Annual Report 2004

Registered Number A0010312L


We have audited the summarised financial report of Melbourne Overseas Missions Fund Inc. for the financial year ended 30 November 2004 in accordance with Australian Auditing Standards.

The summarised financial report is derived from the Association’s annual statutory financial report.

Continue reading “Annual Report 2004”

Ten days after the Tsunami

Everything in the room swayed and moved in different directions for about five minutes. This was our experience of the Tsunami that struck on 26th December 2004. Among the people were one month old babies and young mothers. They did not want to be separated from their families and refused to come into town where we could have given them better care. The crowd did not want to leave the Sisters either, even though the Government offered them their schools. They felt more secure with us.

Sr. Teresa with two Superiors of Karaikal and I went down the coast. We visited a good number of villages, talking to the victims. Some had lost as many as seven members of their families, many of them children or mothers who were trying to save their little ones. The men who were fishing elsewhere were saved. The wave came up so silently that people were hardly aware of the black water that engulfed them, churned them around and took them kilometers forward and then dragged them into the sea. The next wave brought them back on to the land dead or seriously injured. Some had the good fortune of clinging on to a tree or something else that turned out to be their lifeline. We went looking for orphans and found that mostly children had died.

In Nagappattinam, it was horrifying to see huge boats and ships sitting on verandahs, or even on roof tops. These boats can cost between one to 15 lakhs. The different types of nets for various fish cost about one lakh each. Those who have lost all cannot start life again without boats and equipment. Bodies are pinned under debris and the air smells foul. People are huddled together away from the coast.

We went on to Velangani, it was deserted. On 26th, the people had left the church after the Tamil Mass and gone down to the beach. Others entered for the Malayalam Mass. The first wave mixed the people with sheets of roofing, cutting them up. Photos of the dead look terrible and not all are exposed yet – many people are there for those who are searching for their loved ones. The water went up to the Church steps and then divided. Those who were in its way or ran out of the Church were swept out. They found more than 2000 bodies. Even after ten days, they found some bodies that had to be cremated because they were too highly decomposed. The brick shops in front of the church stand silent and empty. Nothing remains of all those on the shore. The water level has risen and there is no beach. We met a priest, an eyewitness who gave us gruesome details. We visited the Diocesan home for the aged – an absolute mess. It reminded me of Cheyur. They were able to save most of the inmates.

This evening there was a meeting with the Social Welfare Board, from Pondicherry. We will take in all the orphans below 10. At least they will be safe with us. We will also accept old people. The Sisters are doing their best to co-operate in the Relief work.

Sr. Bernadette Pinto
Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny

*Note : 1 Lakh =100,000 Rupees = Au$3027.32

Santos the Woodcarver

Dave Tacon

This article and photograph have been reproduced with
permission from Dave Tacon and Wood Carving magazine (UK).

santos and one of his wood carvingDave Tacon tells of a remarkable young man who, despite the odds, has set himself up with a woodcarving business in Sierra Leone.

Born into a large family of peasant farmers in Sierra Leone’s Northern Province, Santos is a shy, softly-spoken young man in his early 20s. More than half of Santos’ life has been spent in the midst of one of the last century’s most brutal civil wars, which shuddered to a halt in 2002.

When he was in his teens, Santos had his right hand sadistically amputated by dissident soldiers who appeared in his isolated jungle village. At gunpoint, they hacked off his hand and the hand of his younger cousin with a rusty machete before locking them inside a thatched hut. There they set fire to it and left their victims to burn while they moved on to the next village. It was 1998.

At this time amputations were one of the brutal trademarks of the Sierra Leonean war. Whilst the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF), was responsible for the majority of atrocities, amputations were practiced by all warring factions. This, along with the abduction of children to jungle bases where they were brutalised, forcibly drugged and trained to maim and kill, is one of the horrors that put Sierra Leone on the international map.
DeterrentSantos – taking a break

During 1996, the RUF infamously launched “Operation Stop Elections” where amputation became the most terrorising deterrent against civil society, casting votes in multiparty elections. The democratic ally-elected government was soon ousted by a force known as the Armed Forced Revolutionary Council (AFRC) in a military coup. These dissident soldiers formed an alliance with the RUF. When the AFRC was in turn forcibly removed from office by a force of Nigerian-led “peacekeepers” from the Economic Community of West African States, many former government soldiers went bush and joined the rebels.

Santos fell victim to these rebel soldiers who became known as ‘sobels’. These ‘sobels’ may have wanted to punish Santos’ community for its tacit support of forces loyal to the country’s democratic ally-elected government. In a community that struggles to survive by subsistence agriculture, the act of cutting off one’s limbs is tantamount to cutting off the future livelihood of a peasant farmer and his family.

Miraculously, Santos escaped from the burning hut and, like many thousands of other civilian casualties of the conflict, ended up as a refugee in Freetown, the nation’s capital. Here he sought shelter in the Freetown Amputee Camp. Yet Santos’ handicap led him to discover a talent previously unknown to him.

Outside the Freetown Amputee Camp, he was noticed carving stone miniatures, left-handed, by nuns from the Cluny Sisters Catholic Mission. They helped him to learn further by organising an apprenticeship with a local woodcarver. Through money earned selling his sculptures to foreign nationals and while working with other amputees in the garden of the Sisters’ mission, Santos gradually earned enough to commission local blacksmiths to forge tools for him. He was also able to rent a shed of corrugated iron, which he now uses as a workshop.

Santos’ story is one of countless others in a country where untold thousands of civilians suffered the brunt of one of the previous century’s most devastating civil conflicts.

This war crippled the small West African nation and, according to the UN, relegated it to the place of the World’s poorest. Santos continues to hone his craft and make a living in the trying conditions of Freetown.

Boxes to Port Moreseby

In September 2004, 32 boxes of clothing, books, magazines and computer equipment were transported to Papua New Guinea. Sent to help the underprivileged.

FR. James Joseph Morova Holy Spirit Seminary serves the Kerema Diocese, which covers 12 parishes. So far, five locals have been ordained to the priesthood. Another is to be ordained next year. Paul Gabriel, from Kanabea Parish is a seminarian of the Holy Spirit, whose father, Gabriel Anamada, has been working as a catechist for the past 32 years. Paul is the second of the Kamea people to join the major seminary. He will be ordained in three years time. Fr. James Joseph Morova (pictured) was ordained in May 2003.

Annual Report 2003


DETAILS 1/12/02-30/11/03 1/12/01-30/11/02
$ $
Donations 178,688 159,608
Interest 5,306 5,477
Bequests 15,000 9,102
Bomana Donations 35,000 1,000
Botswana Donations 6,062 4,716
Order of St Lazarus Donations 10,180
Bema Donations 1,480
Sierra Leone Donations 1,200
Sundries 5
TOTAL INCOME 252,916 179,908
PNG BEMA including Sr Ursula Nihill 1,180 26,634
PNG Kanabea 72,200 59,595
Botswana 6,000 5,000
PNG Boroko Sponsorship of Student Education 10,000
PNG Boroko- Canossian Sisters 500
PNG Cluny Sisters- Projects and Brigidine Teacher Funds (5,790) 11,300
St Pauls School for the Blind Overseas Aid 59,000 48,000
East Timor Salesians 500
PNG-Waigani- Holy Spirit Seminary_Bomana 27,119 9,608
Community Education 6,823 800
Order of St Lazarus Appeal 10,200
Christian Brothers Foundation 5,000
Columban Fathers- Peru 10,000
Cluny Sisters-Sierra Leone 10,000
TOTAL DIRECT GRANTS 196,732 176,937
Lay Missionary Support Training (Gambia and Boama PNG) 10,242 3,548
Postage/Photocopying/Telephone 2,072 1,656
Printing and Stationery 15 288
Appeal Publicity 7,048 8,917
Credit Card Costs 958 745
Depreciation 831 877
Computer supplies and other costs 6,009 5,723
Conference and travel expenses 1,599 122
ACFOA Membership 1,436 1,844
Sundries 483 272
Audit Fees 1,000 1,000
TOTAL EXPENDITURE 228,425 201,929
TOTAL 252,916 179,908


30/11/03 30/11/02
$ $
Funds on hand at 1 December 2,164 24,185
add excess of income over expenditure 24,491
less excess expenditure over income (22,021)
Balancing Item (see Supplementary Statement for details) 5,531
TOTAL 32,186 2,164
Represented by:
Catholic Development Fund 21,641 93,842
CDF Kanabea Mission Account 5,531 0
Computer Equipment 17,431 16,518
less provisions for deprecation (16,033) (15,202)
Prepayments 3,462 6,328
Sundry debtors 154 678
Sundry creditors (100,000)
TOTAL 32,186 2,164


$ $
16/05/03 Anon 7,531 25/06/03 MOM 2,000
30/11/03 Bal c/d 5,531
TOTAL 7,531 TOTAL 7,531
01/12/03 Bal b/f 5,531


$ $
Donations Recieved 240,141 165,324
Legacies and Bequests 15,000 9,102
Payments to Suppliers and Employees (328,214) (101,819)
Investmnet Income 5,306 5,477
Other Income 2,011 5
Net cash provided by operating activities (65,756) 78,089
Fixed Asset Purchases (914) (1,114)
Proceeds on sale of fixed assets
Net cash provided (used by investing activities) (914) (1,114)
Repayment of borrowings
Net cash used in financing activities
Net increase in cash held (66,670) 76,975
Cash at the beginning of the financial year 93,842 16,867
Cash at the end of the financial year 27,172 93,842


DETAILS 1/12/02-30/11/03 1/12/01-30/11/02
$ $
Donations 178,688 159,608
Bomana Donations 35,000 1,000
Botswana Donations 6,062 4,716
Order of St Lazarus Donations 10,180 0
Bema Donations 1,480 0
Sierra Leone Donations 1,200 0
Kanabea Mission Fund 7,531
TOTAL 240,141 165,324
Non-Monetary Donations 518,400 643,680
TOTAL DONATIONS 758,541 809,004


$ $ $ $
As per Annual Report 93,842 262,458 329,128 27,172

2003 2002
Donations and Gifts – Monetary and non- monetary (1) 758,541 809,004
Legacies and Bequests 15,000 9,102
Investment Income 5,306 5,477
Other Income 0 5
TOTAL REVENUE 778,847 823,588
Overseas Projects
* Funds to Overseas Projects (1) 710,309 819,817
* Other Project Costs 10,242 3,548
Domestic Projects
Community Education 6,823 4,620
Fundraising Costs
* Public 7,048 5,098
* Government and Multilaterals
Administration 14,403 12,527
Excess of Revenue over Disbursements (shortfall) 30,022 (22,022)
Funds available for future use at beginning of financial year 2,164 24,185
Amounts transferred to reserves 32,186 2,163
Cash 27,172 93,842
Property, plant and equipment 17,431 16,518
Other 3,616 7,006
TOTAL ASSETS 48,219 117,366
Creditors and borrowings 0 100,000
Provision for deprecation 16,033 15,202
TOTAL LIABILITIES 16,033 115,202
Net Assets 32,186 2,164
Funds available for future use 32,186 2,164
TOTAL EQUITY 32,186 2,164

Note 1: During the financial year 2002-2003, the St. Paul Overseas Aid Fund (OAF) Committee packed and forwarded to 92 Mission Stations a total of 600 boxes (745 in 01/02) and each weighing an average of 16K and valued overall at $518,400 ($643,680 in 01/02).

Melbourne Overseas Missions Fund Inc. Assisted St Paul’s Overseas Aid Fund in meeting the large freight cost on these boxes by contributing $59,000 ($48,000 in 01/02). Any extra freight costs were borne by St Paul’s OAF from their own resources. Items contained in the boxes consisted of urgently required medical supplies such as wound dressings and bandages, soap, sheets, blankets and clothing.

Greetings from Gambia

Rina Sacco sends us an email about her current situation in Gambia

Hello Everyone!!

Greeting from The Gambia! I am writing a general email this time to try to catch up on all my news for you all! I am having a wonderful time and am meeting so many beautiful people. Everyone here is so polite, friendly and welcoming….absolutely everyone – men, women and children!!! I am keeping extremely busy – there is definitely lots of work for me to do here which is terrific because that is what I am here for.

I must apologise for my lack of communication to date because it we have not had any electricity any night since I have been here barr three nights. During the day we have tried to work with generator power but this has been very unreliable also…they thought it might improve after the elections but this is yet to be seen. I have decided that if any fundraising can be done in australia then the first thing to help them with their work here would be to buy and install a new generator. I have never gone to bed as early as I have done here and then I have been getting up very early in the morning…my whole routine has changed. I have a ceiling fan in my room which is a luxury but I cannot use it if there is no power…the nights are very difficult to sleep with the heat but I should not complain because at least I have running water!!! Most people have to get up early and walk to a town well to fill their buckets and then take them back to their family homes. I see them every morning queued up and I feel guil ty that I was cursing that morning because I had to wash my hair in COLD water!!! Yes, I have become accustomed to the cold showers every day….it is not as bad as you think especially with this hot and humid weather!!! I know that I am very lucky being able to live and work in the compound because I have some basic luxuries that most of the gambians can only dream of!!

I am working and living on the G.P.I. compound which is the premises of the Gambian Pastoral Institute. The only other people who live here are the Director, Sr. Philomena Barry and Sr, Calixte who teachers at one of the schools in Kanifing nearly. There is alo a Gambian lady who is affectionately known as Auntie Chris who is the matron of the place and does all the cooking for us and the student groups who come to use the premises for retreats and workshops etc. My official title at the Institute is The Adult Education Coordinator. The other main departments are The Communications department. the RE departments, publications dept and hospitality dept. We are all busy preparing for a week long celebration of the Silver Jubilee of GPI – 25 years of existance in the Gambia. It is a big thing and is taking up lots of time – I have had to do lots of research to prepare for the exhibition, have had to prepare an Historical document of the institute, have interviewed all the employees who work here and have done s taff profiles on them. I have virtually had to motivate all the staff to get moving as time does not seem imiportant to them…Sr. Philomena – The Director was panicking but the staff have been terrific and working great as a team. It was my idea to do the staff profiles and this was great for me because I have really got to know everyone on a different level and took all their photos etc for the souvenier newsletter which is being prepared ( it is actually a brochure but it is taking the place of their monthly newsletter. Have had to do a lot of computer inservice with the secretary to help her use the computer and teach her publisher to produce the monthly newsletter in future without so much drama. This newsletter is sold all around the country and is a big communication tool to spread the good news and all that is happening in the christian community.

Even though the Gambia is 90 per cent muslim I have not felt this at all. I have been totally surrounded by christians as I work amongst them and I have never seen so many people with such a devote faith ever in australia. Even in all their poverty and hardship they still find time to pray and worship God. I love their singing and total commitment. It has really inspired me and helps to explain why they are such lovely people. The inter-racial conflict that you hear about all around the world between muslims and christians is definitely not the case here. There is total respect for each other and they work harmoniously together. Even with what is happening everywhere else it is not here – it so peaceful and I admire the way they respect and work together. We know a little about the usa and afganistan issue but because there is only one tv programme we do not hear much about it. Only through radio broadcasting etc and newspapers but they do not devote much to world news especially since we have just had the e lections. Everyone was very worried about these because the lead up was a little violent as on the night before a man was shot and another minister politician had his house burnt down. However, despite this they had the most peaceful elections ever…Jammeh got elected again and everyone seems happy about it because he introduced tv here three years ago, he has started to improve the roads, computers were introduced two years ago and he is working on the health system etc so in a short time has done more than the previous president who was in for 30 years. I must say that the one and only tv station is absolutely appalling tv viewing.

It is just like watching the worst ever home movie that you have seen….well is actually just a whole lot of people who contribute home films made and put together….the only thing I have watched is the news which is so bad…they only ever talk about the rest of the world for two minutes. Then on sunday they have a programme called The Day of the Lord….we have been on it a few times…this is where the communications dept have videoed a mass or church feast day and then it is viewed on sunday which is the limited time that christians have been given to television. I have been invited to go on a tv panel on the 26 October to discuss the Silver jubilee and I have been trying desperately to get out of it because i am camera shy and do not want to go on national television. GPI’s communication department are really aiming to set up their own radio and tv station in the future to add to the one and only one available at the moment. It would be great but I do not see this happening soon. The Silver Jubilee is on 5 Nov to 9 Nov and the Bishop Michael J Cleary has invited all GPI supporters and many others to come along and we have a big Thanksgiving Mass celebration and then a big formal dinner. an open day, a documentary about the work of GPI, planting of a tree, symposium on youth, marriage/family and parish work then finish off with a big fundraising concert. This is all extra to our daily work and jobs. I don’t know when I will be able to start on my adult RE programmes.

As well as the above I held my first teacher’s workshop at St Therese’s Upper Basic Secondary college with 55 teachers on the second saturday that I had arrived. The topic was on Teachers’ Role and expectations and Student’s rights and r esponsiblities and teaching strategies. The first weekend that I was here I met an english girl and her husband who were visiting the city and usually live up country in a village called Bulok. Back in England she was involved in health eduation and had been doing a little bit of teaching in the village. Sr. Calixte roped me into doing this workshop and I invited my friend Theresa to join me….it was terrific…we made a great team and people did not believe that we just met a week before. It went so well that the principal of the school invited us back to do another workshop with the prefects of the school on leadership. Word also spread around and the principal of St. Catherines’ school has asked me to go to do a workshop with her teaching staff also.

So besides GPI work, teachers workshops I have also been attending meetings at the Education Secretariat and Bishop’s office where I have been asked if I could run computer inservices for all the staff on an individual one-to-one basis. This will be interesting because they are all at different levels and there are about 60 of them in total including all the staff at GPI who are lined up for computer classes. I don’t think that I have enough hours in the day to do all this but I will do all that I can.

I am then supposed to be going up country soon to visit all the villages and see the way the true gambians live in their simple life and try to contribute in their schools there. but at the moment there is so much to do in the city here I am not sure when I will get there. I have not even done my orientation course yet but Sr. Phil says that I have settled into life here so well that I probably won’t need it!!!

I have not yet seem many native animals…just a few monkeys and heaps of geckos and these huge monitor lizards which are like fat goannas. We have loads of them on the compound and they are about four froot long and have fat stumpy feet and a long tail…they are definitely not attractive and I have had a few run ins with them and I hope and pray at night when there is no power that I am not going to get out of bed and step on one…I think that I would have a heart attack!!!

Sr.Phil and Sr. Calixte and Auntie Chris are lovely and have really made me feel welcome. I share a meal with them once a day and we always try to spend some time together like going for a walk along the beach or just sitting and sharing our stories. I get up at 5.00 am every morning and go to mass with Sr. phil and Sr. Calixte in town at 6.30 am and then return to start work at 8.00 am. It is good to get up early because it is cooler and you get more work done. I am gradually getting used to the heat…it gets easier every day….they tell me that it gets better and cooler in Dec when the dry season begins. I will believe it when I see it.

I must apologise for this long letter…but I have so much to tell you that I do not know where begin but I think that it is enough for today. I hope that you and your families are all well and happy. I think of you all often and wonder what you are all doing…please write often to tell me what you have all been doing. I have been away for a month and have still not received even one snail mail letter…it is so depressing….that is why I wanted to get my email up and running!! I cannot thank my dear friend Bernadette and Tech rentals enough for helping me by donating this laptop…it is the only way of communication for me at the moment with my family and friends. Thank you Bernie and Ashley!!!

Even though Mum and Dad want me to call and reverse charges this is not possible. I cannot make a collect call from the gambia to oz…and since I do not get paid a telephone call is a real luxury as it is so expense to call and would take up all my living allowance. It is quite frustrating and the mail here is appalling but please do not stop writing ….I will get it eventually even if it comes all at once!!!

Hope to hear from you all soon! Will try to reply individual emails soon! Miss you all and thinking of you! Take care and don’t worry about me because I am in a safe place and with good people who are taking good care of me!! God knew what he was doing when he brought me here!! I know that I am helping these people and this gives me a great sense of satisfaction…helping others by using the gifts that I take for granted that he has given me. I have been doing a lot of personal reflection and I really value and cherish what I have at home we just do not know or realise how lucky we are!!! I will not go into that now but in my next update I will share some other thoughts and observations with you.

God bless!!

love and hugs to you all

Rina xxxooooxxxx

PS Have not told you about my best friend Rory who is my constant companion and true protector…he is the compound dog and he is gorgeous…the best temperament ever…we have fallen in love with each other…he follows me everywhere and sleeps in my office all day!! He is terrific!

Supporting East Timor

A letter from East Timor

Comunidade Edmund Rice or CER as we call it is an initiative of the Christian Brothers to offer an opportunity for Brothers and volunteers from Australia to express their solidarity with the people of East Timor by living and working at this critical time of their history.

If you were to visit East Timor, you would quickly notice that rural communities are experiencing greater underdevelopment than Dili. Inadequate water supply hinders health, hygiene and agriculture. Overcrowding in what is already poor housing is another change the people want. Lack of transport makes it a real struggle for these rural communities to get anything to the markets. Their isolation is worsened by having no electricity and limited access to radio and newspapers and of course there is no television.

Hence our ministry of community development has come to be focussed on five isolated rural villages in the District of Ermera. The 4200 people in them almost totally live a life of subsistence. Only a few people such as teachers receive a wage while most have to grow what they eat and supplement this with a little income from a small crop of coffee.

The funding provided by Melbourne Overseas Mission has allowed CER to commence responding to some of these needs. The generous grant of $25 000 is channelling $12 000 to projects about Food Security (agriculture, animal husbandry and aquaculutre), $6 000 for Community Well-being (health and water) and $7 000 for Community Education (peace, literacy and carpentry).

CER is working with the people to improve their food security. A substantial part of the funding is going to the development of cooperatives that will increase production of crops and livestock. Mr Andrew Sexton, a volunteer from Sydney, has conducted workshops and training for over 50 people across these villages. He primarily works through four local East Timorese men who are being employed as agricultural extensionists to animate and inform the communities about these cooperatives. Small amounts of money are being given to each cooperative to obtain the necessary materials and supplies to get started. Two particularly popular responses are to make small dams for fish farming and coops for raising chickens.

We are giving a lot of emphasis to peace building amongst the people across all villages. Over forty members have been sponsored to attend week long workshops on peace. The training there helps participants to consider alternative ways of resolving conflict without resorting to violence, something well learnt from the oppressive regimes the people have experienced in the past. Over 90 people attended a peace workshop in their villages and now with an employed peace worker, the village peace animators are assisted to continue and develop these initiatives amongst the people.

The health clinic that CER initiated is now functioning with funding from other sources. However, a medical student from Sydney, Tim Gray, is developing 3 day health workshops for the 50 health animators in the villages. Carol Hobson, a nurse from Brisbane is coming for a month to assist in these workshops and be involved in other ways in the village communities. A young East Timorese woman, Sonia Ferreira, is also assisting in a variety of ways: preparing the material in Tetun to conduct the course in this local language, presenting some of the material as well as continuing her main role as office manager. We have been able to send her to Brisbane for training in English, computing and finance. Building the capacity of East Timorese co-workers and village people is a high priority for us.

Carpenters in three villages have been assisted to build furniture and to refurbish some housing along side ex-patriate workers. In time we hope a workshop will be established to train the younger adults in woodwork.

Another major endeavour in this area of community education are the literacy courses in Tetun and English language courses that the people are very enthusiastic to attend. Sr Rita Hayes, a Good Samaritan Sister from Victoria, is the project coordinator for both these programmes. She is ably assisted by a PALMS volunteer, Barry Hinton, from Rockhampton. In time we hope to do other adult education such as civic education, an important matter in a country learning to live in a democratic way with its new found freedom. Much also needs to be achieved in economic development particularly through micro credit schemes. For this we are seeking an East Timorese worker and further funding.

We have also been asked by the people to assist them in improving the well-being of the community through a sanitation project, to improve their housing ( usually made of strips of bamboo with a grass roof and this is cold in mid year so fires are lit inside), to assist the women to teach the girls sewing and other crafts. The youth have also asked us to help them with English, sport, music and with their scout movement. This also requires more funding, something we are seeking from a variety of sources.

As we move to live in the villages this month, we are trying to find funding to obtain another 4WD and an off road motorcycle, ones that will stay up in the mountains while the 4WD we already have will continue to bring supplies and transport volunteers and paid workers to and from Dili. As we and the village people have no system of emergency communication to Dili we urgently need to obtain four Codan Transceivers to link the vehicles and houses.

The list could go on but the important thing is that the funding from the Melbourne Overseas Mission has given us a great start and for this all of us in CER are most grateful.

Br Dan Courtney

A few days in a Bomana Seminary

Rev. Michael McEntee talks about a few days in Bomana.

It’s a cool overcast day here for Easter, but the Lord is as truly risen as anywhere else. We began our Vigil liturgy at 2.45 a.m. finished at 6, had coffee, then some breakfast and have just finished the 8:30 Mass about 10.

The seminary has settled into a routine of study, prayer, pastoral work and relaxation. The students are working well in keeping the grounds attractive and will develop a vegetable garden during the two weeks’ term break which begins next Saturday. Our problems with the “raskols” seems to have dropped off since two policeman came to live at the Franciscan college next door to us. That temporary arrangement will be followed by the construction of four family homes to house four policemen and their families. Their movements to and fro and the fact they will be armed should rid us of the raskol intrusion swhich have dominated the first six weeks of term. Our own college was hit only once when my office – right beneath my bedroom – was ransacked one night at 2.30 a.m. There are currently calls from several quarters as well as politicians and the women’s movement for the death sentence to be introduced. The Archbishop went on TV on Good Friday to say that the Church would not support capital punishment. He called on people to Find the political will to improve education and employment opportunities. I hope that he gets a hearing.

Many of the students will have a week’s holiday in several coastal villages along the Gulf of Papua. I will spend the time preparing classes for next term. As well as teaching four hours each week here, I will fly twice to the Highlands for three days each time to teach in the seminary there. They have 100 students in the first three years of the course (we have only 13 in those classes), after which they come here for the last three years. They are chronically short of teaching staff, so I will present my course in half the usual number of lectures and the Rector there will tutor them while I come back to do my regular teaching here.

Easter celebrations were inspiring and eye-opening. On Good Friday the Veneration of the Cross was done in traditional manner of mourning. As well as some genuflecting and making some sign of affection and respect much as we do in Australia, four big regional groups, decked out in mud and mourning finery, came to the cross, surrounded it as if it were a coffin, and rendered most soulful chants of mourning. This morning, we had the Easter Vigil from 2.45 to 6 a.m, literally walking out of the chapel to see the first rays of the rising sun. I was the presider. It was all in Pidgin – 31 pages of text. It was also my first attempt at preaching in Pidgin, which I managed OK with some help from my priest confrere. About half the homily was my own composition and half was a good story about forgiveness which I found in a book of Pidgin English. There was a spectacular lighting of the fire as we climbed a small hill outside the chapel where a bonfire had been prepared. Higher up the hill a crew had coconut husks ali ght with diesel which they launched on a flying fox into the kerosene soaked bonfire. From there it was one surprise after another. We were piped half a kilometer by the Solomon Islanders bamboo pipe band, the Gospel book was brought in by placard waving Highlanders dressed in traditional feathers and grass skirts, the readings from the Genesis about the creation and from Exodus about the Crossing of the Red Sea were dramatised by students taking the role of an elder of the tribe telling the story of the ancestors etc. There was a very humorous and very cogent retelling of the biblical stories. We had three adults to be baptised. The font was prepared by three regional representatives coming with traditional water-carrying instruments – large diameter bamboo and an excavated coconut husk wrapped in leaves. Finally, at the Words of consecration, we were met by fire eaters from new Britain who “incensed” the Host and Precious Blood with the smoke they were exhaling!

Thursday 4 May: Exam week passed, I received some good answers to my exam questions. Getting 40 people off by 3 tonne truck for a holiday at 5 a.m. last Saturday was interesting. Next Monday, we are going off shore to a research island for a picnic. It is good to have a relaxed timetable for a couple of weeks, later rising, not as much organised time, I think we are all unwinding after a full term. Twice we have received news of the death of a close relative – a sister while giving birth to twin boys, a father – and in both instances the students involved had snuck off without telling me their whereabouts! Talk about tragedy and bad luck rolled into one. I’m always taken aback at the number of students whose parents died when they were infants or at primary school age, and by the few whose mothers died giving them birth. It makes those comparisons of different nations’ mortality rates take on a human face. One of the experienced missionaries said to me that the people live close to earth and they will quickl y sniff out whether or not someone is genuine.

We have been joined by a priest from Belligen NSW to teach moral theology. He is not living here as he is on the staff of the Theological Institute. He is good company and seems to be coping with the transition quite well. Our lay missionary is still struggling with the different culture, but that is not deterring him from making a big contribution. I just hope he can accept the differences.

So it’s time to close. I’ll get this emailed and posted in the next few days. Thanks for all your communications. They are looked forward to by me.

Rev M McEntee

A visit to Kanabea Mission

St Bernadette Gauthier gives us word on the latest activities at Kamea.

Kanabea parish was, as usual, a hive of activity. On the 18th Fr. Maurice Adams was remembered at the Eucharist. On the 19th the silver Jubilee of the latest arrival Sr. Dorothy David was celebrated both privately and publicly with a beautiful Eucharist and shared meal. It was an opportunity to speak about Religious life and the Cluny Sisters in particular, which Fr. John invited me to do.

The saw mill is functioning well. Workers are being paid local wages, but all timber (very good timber apparently) is donated by land owners for both the church and the school. This is very significant, a sign that the missionaries patient invitations to participate are bearing fruit. Fr. John was particularly patient over this need to wait for the people to really own the church and school as theirs.

The School ‘reform’ is proceeding with difficulties. Kanabea ‘top up’ has taken scores of youngsters who have missed out doing grade six. This year, however, these were declared illegal and were suspended which led to much heartache and even an attempted suicide. The top up books arrived only this year. (i.e. Grades 7 and 9 attached to a primary school). The government set up only 4 elementary schools (grades 1-3) in the parish which left scores of villages without teachers, the intention being to set up new ones in 2003. The Bishop moved and set up 19 Bible schools in Kanabea Parish alone, so that all Christian communities have their own, led by Grade ten leavers. Many of these came through Bema High School and then the CODE centre. St. Tresa takes a special interest in the ‘teachers.’ The teachers receive a modest Diocesan stipend, and to all intents and purposes these schools serve as elementary schools. Their name saves them from being illegal. A brother of Fr. David Kamau, Martin, has been named inspect or of these elementary schools, a good move, as in isolated places, children are completely at the mercy of their teachers conscience. Another good teacher has been named inspector of mountain schools, and this is already bearing fruit. He is trying to remedy the fact that some quite large areas have been without teachers for a number of years.

There are now 67 catechists and prayer leaders over the mountain parishes, 30 of these in Kanabea parish. Fr. John supervises them and gives them in-services. As in many activities, the Kamina parish is also included, otherwise the whole fabric of that parish would have collapsed.

The sisters have convened a women’s gathering for this weekend and are expecting 300. They remained undaunted; undertaking all manner of activities on the station and radiating out to the most remote villages, including of course the Kamina, Ivandu and M’Bauia areas. A systematic training of five women per village in the skills of cutting and sewing has been undertaken; they stay one week, several hours per day. Modest projects have been started; nutrition, chickens screen printing, helping in the hospital. Sr. Rachel continues the family life program throughout the Diocese in spite of many difficulties, distances, transport and the fact that often only women come.

Anne Fogarty, a lay missionary from Melbourne, has taken part in all these activities and acts as a secretary to everybody. She has so settled her soul into Kanabea that she has requested staying another six months. She lives with the sisters and relates really well to the national staff, the people and expatriates.

Fr. John Flynn and David Kamau patrol extensively, the latter comes from Hawabango and patrols all through Kanabea. He recently gave the Catechists’ retreat. On going formation still takes place; e.g. A course to village recorders whose task is to map their village and record deaths births etc.

Bishop Marx is planning some pilgrimages to Bema for the year of Jubilee; the logistics of accommodation and the possibility of two thousand Kamea attending, is providing somewhat of a challenge.

My visit to Kanabea was inspirational, the harmonious relations between expatriates among themselves and with nationals, the level of apostolic energy and inventiveness, the prayer life, would, I believe be very contagious to anyone who truly opened themselves to it.

Sr Bernadette Gauthier