LAST Sunday was a day of celebration for the parishioners of Mary Queen of the Pacific. It marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Mission Society of the Philippines (MSP).
The Filipino community in Port Moresby and members of the church held a mass together and followed this with food and entertainment.
The Society itself founded by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines in 1965, which saw a need to expand its mission work to neighbouring countries.
The Mary Queen of the Pacific Parish is located at North Waigani in Port Moresby. It has been part of the MSP mission since its arrival in 1981, work that has since extended to Kerema, Daru, Kiunga, Vanimo and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
The main celebrant was Fr Eladio B Oliver MSP, who was a parish priest in PNG and has since become MSP’s Father Moderator and Superior General.
He was in PNG for seven years before his departure to American Samoa where he started MSP’s mission.
“I was in PNG from 1994 to 1999 at the Utai Catholic Mission in Vanimo and from 1999 to 2001 at Mary Queen of the Pacific.
“After that I left to establish the church in American Samoa and since then I’ve held the title of Superior General for 10 years and Father Moderator for a second year,” Fr Oliver said.
“I thought I would not come back to PNG but God has given me this huge task and now I have the chance to meet you again,” Fr Oliver said during his homily.
He spoke about mission work and challenged the parishioners to carry on the mission of the church.
“Jesus is asking all of us disciples, he’s counting on us to be aware of the great responsibility we have as Christians. That’s what mission Sunday is all about, that we should share the gift of faith to others.
“Mission is obligatory not optional for the church that’s why, in 1965, the Catholic Bishops conference of the Philippines decided that we had grown in faith and it’s now time to share the gift of faith to others.”
Fr Oliver challenged parishioners to pray for God’s call to do his work.
“Missionaries will not stay forever in one place,” he said. “You should be praying that one day a local priest should be here in this church and dream about sending local priests abroad to do mission work.”
He said it would be nice to see the mission work of Papua New Guinea expand to other nations, saying it is the role of a baptised Christian to do mission work and not only a priest.
“It is my dream and the dream of others that someday we will see the Mission Society of Papua New Guinea.
“I have to tell you that I will be 25 years as a priest next year and the years I spent in PNG were the golden years of my missionary life.
“On behalf of MSP I would like to express my gratitude to all of you here gathered, for all of you who have been partners in the mission,” he said.