Greetings from Papua New Guinea! The Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará in Spanish is “Servidoras del Senor y la Virgen de Matará” and it is from here that we get our international nickname “Servidoras”. PNG regularly refers to itself as Paradise and is home to the birds of Paradise, hence “Servidoras in Paradise”.
We, the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará, are an institute of Catholic religious sisters. We are missionaries that go to the ends of the earth to bring the Good News of Christ to all people. Currently, we are in over 37 countries throughout the world. Because our specific charism is to “evangelize the culture,” we work concretely in order to bring Christ in families, education, mass media, parishes, and in all other spheres of life. We work within all aspects of human culture and society especially with those most in need.
In Papua New Guinea, our sisters have two communities in Vanimo, in the West Sepik and Sandaun Province of Papua New Guinea. We have been working in this diocese for over 17 years. The daily life of the people in PNG can be described as a matter of survival. Our province in PNG is one of the most remote areas where education and evangelization have proven very difficult. Thus, it remains a culture where education is either undervalued or unavailable and where the Gospel values of respect for life and human dignity, especially that of women and children, have not yet been taken root. One of our communities runs the Lujan Home for girls, while our community works at the Diocesan Pastoral Center in a variety of apostolates.
St Paul’s Pastoral Center: Since our arrival to PNG in 2002, we have been helping at the Pastoral Center, and now one of our sisters is in charge of this apostolate within the Diocese. This work is focused primarily on spreading the faith through formation programs for prayer leaders and catechists. We organize 6-week long programs throughout the year, where leaders receive guidance in various aspects of Church Doctrine, liturgy, prayer, and leadership.
Holy Trinity Primary School: One of our sisters is working in the parish run Holy Trinity Primary School improving the quality of education. She does this by providing a well programmed and organized education specifically helping the teachers in areas of difficulty, as well as providing additional coaching for the week students. Through this ministry we work towards the overall development of the students to recognize their dignity and rights and to discover their personal skills and talents. This bears prime importance since Papua New Guinea is a country where children and women are not respected.
Queen of Paradise Orchestra: Two of the sisters are involved in a music program at the primary school. The people of Papua New Guinea have a natural ear for music. However, often none of them receives any formal training and education in music. Our music program teaches them to read music, to sing in a 4-part choir and to learn more instruments. Until a year ago, no one in Vanimo had ever seen a violin. Now, there are 14 violinists. This year we are adding more violins, violas, cello, and a double bass to the ensemble. Next year we intend to add some wind or brass instruments. The goal of this project is not only to teach music, but also to develop the virtues of discipline, responsibility, order, and perseverance.
Parish Apostolates: On Sundays, we help in a nearby village at St. Therese Parish (Lido Village) with pastoral apostolate. We take communion to the sick, help prepare for the liturgy, prepare parishioners for the sacraments, and work with the youth. In addition, we help in the outskirts of the Holy Trinity Parish with the Legion of Mary ministry, forming young girls with various activities.
Formation of candidates for religious life: We are promoting religious vocation among the youth. There have been inquiries from girls showing interest in following religious life. We provide these girls spiritual, intellectual and psychological formation and ample time and atmosphere to discern their vocation. We have presently three postulants and a few showing interest in religious life.
Lujan Home for Girls: Lujan Home for Girls was opened in 2009 to protect girls from forced marriage, sexual abuse, neglect and issues related to sorcery and black magic. It also helps girls and women with serious health conditions that the family cannot afford. Many of these beneficiaries are either orphans or have lost one of the parents putting them at a greater risk of abuse in their own homes. We try to provide safe and loving environment where the girls can learn the value of human dignity. Our mission is to provide a well-balanced Christian development. In this way, we support them to grow to their full maturity as Catholic women in all aspects.
Like any other country in the world, Covid19 has also affected Papua New Guinea. There have been about 503 cases of infection and five deaths. By the grace of God, there has not been any cases in Vanimo. The girls from the Lujan Home are back to school with the necessary precautions.
Sisters Servants of the Lord in Papua New Guinea