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Destiny fulfilled: Fr Rex enters the priesthood

KomKui people celebrate first Catholic priest

Ordination of Fr Rex Dokta
Archbishop Douglas Young ordains Fr Rex Dokta, the first Catholic priest from the KomKui area

PORT MORESBY – On Thursday last week, at the Tiling ceremonial grounds in Mt Hagen, the people of Moge tribe witnessed the ordination of the KomKui area’s first priest, Father Rex Andrew Dokta SVD.

The KomKui people had made their Covenant with God more than 40 years ago, on 18 December 1980.

The Covenant placed God first and encouraged people to refrain from tribal warfare and animosity and focus on improving their lives.

The word KomKui derives from a union between two Moge tribes - Moge Komonka and Moge Kuipi - at the time the Covenant was signed.

Contrary to a plethora of social research and media coverage that has presented the Highlands region as caught up in a perpetual cycle of tribal violence, the Moge tribes consciously abandoned tribal fighting and sought peace many years ago.

The Covenant required the KomKui to place God first, to make all decisions of the tribe in conformity with the teachings of Jesus.

Most significantly in their cultural situation, was the vow that they would never go to war or retaliate against those who harmed the KomKui, their people or their property.

So for all KomKui people, 18 December 1980 is remembered as the day they made a Covenant with God.

The KomKui had their last tribal fight in 1942, and continued to live in fear of, and bore great animosity towards, their tribal ‘enemies’, until they signed the Covenant in 1980.

This allowed them to set aside all ill-feeling and to be at peace through the Word of God.

They established their own Council of Churches comprising seven representative denominations which provided the community with guidance.

The other notable outcome of the Covenant was that the community successfully ventured into business in the ensuing years through a KomKui business arm.

Two notable investments were the iconic six-storey KomKui Haus in the centre of Mt Hagen and the two-storey AGC Haus opposite it.

They also have the Youth with a Mission (YWAM) facility, Camp Kalina, located in tribal grounds in the mountains of Kalina.

Many notable pastors have been born in the KomKui area, one of whom is Reverend Philip Tony Dalaka of the Gateway Cornerstone Church.

The pioneers who led KomKui through these times included the late Chief Andrew Dokta, the late Puis Tikili and the late Barnabas Paraka.

Each of these men was at the helm of the movement that changed the course of history of the people of Mt Hagen.

The KomKui people wanted one more blessing from the coming of peace: one of their highest goals was for a KomKui son to be ordained as a Catholic priest.

This dream was realised on 19 January when Father Rex Andrew Dokta – son of the late Chief Andrew Dokta - was ordained as a Catholic priest.

The ceremony was broadcast live throughout the world on Radio Maria through the support of the Catholic faithful in Mt Hagen.

Tomorrow - Leo Noki,  CEO of the Mt Hagen City Authority, on the importance to the KomKui community of Fr Rex Dokta's ordination


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Mavis Veronica Host

Just wondering about your contributor, Garrett Roche.

My maiden name is Roche and my ancestors came from Cork in Ireland and settled in the Warwick and Toowoomba areas of Queensland.

I worked for the Administration in PNG from 1967 to 1981 in Port Moresby, Rabaul and Madang.

First I was secretary to the Director of Transport and then went to Rabaul and Madang teaching secretarial studies.

Garrett Roche

Phil, Thank you for your kind words.

Philip Fitzpatrick

I suspected as much, Garrett.

I've always liked the Divine Word missionaries. They were the most human, humble and dedicated of all the missionaries I came across in PNG and elsewhere in the Pacific.

I got the distinct impression they were interested in not just the spiritual wellbeing of their flocks but, very importantly, their physical and social wellbeing as well.

And the they didn't mind sharing an ale or two.

Garrett Roche

Phil - The new priest, Fr Rex Dokta, is a member of the Divine Word missionary congregation.

Those who join this congregation know that they may be asked to work overseas. Fr Rex's time in Kenya was part of his education and formation as a priest.

He may be posted back to Kenya, but he is always free to return as a priest to PNG. Indeed he may be asked to return to PNG if his associates in PNG feel he is more needed in PNG than in Kenya.

I know of one priest from the upper Jimi who has been in Ghana for more than 20 years. A priest from Sepik has been many years in Bolivia. Another Hagen priest is in Jamaica, and one from Bougainville is in Bulawayo in Zimbabwe.

It could be argued that they are needed in PNG, but the overseas experience is also worthwhile.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Just curious - why Kenya and not PNG?

Tony Noki

Thank you, Garrett and Keith.

Yes, Father Rex spent time in Kenya during his training. He has received his official posting to Kenya and will spent the rest of his years as a priest in Kenya in the mission field.

He spent almost 15 years in training to be ordained as priest.

Garrett Roche

The KomKui have had previous mention in PNG Attitude:

And the late Pius Tikili of the KomKui also got honourable mention in PNG Attitude:

The KomKui are to be praised for their ecumenical endeavours. It is many years since I did some work among them, but I do remember that the various church groups did cooperate well.

As stated in the article, the KomKui have, since 1942, generally avoided the cycle of tribal violence that has afflicted many parts of the Highlands.

At the same time I am aware of other groups - some in the Jimi, some in Nebyler - who have likewise managed to live relatively peacefully.

There may be similar groups in Enga and Southern Highlands and elsewhere. Good local leadership is, in my opinion, one of the key factors in ensuring peace.

And, if I remember correctly, the newly ordained priest, Fr Rex, had spent some time in Nairobi in Kenya as an overseas training student.

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