathway to sainthood.
Did Bishop de Boismenu have any memoirs about his life on Yule Island?
Posted by: Helen Bure | 24 March 2023 at 03:15 PM
Would you have any information on Bure To'i and his family on Yule Island
Also I would like to know the history of how the first missionaries landed on Yule Island and which local man they first met and talked to?
Posted by: Kevin Bure | 10 November 2020 at 09:39 AM
To Lorreine Arua and Kevin Aisi.
There is a book written on the Early Catholic Missionaries life and their activities during the late 70s and early 80s. The book is called the Mustard Seed: From a French Missionary to a Papuan Church written and collated by George Delbos...if I can recall correctly. The book also includes narrations relating to early LMS missionaries also, well quite a fair bit but the bulk of the book relates to the early Catholic missionaries arrival on Yule Island and their journey inland to Mekeo, Kubuna and inward towards the mountains of Goilala. It is a fascinating book which i hope you will find what you are looking for.
You can also find writings from Bishop Luis Vegeke, many articles from MSC priests and narrations from Priests like the late Fr Budour, Fr Dominic, Fr Peter Miria, Cardinal John Ribat MSC, Sisters of Nazareth (ADB nuns) and many more...happy reading!
Posted by: Thomas | 30 June 2020 at 04:10 PM
Archbishop Alain Guynot de Boismenu being declared a saint is long time overdue. they are also other missionaries who deserved to be blessed or saints are forgotten. the cause of canonisation is a tedious and long process and could took years awaiting miracles and prayers intercession. it involves theologians and as well as psychologists and medical doctors to verify miracles and faith healings from sicknesses. other churches wouldn't understand such thing and would refer as cult. as a catholic I know that there has to be more than three miracles with prayer intercession and other means before someone is declared a saint. we have many holy people but cant make all of them saints as the process is complicated.
Posted by: philip kai morre | 30 June 2020 at 12:56 AM
Hello James Anderson,
The history of “Yankee Ned” Eduard Mosby and his ship “Josh” taking missionaries from Yule to Mekeo under special situations is explained with many details in the book Mitsinary, pages 57-60, by MSC Father Xavier Vergés.
Posted by: Xavier Calvo Vergés | 29 June 2020 at 04:39 AM
Hello, I am Xavier Calvo Vergés. My grand uncle was Father Xavier Vergés (1917-2004) who was a MSC in Mekeo between 1948 and 1986.
Father Vergés wrote two books in Spanish:
- Mosaico Papú (Papuan Mosaic). 1st Edition 1956, 2nd Edition 2007. In this book he explains the life in Mekeo and many personal histories. The first chapter is dedicated to the pioneer MSC Missionaries in Yule, Roro and Mekeo in the late 1800s. It can be found in Amazon https://www.amazon.com/MOSAICO-PAPU-XAVIER-VERGES/dp/849663311X/ref=sr_1_7?dchild=1&keywords=Xavier+Vergés&qid=1593367659&sr=8-7
- Mitsinari, 1991, also published by MSC in Spain. This 200 pages book explains the life of Mns. Enrique Verius, with full details on his arrival in Yule and Mekeo. Some second hand units can also be found in Amazon Spain https://www.amazon.es/Mitsinari-Xavier-Vergés/dp/B00IMJQAKU/ref=sr_1_1?__mk_es_ES=ÅMÅŽÕÑ&crid=135YO6C7JGNPC&dchild=1&keywords=mitsinari&qid=1593368772&sprefix=Mitsinar%2Caps%2C180&sr=8-1
Posted by: Xavier Calvo Vergés | 29 June 2020 at 04:28 AM
My name is Lorraine Arua, my mother's name is Monique Haia'o. She has two 2 siblings, Genevie and Alain. Their fathers name was Henry Haia'o Aisi from Yule Island.
I would like to know more on Bishop Alain de Boismenu and his stay on Yule Island
Posted by: Lorraine Arua | 25 March 2020 at 05:50 PM
I would like to know the history on how the first missionaries landed on Yule Island and which local man they first met and talked to?
Posted by: Kevin Aisi | 20 September 2019 at 04:52 PM
My great great grandfather took Catholic missionaries to Yule Island in his boat as a favour to Bishop de Boismenu as the Catholics had amputated his leg in Cooktown Hospital.
His name was Edward Mosby an American sailor based on Yorke Island in the Torres Strait.
At the time the Colony of Queensland forbade the Catholics from entering Papua, it was their policy. In any case he took the missionaries there.The rest is history....
Posted by: James Anderson | 09 March 2019 at 03:30 PM