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Death of Aitape’s last Franciscan bishop

| Facebook | Thanks to Rob Parer

Gone from our midst
All now gone from our midst: Bishop Austen Crapp OFM CBE,  Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, Bishop Tony Burgess (Gianni Gattei)

AITAPE - I am deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Bishop Austen Crapp OFM at Sydney Royal Hospital yesterday at 5 am, a day after his 90th birthday.

An era has ended with Bishop Crapp's death, for this great man was the last  missionary priest of the Franciscan Diocese of Aitape. He had served our people as parish priest and bishop for more than 40 years.

I came to know Bishop Crapp when he was the parish priest at Pes Catholic Mission from 1994 to 1996, when he was not yet a bishop.

Like the priests before him - Fr Leo Leonie and Fr Gailes - I was his altar boy each Sunday.

Everyone should know how to rise again, even if they are a worse sinner, was one of the teachings of Fr Crapp when he was at Pes.

He walked among us as a beacon of faith, compassion and unwavering dedication.

Bishop Austen Crapp OFM
Bishop Austen Crapp OFM

He was not merely a priest and bishop but a pillar of strength, a source of wisdom and a shining example of hope for all who crossed his path.

Heartfelt condolences to the Franciscan family in PNG and Australia, to his own family in Australia and especially to the clergy and laity of our Franciscan Diocese.

Let us honour his legacy by continuing the work he had started and left - to love one another, to serve our community with humility and compassion, and to live our lives guided by faith and integrity.

Farewell champ.  Safe journey home.


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Paul Saroya | Sissano Nimas (Wipom)

I last met Bishop Austin Grap with Robert Parer in 2000 when we witnessed the opening of Wipom Nimas-Kobe Memorial Primary School in Sissano.

This was during the tsunami rehabilitation program.

At this time a double classroom was named after Robert Parer and the Catholic church building was named St Austin after the Bishop.

My family, the Sissano Nimas community and myself pass our deepest sorrow and condolences to the family, friends and the Franciscan family in PNG and Australia.

May his soul rest in eternal peace.

Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin

The late Bishop Austen even had a Sepik accent and was a true-blue Papua New Guinean.

As seminarians, we looked forward to his sermons whenever he came around and was the main celebrant during mass.

We have lost a Grand Chief.

May his soul rest in peace.

Garrett Roche

Bishop Austen was an army chaplain before he was made bishop. As army chaplain he worked in Wewak and in Port Moresby.

I met him many times at meetings when he was a bishop. He had a great sense of humour.

After the tsunami struck near Sissano in 1998 he was very much involved in helping with the response to that disaster. May he rest in peace.

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