An entry in the Crocodile Prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Journalism
THIS month Father Michele Morando offered two special retreats to the parishioners at Mary Help of Christians Parish.
The retreats were targeted at the youth and the laity in the church in preparation for seminarian Vincent Kawage’s deaconate vows on Saturday at Kefamo.
The term deacon originates from Greek, meaning ‘servant’. Christian churches have adopted the term to refer to missionaries and laity.
In the Catholic faith, it refers to a seminarian who makes his vows to God through the church to become the servant of the gospel.
Fr Michele made several references to the Bible and linked the messages to the life of a seminarian, deacon and missionary. He talked of the great offer by the father of faith, Abraham, who was prepared to show evidence of his faith by slaughtering his son, Issac in an offering to God.
God intervened and provided Abraham with a lamb to slaughter instead. Fr Michele linked this Old Testament story to the New Testament account of Jesus cleaning his disciples’ feet. This is the story of Jesus, the son of God who was priest, prophet and king, showing humility and servanthood.
Like the lamb to Abraham, Jesus was the Lamb of God, who died on the cross for mankind, reminding mankind of the journey of a priest, prophet and king fulfilling the mission of the Father.
The Catholic Church has now recognised Vincen Kawage’s journey as a seminarian to answer God’s call of continuing the legacy of Jesus as a priest, prophet and king.
Vincent is now ready to answer God’s call of servant of the gospel and the church. Vincent’s answer will come after he leaves his parents and takes a neutral position in church, which symbolises that the answer to be a servant is his own decision and he will stick to this throughout his life.
Fr Michele warned parishioners that the work of a deacon is not easy and requires support from everyone in the church.
The parishioners as laity were asked to facilitate activities that would strength Vincent in his pastoral activities. Inviting a deacon to many cartons of beer and a party may not help strengthen his work. The youths were told to respect the deacon as a person and servant of the gospel.
Fr Michele stressed that in many societies, an unmarried person is considered psychologically ill.
In Papua New Guinea, parents and relatives are concerned at this and arrange to assist in finding a woman for their son. However, a seminarian, deacon and missionary in the Catholic Church is not psychologically ill but chooses to offer himself to God in servanthood. They are continuing the legacy of Jesus to fulfill his Father’s plan on earth.
Parents were warned to educate their daughters on the work of missionaries and to teach them the appropriate ways to respect and relate to missionaries. The same message was delivered to youth.
Vincent was in a separate retreat with the Bishop and I am sure that similar advice would be given to him on how he relates to the parishioners and youth.
The parishioners including myself were thankful to our Parish Priest for such a wonderful and insightful retreat, the first of its kind for most of us.