The Missionary Cycle Continues
In the middle of September, 2011, Father Leon Weisenberger, MSC returned to the USA from Papua New Guinea (PNG). Thus ended 65 years of ministry by American Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in the developing country of PNG.
In 1946, after the Second World War, we sent a team of six young priests to begin the process of rebuilding the local Church of PNG. It was a daunting task, especially in the early years. There were no buildings, no roads, no vehicles. But the missionaries were young, filled with the love of the Sacred Heart, and ready to tackle any challenge.
Over the years and with the help of generous benefactors, the missionaries built churches, schools, clinics, hospitals. After walking miles and miles through jungle and bush, they helped build roads and even runways for small planes. They developed a communication system by short-wave radio. They learned the language and instructed people in the faith. Eventually they translated the liturgy and the Bible into the local languages. They trained local catechists to help spread the Good News of salvation.
Those were exciting times when missionaries could see the Lord at work in their efforts. But there was also a price to pay, a cross to carry, just as Christ had told his disciples. All our missionaries contracted malaria; many suffered from tropical diseases and returned home with a variety of illnesses. One died when a tractor rolled over him; another lost an arm in a vehicle accident. Still, they continued to preach the Gospel and to minister Christ's presence to the people.
And they worked themselves out of a job. Like the Apostle Paul, who established churches and then moved on, the MSC accomplished their mission by setting up the church and placing it in the hands of the local clergy and people. Priests, Brothers and Sisters, born and raised in the islands of PNG, have now taken over the mission of Christ in that church. Missionaries of the Sacred Heart now have a full complement of local members to continue sharing the love of Christ. They in turn have begun sending missionaries to other countries. And so the missionary cycle continues.
Seventeen of the American MSC who ministered in PNG over the past 65 years have died and gone on to their eternal reward. The other 19 are mostly active in the USA church, although a few are too elderly and ill to continue in active ministry. One of our responsibilities as a community is to care for these men who gave their lives to Christ and made a difference in the world.
We hope you enjoy the stories of these men who spent themselves in the service of the Kingdom and we invite you to share in the missionary work of the Church by helping us care for them.
Thank you and God bless you,
Fr. Ray Diesbourg, MSC
MSC USA Province
Want to help us care for the missionaries who have dedicated their lives to spreading the love of the Sacred Heart in Papua New Guinea, Colombia, and the USA? Please consider making a donation using the PayPal button below.