Thursday, September 2, 2010

The New Guinea Martyrs

Just to the north of Australia is Papua New Guinea, one of the great battlegrounds of World War II. The Anglican Church in PNG has had a proud history which includes heroism, faith and martyrdom. Catholic and evangelical at the same time, as well as firmly embedded in local culture, she remembers today those who gave their lives for Jesus and his people.

Anglican missionaries first arrived on the north coast of eastern New Guinea, near Dogura, on August 10, 1891. Teaching and medical missions were gradually established along the north coast and in the inland mountain villages.

Following the Japanese invasion of the north coast in March 1942, some 333 church workers of all denominations died for their faith. Of these, twelve were associated with the Anglican Missions, coming mostly from around Popondetta - at the villages of Gona, Sangara and Isivita.

The village of Sangara is slightly to the north of Kokoda, another New Guinea village that features prominently in the Australian history of the war because of the sacrifices made by both Australians and Papuans on the track between Port Moresby and Kokoda - their opposition to the Japanese advance at that time probably averted the direct invasion of Northern Australia.

The ten Anglican Martyrs recognized in 1946 were:-

Henry Matthews, priest, and
Leslie Gariadi, his Papuan assistant;

Henry Holland, priest from Isivita;
John Duffill, builder/carpenter from Isivita;

Vivian Redlich, priest from Sangara;
Sister Margery Brenchley, nurse from Sangara;
Lilla Lashmar, teacher from Sangara;
Lucian Tapiedi, Papuan teacher/evangelist from Sangara;

Sister May Hayman, nurse from Gona, fiancée of Fr Vivian Redlich;
Mavis Parkinson, teacher from Gona.

The two priests from the New Guinea Islands (Diocese of Melanesia until 1949), were:-

John Barge, priest;
Bernard Moore, priest.

These two, who were killed in the New Guinea Islands, were added to the list of Anglican Martyrs from New Guinea in 1949 and 1992, respectively.

Fr Matthews and his assistant Leslie Gariadi were killed when the boat they were on was sunk between Port Moresby and Daru and the survivors machine-gunned. Lucian Tapiedi was axed to death by a collaborator from his own people when he stood up for the Missionaries from Sangara and Isivita whom he was accompanying. The five Lucian was with were beheaded shortly afterwards on Buna Beach. The two Gona missionary sisters were bayonetted to death at Jegarata, near Popondetta. All these deaths occurred around or during August, 1942. Bishop Strong later proclaimed September the 2nd as the Feast for the Commemoration of the New Guinea Martyrs.

by Bishop Philip Strong (Bishop of New Guinea from 1936 to 1962)

O Almighty God,
who didst enable thy missionary and Papuan martyrs, in New Guinea,
in a day of sore trial and danger,
to be faithful to their calling and to glorify thee by their deaths:
Grant we humbly beseech thee
that, by the witness of these thy martyrs,
thy whole Church may be enriched and strengthened
for the gathering into thy fold of thy children in all lands;
and that we thy servants,
following the example of their steadfastness and courage,
may labour the more fervently for the coming of thy kingdom,
and may so faithfully serve thee here on earth
that we may be joined with them hereafter in heaven.
Through thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord,
who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost,
ever one God, world without end. Amen.


For Canon Maynard's 1942 sermon on the New Guinea Martyrs go HERE.

For Bishop Strong's 1981 sermon, containing his personal reminiscences, go HERE.


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