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Marian Valley chapel may hasten path to canonisation for Blessed Peter To Rot

Looking ahead: Carmelite Father Paul Sireh (right) hopes the opening of a Blessed Peter To Rot chapel at Marian Valley, Canungra, recently could help speed up Blessed Peter’s canonisation. Fr Sireh is pictured at the blessing of the chapel with Brisbane Auxiliary Bishop Ken Howell (left) and PNG Cardinal John Ribat. Photo: Alan Edgecomb

PAPUA New Guinean priest Carmelite Father Paul Sireh hopes the first chapel built in honour of Blessed Peter To Rot outside of PNG could speed up his canonisation process.

Fr Sireh, the chaplain to the PNG Catholic community in Australia, said a new chapel for Blessed Peter To Rot at Marian Valley was an important step in promoting his cause for canonisation.

He said this was the first chapel outside of PNG dedicated to the blessed martyr. It houses a large hand-carved wooden statue of Blessed Peter To Rot.

“And so the more we promote him, the more people will have a devotion to him,” Fr Sireh said.

“A lot of Australians don’t really know about him, and so having the chapel dedicated to him here in Australia means there will be a lot of pilgrimages taking place.”

Fr Sireh said Blessed Peter To Rot was a model for marriage, youth, family and catechists.

“He is important because he was a lay catechist, a very down-to-earth family man, and that is like our Church today; it is pretty much a laity Church,” he said.

“He’s a model of the Church for us.”

Blessed Peter To Rot is the first Papua New Guinean raised to beatification, made possible by the decree of St John Paul II who named the martyr blessed on January 17, 1995.

“I want you to remember Peter To Rot always,” the Pope said in his homily at the beatification. 

“He shows the way to all of us, but especially to the families here in Papua New Guinea and to the youth and to all those men and women who preach the Word of God to the people.”

In order to be canonised a saint, the Church requires one miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Peter To Rot.

Fr Sireh said the community prayed that Blessed Peter To Rot would perform miracles in people’s lives, especially the miracle of faith.

Fr Sireh said the Mass to celebrate Blessed Peter To Rot’s feast day at Marian Valley on January 19 united the entire nation of PNG, which consisted of 834 cultures and languages and four different regions. Peter To Rot’s feast day is celebrated on July 7. 

The PNG Catholic community will host a Mass and pilgrimage to his chapel every year around his beatification anniversary date.

Fr Sireh said the community was still in the process of painting the ceiling of the chapel, which would show various cultural images specific to PNG, including the “Tabu”, the Tolai word for shell money, and a Bird of Paradise.

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