IN the highlands of Papua New Guinea, some tribesmen and their families walked for a week to attend a Mass marking the end of the Year of Mercy.
They were some of the 5000-strong congregation to pack Mt Hagen’s new cathedral – the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity – even though the building is not yet completed.
Mt Hagen Archbishop Douglas Young said the Year of Mercy had a profound impact on parishioners.
“There was a greater sense of God’s mercy, stronger devotional life, and some new activities in parish and diocese, including a new centre for vulnerable children,” he said.
Archbishop Young, who hails from Brisbane and has steered the Mt Hagen archdiocese for the past decade, said the Mass was an opportunity to test the capacity of the cathedral and mechanics of conducting liturgy in the space.
He said the new cathedral was designed for 1500 “comfortably”.
“Uncomfortably we got 5000,” Archbishop Young said.
“The crowd was made up of all the priests of the archdiocese and pilgrims who had walked in from every corner of the archdiocese.
“The architect, contractor and project manager were also present to observe the logistics.”
Archbishop Young said the cathedral was a suitable venue for the celebration of major diocesan liturgies, a celebration of the mission of the Church in the PNG highlands over the past 80 years, and, like any cathedral, the church for all the people of the archdiocese.
“The cathedral will also house the Church’s radio station, Trinity FM, so that such events can be broadcast throughout the diocese and possibly the highlands,” he said.
Fundraising for the new cathedral started in 2014.
Tenders came in at more than $6 million, although the archdiocese aimed to reduce overall costs by acting as the builder.
“Some of the funds come from savings of my predecessors for this purpose, local and overseas fundraising, Pontifical Mission Society, local leaders including provincial governors and the Prime Minister,” Archbishop Young said.
He said inspiration for building the Mt Hagen cathedral came from Psalm 27: “One thing I ask of the Lord, for this I long, to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to savour the sweetness of the Lord, to behold his temple.”
Donations are still needed, and can be made to Catholic Mission of the Holy Trinity account, CBA Epping, 06 2166 00901051.