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Leader of largest missionary congregation says multicultural parishes will change the world during Brisbane visit

Divine Word Missionaries visit

Pastoral visit: Divine Word Missionaries superior general Fr Heinz Kuluke (centre) with Kingston-Marsden missionaries Fr Bang Van Nguyen and Fr Sunil Paul Nagothu at St Maximilian Kolbe Parish, Marsden. Photo: Emilie Ng

BRISBANE’S two parishes run by the Divine Word Missionaries hold the key to attaining world peace, the congregation’s superior general Fr Heinz Kuluke says.

The leader for six years of the Society of the Divine Word, the world’s largest missionary congregation, said the intercultural make-up of the Inala and Kingston-Marsden parishes where his missionaries worked “would change the world”.

“I think that’s the future of our parishes worldwide, that we come together as people from different cultures, different languages, different races,” Fr Kuluke said.

“While people fight each other because they do come from different lives and different cultures, we try to live together.

“That’s happening in Brisbane.”

The German-born priest who worked to eliminate human trafficking of men, women and children in the Philippines for 30 years was in Brisbane for the first time as superior general last week visiting his four missionaries in the archdiocese.

During his brief visit, Fr Kuluke spent time with the communities in Inala and Kingston-Marsden, presiding at weekend Masses for both parishes.

In Inala he also blessed the new presbytery for the residing priests, both Divine Word Missionaries, an event that left him deeply touched.

“I was touched to see such a house going up, being built by the people,” Fr Kuluke said.

“They want the missionaries to feel at home so they put up a nice residence so whatever comes and happens in the future the missionaries will feel at home.”

While Fr Kuluke’s headquarters are in Rome, part of his role is to visit his congregation’s missionaries and encounter the people they work with.

“We are really called to go out to the people, not to be missionaries in an office but to be close to the people,” Fr Kuluke said.

“Pope Francis has a nice formula, a saying that he borrowed from the Church Fathers, the missionaries, the priests and brothers need to have the smell of the sheep.

“That is why I am here.”

Fr Heinz Kuluke

Inspired visit: Divine Word Missionary superior general Fr Heinz Kuluke. Photo: Emilie Ng.

There are 6000 priests and brothers from the congregation worldwide, and Australia is considered one of their smaller missions with only 40 to 50 active priests and brothers nationwide and just four in Brisbane.

Fr Kuluke said parishes operated by Divine Word Missionaries were not simply called to be leaders but to “animate others to do exactly the same”.

He gave the example of a parish in South America where lay community members had self-identified as Divine Word Missionaries.

“Once a week they dedicate a visit that’s reaching out transforming the world; they visit the prisoners, retirement homes, or do community service,” Fr Kuluke said.

“It will transform the world if everybody does a little.”

While in Australia Fr Kuluke also visited Melbourne, central Australia, Sydney and then New Zealand, and spoke with Darwin Bishop Eugene Hurley via teleconference.

“The main message (to the missionaries) is very simple – be close to the people, journey with the people, and then share your faith; the people will share their faith with you,” Fr Kuluke said.

“(If) you care for the people, the people will care for you; you love the people, the people will love you.

“It’s very simple.”

Fr Heinz Kuluke with Kingston-Marsden parishioners

Blessed: Parishioners from the Kingston-Marsden parish with special guest visitor, Fr Heinz Kuluke. Photo: Emilie Ng.

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