Legion of Mary (Mainland PNG)

05/05/2000 11:29

(In 1924, Fr Hoersch prepared a group of eager young women to join the Legion of Mary, a new Marian movement that began recently in Ireland. But this caused opposition among the men who believed that those girls who joined the Legion would not be allowed to marry. So the Legion had to wait until 25 years later when the people were ready for it.)

One of the first lay religious movements to start in the dioceses after the war was the Legion of Mary. Both Highlands pioneers Father Alfons Schaefer and Father William Ross were devotees of the Blessed Virgin and by the mid-1950s had already organised Marian processions with the Fatima statue. This was all connected with the Legion of Mary movement began at the initiative of Bishop Adolph Noser, SVD, of Madang.
At the personal request of Bishop Noser, newly arrived from Ghana, Mr. Charles Kenny was appointed in late 1954 by the Legion of Mary headquarters in Australia to come to PNG as an extension officer and work full time at setting up the Legion units.
The first praesidium or core group began at Alexishafen among the station workers. It spilled over to Rempi, thanks to pastor Father Reinhold Stefanski, SVD. By 1955, Alexishafen had a curia comprising praesidia from Rempi, Halopa, Talidig, Mugil, Megiar and Rivo. Mr. Bill Morgan (later SVD Brother) was the curia president.
In the Sepik area, Bishop Leo Arkfeld, SVD, himself a Legion of Mary member since his seminary days, delegated dynamic Father Jacob Blaes to develop the Legion in the Wewak area. Alois Kabaru on Kariru Island and Petrus Siaguru in Wewak were some of the pioneer members. Father Pat Hallinan on loan from the Maitland Diocese in Australia also brought great knowledge and experience to the Wewak Legion. Father Blaes painstakingly translated the official Legion Handbook into Tok Pisin.
According to Fr John Feeley, the Legion in Madang sagged for a while when the Charismatic Movement began, but was revived in 1982 after Bishop Arkfeld transferred from Wewak. He asked Fr Ernest Golly to finalise the Tok Pisin translation of the Legion Handbook. Today Madang is the centre of all Legion activities in the country.
Since the late 1970s Father Golly has been the Legion's national director. He has published several dozen pamphlets on Marian devotion.
The Legion has settled down into a standard parochial movement with young and adult members.