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Kefamo helps Fr Franco celebrate 50 years of priesthood


SUNDAY 28 September was a day the parishioners at Saint Mary Help of Christians Parish, Kefamo, will not forget for a long time.

For this was the day they celebrated the life and journey of selfless SVD Catholic Priest, Father Franco Zocca.

Fr Franco told parishioners during his homily that he grew up in a family of prayer. His mum would pray to the Lord to make any of the members become a missionary.

At the time, Fr Franco did not know God would answer his mother’s prayer and lead him to become an SVD Priest and missionary.

But when he was just 11 years old, he began to engage in prayers and other activities that led him to realise God’s call for him.

Fr Franco has not looked back since he made his priestly vows on 28 September 1964 in Italy. He is a truly remarkable priest, having served people in different communities over the years – Italy, Britain, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

I heard that he is passionate about people’s culture and has learned as much as he can to understand them. He has used the knowledge he has acquired to mentor the laity and young missionaries of different orders.

Fr Franco’s request to celebrate his 50 year journey at Kefamo was a rare opportunity that the parishioners welcomed and embraced with open arms.

The last time, Kefamo experienced a similar event was when the Bishop of Goroka, Most Reverend Bishop Francesco Sarego, celebrated 25 years of priesthood. The parishioners could not wait to lead Fr Franco and parish priest Fr Michele in a procession with the Simbu yodel, ‘puu wooo’, and a song in Kuman.

Fr Michele, a fellow Italian priest who is in our country for a short time, expressed the joy of his parishioners coming together to celebrate the Eucharist and Fr Franco’s tireless journey. 

The Saint Francis of Assisi Christian community’s bible procession led the sermon with the Gospel of Mathew on the story of the two sons, one who refused to obey his father’s command and the other who obeyed his father’s command.

Fr Franco recalled the promises he made on the day of his ordination and likened his priesthood journey to the obedient son in the gospel of Mathew. He revealed that it was not easy to keep to his priestly vows for 50 years.

In his sermon, he said the three vows of chastity, poverty and obedience had remained in his heart and prayers, and he tried each day to live to his vows. The adversities he faced along the way had made him strong and committed.

Fr Franco added that several life characteristics of Jesus from the gospel also served as his guiding principles in his journey as a disciple of Jesus and he encouraged Christians to do the same each day.

He reminded the parishioners of the question that Peter raised to Jesus, “We are leaving everything behind to follow you so tell us what we are going to get from it?”

The disciples of Jesus have been inspired by the truth in the answer to this question to pursue and emulate the life and journey of Jesus. Fr Franco’s 50 year journey was a manifestation of this truth.

There are many missionaries and laity who embrace the living truth and the word of God and have shared it with people of other cultures and communities.

Fr Franco prayed and thanked God for his guardian, Saint Joseph Freinademetz, an Austrian born SVD missionary who had spent most of his life in China. He said his guardian wrote to his family from China telling them that he was Chinese, would die Chinese and enter Heaven a Chinese.

Fr Franco prayed and thanked God that he was a Papua New Guinean, would die here and enter heaven a Papua New Guinean. The parishioners were very emotional at this juncture. Some clapped and others remained quiet with silent tears.

The parishioners of Kefamo were privileged to be part of Fr Franco’s family, friends, fellow SVD priests, other priests, sisters, brothers and the community of Christians and non-Christians that he had lived and worked with over his priesthood years who celebrated this moment.

The decorations inside and outside of the church were expressions of the parishioners’ joy. The bilum and the card presented to him were from their hearts and would remind him of his special connection with the people he had served over the last 50 tears and would continue to serve in the future.

Fr Franco, we join you in thanking God for the last 50 years and wish you well in the next 50 years of your journey.


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Giorgio Licini

Fr Franco is saying that it was 50 years of religious profession vows. The priestly ordination took place a few years later.

But he is indeed happy for all the praise and prayers.

Bomai D Witne

Samuel, thanks for the correction. It should be 'Kefamo' in EHP and not Kefano.

Editor's mistake. Now fixed, I hope - KJ

Samuel Roth

I was taught by this great priest who knows a lot about witchcraft, sorcery and sanguma. He has researched extensively and published books and I salute Fr Franco.

BTW, where would this lovely place called Kefano be? Chimbu or EHP?

May God keep Fr Franco healthy and young.

Peter Pirape Anage

Yes, clocking 50 years in the service of God and fellow men is no easy feat. Truly a true servant of the Most High God.

How lovely are the feet of those who bring good news for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Thank you Fr Franco, you are assured of your riches in Heaven and may God continue to strengthen you to live in his service and the services of other fellow men.

Praise and glory to God. Amen.

Arnold Mundua

A true servant of the most high above. The SVDs left behind big footprints and indelible memories wherever they walked and settled in the highlands to spread the word of God.

We thank Fr Franco on this occasion of his 50 years priesthood work and pray that God continues to bless him in the next 50 years.

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