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Holy Spirit missionary sisters to celebrate 115 years in PNG

PNG leadership team -Sr Valsi Kurian, India; Sr Agnes Teresa Lisban, PNG; Sr Anna Damas, Germany (Provincial Leader ); Sr Davida Strojek, Poland and Sr Rosita Thomas, ChileSR MARY ANTHIDA KUECKMANN SSpS

ON Monday 8 December, Foundation Day, the six missionary Sisters of the Holy Spirit (SSpS) on the staff of Divine Word University (DWU) in Madang will celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Congregation, 115 years in Papua New Guinea and 45 years of service at DWU.

The campus family will join them in thanksgiving. Two of the early teaching sisters, Sr Inez Strobl (now at Alexishafen) and Sr Edith Thies (Malala) will be special guests of honour, along with Sr Heline Senft, who has been guiding and caring for the student religious sisters for many years.

Historical pictures are being prepared to show a timeline paying tribute to all the sisters who have been teaching or serving on the staff of DWU.

The Holy Mass will be presided by Fr Jan Czuba, SVD, President of DWU, and co-celebrated by other Divine Word missionaries and priests. The SVD priests and the Holy Spirit sisters have St Arnold Janssen, a German priest from the nineteenth century, as their common founder.

In Goroka, the celebration will take on a triple character: 125th Jubilee anniversary of the Congregation, the Golden Jubilee of Sr Cecilia Koesters and the Diamond Jubilee of Sr Marianetta Hilt; both in PNG for many years.

Sr Cecilia is a nurse by profession and has been provincial leader and novice directress, while Sr Marianetta served in several communities as cook and manager, instructing many young girls in practical life skills.

There will be thanksgiving masses and celebrations in the various places where the Holy Spirit sisters are present: at the Provincial House in Alexishafen outside Madang; in the three communities of East Sepik; and in the Enga, Western Highlands, Simbu, Eastern Highlands and Port Moresby communities.

As well as DWU, Malala Secondary School in Madang Province is another big teaching engagement for the missionary sisters.

Besides formal and informal teaching and nursing, the Holy Spirit Sisters have been at the forefront in training and guiding young women in family like work, financial management, the fight against HIV/AIDS, spiritual guidance and counselling.

As proactive religious women, the sisters have played an integral part in the local church by being involved both at the grassroots and diocesan and national levels.

Sr Florence Utah SSpSThe number of national sisters now stands at 23. Some of them are serving overseas in Australia, Fiji, Ghana, Togo, St Kitts, USA, and the Philippines. 

Sr Florence Utah (left), who has been in Ethiopia for six years, is now preparing for her new mission in South Sudan, where her skills as a nurse and midwife are urgently needed.

As our 3,500 Sisters around the world in over 40 countries celebrate 8 December together with our Founding Generation in heaven and with all the sisters who have gone before us, we ask God’s blessing for our present and future mission in the spirit of our General Chapter 2014: “Empowered by the Spirit, sharing the good news among peoples”.

Main picture: PNG leadership team: Sr Valsi Kurian, India; Sr Agnes Teresa Lisban, PNG; Sr Anna Damas, Germany (Provincial Leader); Sr Davida Strojek, Poland, and Sr Rosita Thomas, Chile


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Daniel Doyle

From within the Department of Education, I had the privilege of supporting the indefatigable Sr Jane Francis and her team at Malala in establishing one of the first two secondary schools offering Grades 11 and 12 in the country.

Under Sr Jane Francis' leadership they did a superb job, topping the Grade 12 results in their first year.

Congratulations on over a century of dedicated service to education in PNG.

Bomai D Witne

The Holy Spirit Sisters joined our ancestral Spirits in reaching out to Papua New Guineans over the years. Your work and lived experiences connect the spiritual realm of angels to our physical realm.

Our mere appreciation and thank you would not be enough for your selfless dedication and commitment to educate and make us find our position in our community. Thank you, you Sisters and congratulations on your 125th anniversary.

Paulus Ripa

Congratulations to the Holy Spirit Sisters on their anniversary. It was a great privilege to have known them and to be educated by them.

They have done a huge amount of working education several generations of Papua New Guineans as well as in health services and in many other ways.

Personally, it has been a hugely gratifying experience in being taught by the late Srs Josepha, Walfridis and Mary Claire and the surviving nuns in Srs Inez, Edith and Mary Linda. I also had the great privilege of working with those in the health sector, the late Srs Gaudi and Kinga who made huge contributions to health care in the Highlands and that paragon of Catholic Health services in PNG; Sr Tarcissia.

Sister Tarscissia has at an individual level contributed more to HIV services in PNG than anybody else I know.

They work without fanfare and glory and their contribution to PNG has been truly immense.

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