We have twelve regular members. Most of them live and work in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea. One works in a government educational institution, two in private sector companies, and the rest are in self-employed businesses and trades for their living. Professionally we have a lawyer, economist, teachers, psychologist, communications engineer, and almost all are engaged with parish and church ministries and apostolates. All are PNG citizens except one who is originally from the Philippines.
Since we started the lay Associates in 2009 the MSI Sisters began inducting us in the MSI charism and spirituality. The image of the “sower and the seed” has been the catch phrase for many of us, as we settled into understanding the missionary charism in our individual callings of lay life, profession, marriage, family, work, and community.
It has been quiet a journey. Over time we developed relationships with each other and with the MSI Sisters. We gradually understood and made meaning to our own lives and the calling for service and evangelization among our families and communities. We learned about the MSI family within PNG and the world through the sessions we had with the Sisters at the Boroko Convent.
Charism is a spiritual gift one recognizes in oneself with the help of the Holy Spirit and embraces service to God and neighbour. The mission is the act of being sent out of oneself to the other person, people, or community. Missionary charism, therefore, is basically about sharing one’s gifts, talents, knowledge, skills, experience and life with others and for others.
How does one recognize one’s charism? First, charism has the presence of passion. Passion is the desire, urge, interest, and love which is usually propelled by God’s Spirit, where one finds himself or herself enjoy doing what he or she does, with love and joy, most times without complaining or tiring. It usually comes with one’s gifts and talents. Such gifts or talents can be associated with one’s training and experience in a particular trade or profession. In some cases training, experience, trade or profession is not concerned at all. It is simply the passion and joy one has to serve in a particular ministry or apostolate such as in spiritual or corporal works of mercy or charity. Surely any training will help to enhance the passion for service. We find many of these examples in our lay Associates.
Missionary charism entails the passion of service for others within one’s family, work place, or the community. While we may not have gone out in group programmes and activities to hospitals, schools, prisons, or squatter peripheries, there is a sense of awareness and recognition that our ongoing individual members’ own commitments to the callings of family life, professional work commitments, social justice, refugees, parish pastoral ministries, or charity apostolates are in themselves the living testimonies of the missionary charism.
We share a few examples of the missionary charism of our lay Associates in Port Moresby. Mrs. Barbara Warbua and her husband Daniel have four children and two grandchildren. They own a kindergarten school for little children aged two to six years old. Added to her family responsibilities, she has been coordinating the Blessed Peter ToRot Basic Christian Community (BCC) of the St Joseph’s Parish in the Archdiocese of Port Moresby for 10 years. She is also the BCC Coordinator of the parish, as well as a communion minister. She is a member of the Divine Mercy Devotion group. Her leadership in coordinating works of mercy and charity with the BCC group in hospital and prison visits, parish liturgy, as well as other parish programmes and events, has been of much strength, vigour, creativity, and passion. She has been serving her family, parish, and community ministries and apostolates with much love and joy.
We have Mrs. Helen Harricknen who is a teacher by profession. She is married to Paul and they have four children and five grandchildren. Helen has a Bachelor and Masters degree in Education. She has served in Secondary schools as a teacher, school department head, and deputy principal. Currently, she operates a private school of her own in Port Moresby known as Lahara Avenue School. In the Church she serves as a board member of the Right Relationships in Ministry of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands; a coordinator of Passionists Companions, and is an active member of the St Joseph’s parish. She is also a member of the Catholic Professionals Society of PNG. She loves her job as a teacher especially in building young people with a better early start to life. She developed Christian Living as a major component of the school curriculum where morals and basic understandings of God and relationships are taught emphasizing integral and holistic development of a child from the early stage. Staff members of the school are also encouraged to bring God into their family and professional lives through regular devotions, sharing, and from the lessons they teach. The school offers classes for the sacraments of Baptism, Reconciliation Eucharist, and Confirmation. The school has been supporting street children programme run by the Archdiocese in cash or kind.
Eric Kumasan is a psychologist by profession. He works as the Human Resources Manager in a major group of companies in PNG. He is married to Albina and they have two children and one grandchild. Eric is an ex-seminarian from the major seminary in Port Moresby. He combines his seminary formation and training to participate fully in his family, work, and community. He is an active member of St Charles Lwanga Parish in Port Moresby and coordinates the prison ministry from the parish. Their group makes regular visits to the main Bomana prison in Port Moresby where they join the prisoners in sharing the word of God, sharing meals together, and celebrating Eucharist from time to time. Eric is also a key member of their BCC group in the parish and they are actively involved with liturgy during Masses. Eric is also a member of the Catholic Professionals Society of PNG, an association of non-ordained professionals involved with the promotion of Catholic faith in the spiritual and temporal aspects within PNG.
Our lay Associates President, Mr. Kila Ai, is a convert from the United Church and was the chairman of the St Joseph’s Parish Pastoral Council. He is the current chairman of the Archdiocese Pastoral Council and is also an Executive member of the Catholic Professionals Society of PNG.
Many of our lay Associates serve in their various professions, ministries, and apostolates with a commitment to keep the Catholic faith alive, giving hope and inspiration to many in the communities we serve. We see ourselves growing as the seed in our own faith journeys, and as sowers in our professions, ministries, and apostolates. As sowers we sow wherever we can, leaving the result in God’s loving hands.
Perhaps in future, the lay Associates will develop group programmes and events considering the many other existing programmes of the parish and Diocese, which the Associates are already participating in. In the meanwhile, the MSI charism already adds to the passion for mission. The scheduled meetings with the MSI Sisters and the formation sessions are invaluable to this end.
Paul Harricknen, MSI Lay Associates, Port Moresby, PNG