Volume 28 No. 2 | Winter 2018 8 Society Matters www.divineword.org.au A Newsletter of the Divine Word Missionaries Inc - Australia Province Donations to the SVDAUS Province Overseas Aid Fund can be made online at www.divineword.org.au or by mailing to Divine Word Missionary Appeal Office, Locked Bag 3, Epping NSW, 1710, Australia. svdaus @svdaus Visit by PNG Provincial honours long-standing ties between provinces The SVD Australian and PNG provinces have strong ties and friendship going back decades, so there was a warm welcome indeed for PNG Provincial, Fr Jozef Maciolek SVD when he arrived in Sydney to take part in the recent AUS Provincial Assembly and Chapter. “In the ongoing relationship between our provinces, I value the support we give each other,” Fr Jozef says. “Over the years, we have had many medical emergencies where people have had to be taken from PNG to Australia and the confreres in the Australian Province help us in so many ways. “Similarly, we were able to help host the OTP seminarians from Vietnam as part of their time in the AUS Province. “Some confreres from PNG visit the Australian Province regularly for various reasons and are always welcomed and supported by our confreres and the staff. It gives us in PNG the feeling that we belong together to the greater project of the people of God.” Fr Jozef was born and raised in Szamocin, a small town about 80km north of the city of Poznan in Poland. He joined the SVD in September 1974 in Pieniezno in the north east of Poland where the Polish Province has its major seminary, taking his first vows in September 1976 and his final vows on September 8, 1980. “I arrived in PNG on November 11, 1982,” he says. “I travelled to PNG from Rome via Australia, and spent two weeks in Marsfield prior to my arrival in PNG, so it makes 36 years since my arrival here. “But I was in the Philippines with the PNG novices from 1996-1999, so it makes it 32 years I’ve actually been in PNG.” Fr Jozef is now in his fifth year as PNG Provincial. He says the recent AUS Assembly and Chapter highlighted a number of points of similarity, but also some differences with the mission in PNG. “During the Assembly, I was in a discussion group in which confreres were saying that when working in a parish they sometimes feel as if they are diocesan priests,” he says. “In PNG, on the north coast and in the highlands, SVD confreres established the church and the whole church structure was initially made up only of SVD confreres, so naturally, some confreres were extremely loyal to the dioceses and felt as if they were working as diocesan priests too, so I could relate to that issue.” He says that among the challenges currently being faced by the Divine Word Missionaries in PNG are a shortage of personnel. “This raises the question of how to serve the people we formed into parish communities and who wish to be looked after by SVD priests when we have so few confreres available,” Fr Jozef says. “In the 1980s, the PNG Province had 257 confreres in final vows. Today it has 97. “Pastoral care for the people in the remote areas is one of our priorities. We hope and pray that the local diocesan priests will take over from us.” Fr Jozef says that during the AUS Assembly he was enriched by Fr John Prior SVD’s vision for missionary life in a global context and by the “very human approach” of The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse presented by Br David Leary OFM. “It’s also good to see so many lay people being involved and working alongside our SVD confreres in the Australian Province. In this regard we in PNG are lagging behind, but we are heading there also.” Fr Jozef Maciolek SVD, front row, third from left, caught up with some confreres from the AUS Province, many of whom have previously worked in PNG.