More than 200 students from four villages on Lihir Island in Namatanai, New Ireland Province, were confirmed into the Catholic Church on Sunday, October 5, 2014.
Catholic bishop of Kavieng Diocese Bishop Ambrose Kiapseni officiated in the sacrament of confirmation, attended by hundreds of people including the parents and guardians of the children, friends and relatives from the villages of Lakuplien, Kinami, Palie and Matzuz.
According to Catholic teachings, confirmation builds on the sacraments of baptism, penance and Holy Communion, completing the process of initiation into the Catholic community.
Addressing the 278 young men and women during mass at the St Clement Catholic Church on Sunday, Bishop Kiapseni said “you are like grapevines. It is up to you to nurture grapes that will be sweet in your mouth”.
“If you do not do what is right now, then the grapes you grow will be sour and will not find their roots in our communities.”
Bishop Kiapseni, who is also from Lihir, reminded the students that many local young men and women today no longer respect their parents and the elderly in their communities.
“Obtaining an education in Lihir has become a normal part of life. Children nowadays do not take learning seriously.
“Many see mining as their way of life and a means to an income. This new technology has changed people’s lives, social structures and relationships.
Bishop Kiapseni also warned about the use of mobile phones, emphasizing that many problems in PNG today could be attributed to the wrong use of this telecommunication gadget.
“Everywhere you look now, every child attending school is fiddling around with a mobile phone. I doubt if there is any concentration in school at all, and not to mention discipline.”
As is the traditional Catholic practice, Bishop Kiapseni was attired in red vestments and sat in front of the altar, flanked by Palie parish priest Father Steven Bokai and his assistant Father Hillary Kapei and two deacons.
Each student was ushered forward and knelt before the bishop with their sponsors and were consecrated into the faith.
Normal church service followed with the communion and the final prayers and songs.
Those confirmed later gathered outside the church grounds where they were met and congratulated by their family members, relatives, friends and peers.
Bishop Kiapseni also reminded the students that their confirmation had given them the courage to practice their Catholic faith with the focus on the Holy Spirit.
Traditionally, the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude (courage), knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.