Destiny fulfilled: Fr Rex enters the priesthood
28 January 2023
Leo Noki is CEO of the Mt Hagen City Authority.
This article is derived from the speech Mr Noki
gave on behalf of the KomKui community at
the ordination of Father Rex Andrew Dokta
MT HAGEN - The Catholic Church in the Western Highlands Province conducts its mission under the leadership of Archbishop Douglas Young with the support of the more than 200,000 Catholic congregation.
I should note here that Holy Trinity Cathedral in Mt Hagen was opened and dedicated by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle only in October last year.
The landmark cathedral took 10 years to build at a cost of K15 million. It will last for many years to the benefit of many generations to come.
It is one of the many monuments the Catholic Church has built throughout Mt Hagen and Papua New Guinea which have served us all.
Many schools, hospitals, townships, colleges and other developments have all been made possible by the hands of the mother church of our Christian Faith.
I was educated at the Holy Trinity Demonstration Primary School in Mt Hagen as were my siblings and all my children.
There were many others before and after us and I thank the Catholic Church, which arrived in Mt Hagen 93 years ago.
Before today, there were 24 Papua New Guineans ordained as SVD (Society of the Divine Word) priests.
Now Fr Rex Andrew Dokta joins their ranks, as the first Catholic priest from the KomKui people.
In 2018, Archbishop Young ordained Fr Shadrach Ketiga, the first Catholic priest of the Moge Nambuka clan.
Since 1959, three Divine Word priests have taken the reins as Archbishop of Mt Hagen.
The first was Archbishop George Elmer Bernarding SVD, who served us for 30 years (1959-87) and after him came Archbishop Michael Meier SVD, who was with us for 19 years (1987-2006).
Archbishop Douglas William (Forever) Young SVD has served us for 16 years so far (2006-23).
The Society of the Divine Word is the world's largest Roman Catholic order of priests and brothers.
The society was founded in 1875 by Saint Arnold Janssen to focus on mission work, and now numbers more than 6,000 missionaries.
Father Rex has climbed another step into the echelons of the Society and the ranks of the Catholic Church.
I thank and pay tribute to his Dad, the late Chief Andrew Dokta.
I thank the Par Parish in Wabag all those who have been part of Rex’s journey for their contributions to Rex’s journey.
I also thank the parishes and outstations throughout PNG who contributed in one way or another.
Wherever you go, I pray that our Lord Jesus Christ will protect you.
On 18 December 1980, your fathers and grandfathers made peace with former enemies, received baptism into the Catholic Church and made a Covenant with God - to put God first, foreswear fighting and payback and use the words of Jesus as their guide in their dealings.
The man who led the KomKui people in making that tough decision was none other than your own father, the late Chief Andrew Dokta.
Your father, his brothers and fathers sent a broken spear to Rome after their ceremony in Tiling in December 1980 and, along with all his Moge people, invited the Pope to Mt Hagen.
Your father and tribesmen were again instrumental in.
Pope John Paul II, after receiving the invitation and hearing the tale of your fathers, decided he would follow the spear and in May 1984 visited Mt Hagen and celebrated mass before a huge crowd on at a place traditionally known as Uld.
This was your great-grandfather Mukulg’s ceremonial ground and it was renamed Pope John Paul II Oval, known in its abbreviated form as Pope’s Oval, when Pope John Paul II visited Mt Hagen.
And now, from today, you will be called a father and priest in the Holy Catholic Church.
I am told that your maternal grandfather from the Kopi tribe, a man known commonly as Kopi Ripa, together with the late Sir Wamp Wan, went to Keluwa, Olelbeng, and invited the pioneer priest Father William Ross to Wula and then Debra.
Sir Wamp changed the name Debra to Ripa Mul after your great-grandfather. This is the place we now know as Rebiamul.
Your paternal grandmother, Poki, from the Moge Kuipi clan, was married into the Kumdi tribe.
The Moge Kuipi people had enemies everywhere in the Western Highlands, some remnants of which had scattered to Kumdi as a result of the great battle, El lgangi, which was targeted at annihilating the Moge Kuipis.
This remnant group had been unable to join their Moge Kuipi brothers who had settled with other Moges in the area now known as KomKui.
Father William Ross, who now lived with the Moge people after Kopi Ripa’s help, walked to Kumdi and escorted the remnant Moge Kuipi people to Mt Hagen, leaving them in the mountains at Mambla.
When your paternal grandmother, Poki, saw her brothers leave with Fr Ross, she decided to leave here Kumdi husband and follow the priest and her brothers.
A few years after she arrived at Mambla, she married your grandfather.
Poki’s son, the late Chief Andrew Dokta, married Kopi Ripa’s daughter, Kopi Agnes, and gave birth to you.
After learning of these stories, I now see and confirm that it was your destiny all along to serve the Catholic Church as a priest.
I am very sure that your father, the late Chief Andrew Dokta, the late Puis Tikili, the late Barnabas Paraka, and others like them who have since passed on, are celebrating in heaven that this day has come to pass.
A son of KomKui has been ordained in the same place here at Tiling where it all started 42 years ago, in December 1980.
With that, on behalf of the people of KomKui, I thank the Catholic Church.
On behalf of the Pentecostals, I thank the Catholic Church.
On behalf of all the denominations of the Christian faith in Western Highlands, I thank the Catholic Church.
For introducing education to us, I thank the Catholic Church.
For introducing hospitals and medicines , I thank the Catholic Church.
For all you have done, I thank you.
And above all, I thank the Catholic Church for introducing this person known as Jesus Christ to us.
I thank the Catholic Church on behalf of us all here. Many times, we have failed to acknowledge you and the work the church has done.
On behalf of all denominations and believers and non-believers, we thank the Catholic Church.
Now you have ordained one of ours to serve in one of the highest orders of the church.
We are honoured.
May God bless the Pope and the Catholic Church and may the name of Jesus be exalted above all.
God bless you all.
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