Most Rev John Ribat, Most Rev. Rochus Tatamai, distinguished guests, Rectors and Faculty of CTI, Fathers, Brothers, Sisters, graduating students and their families and friends, students and friends of CTI,
I especially acknowledge today the Graduating students of 2012. This is a very special day for you, for your families, your friends and, indeed, for all of us who have been part of your academic progress to this point.
This year and next brings us to a period of anniversaries. 2012, in particular, has been a significant anniversary year for the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. Fifty years ago, in 1962 De Boismenu Seminary came into existence, and so on October 6th this year the MSCs commemorated its Golden Jubilee. The occasion was marked by the celebration of Mass, followed by lunch and cultural presentations. Bishop Taval, a past student of De Boismenus College, as it is now called, was the main celebrant, and amongst the dignitaries present was the Superior General of the MSC’s Very Rev. Fr. Mark McDonald and the Deputy Prime Minister of PNG, the Rt Hon. Leo Dion. Congratulations from all of us go to Fr Ben Fleming, the present Rector of the College, and to his MSC confreres for their contribution, first to Holy Spirit Seminary, and since 1999, to Catholic Theological Institute.
Holy Spirit Seminary began its Golden Jubilee celebrations this year which will conclude next year for on March 1st 1963 Holy Spirit Seminary came into existence at Kap, near Madang, staffed by the Society of the Divine Word. In 1968 it moved to Bomana, and De Boismenu Seminary affiliated to it. 1st March 2013 therefore will be a significant date for Fr Peter Artiken, Rector of Holy Spirit Seminary, and its staff and seminarians. It will also be a significant day for the Society of the Divine Word under whose auspices Holy Spirit Seminary came into existence. These are the celebrations of the two foundational entities from which CTI came to be in 1999 and thus are therefore profoundly significant for Catholic Theological Institute itself.
2012 has also been notable for the completion of two new buildings on campus. The Capuchin Friars have transformed their old friary into a fine building and the Dominicans have added a wing to their present college. My congratulations to the rectors of the two colleges: Fr Jonathan Williams and Fr Martin Wallace.
This year we farewell three lecturers, Frs Justin Eke, Ben Madden and Tom McDonough: I Thank Fr Justin for his contribution to CTI over the past 4 years. Fr Justin will undertake post graduate studies in Rome in the near future. Fr Ben Madden returns early next year to the United States, having spent over 50 years in PNG, including a number of years lecturing at CTI. Fr Tom McDonough leaves us at the end of this academic year as has been elected provincial of the Australian province of the Passionists. We congratulate him on his election and wish him well in his new role. We hope to see him from time to time when he comes to PNG on visitation. Today we also farewell Fr Kiade Rayalu, Rector of Marist College. I thank him for his contribution to CTI over the past 3 years and wish him well in his new appointment that will take him to New Caledonia.
CTI has enjoyed a long association with the Anglican Church in PNG and it is a great pleasure for me to witness today two of our Anglican brothers graduating with the Diploma in Religious Studies, Fr George Kasme and Fr Luscomb Bera. Congratulations to you both.
On a sad note I mention the recent deaths of two past students of CTI, Fr Toma’ Akino Lakai SM from Tonga and Mr Chris Ulena from Buka. They died in the same car accident on Buka just a few days ago. We prayed for them at our Eucharist this morning and I offer my condolences to Fr Kiade and the Marist community. May Toma and Chris rest in peace.
On a happier note, I would like to thank the following for their contributions to CTI this year: the Governing Council, the Rectors Board, the Faculty Board, the Academic Dean, Fr Zenon Szablowinski, the outgoing SRC executive and, last but not least, the ancillary staff. Amongst the ancillary staff I want to single out, Mrs Dulcie Siriman who is retiring after working for ten years at CTI. Our thanks to Dulcie for her long years of service to CTI in administration. We wish her every blessing and success in her future endeavors.
Finally, dear graduating students, may the diplomas and degrees you receive today be a reminder to you of your preparedness to contribute generously to both the life of the Church and the wider community in the coming years.
I now wish everyone a fruitful end of year break and a peaceful Christmas. Thank you very much.
Fr David Willis OP.
[President, Catholic Theological Institute]