Hiri District


Hiri district known as “Hiri Fraternity” is situated in the National Capital District of Port Moresby. The first permanent SVD presence in the district began in February 1968 when Holy Spirit Regional Seminary was moved from Kap near Madang to Bomana. The staff had been completely SVD. The first rector of the seminary and professor of Dogmatic Theology and Ecumenism was Fr. Pat Murphy, SVD. Over the years there has almost always been at least one SVD on the major seminary staff. The first parish involvement in Port Moresby was at Saraga (Six Mile) under Fr. Vincent Theobald, SVD in 1975 till 1979.

Since the 1970s various SVDs have done specialized work in Port Moresby. Fr. Paul McVinny was National Education Secretary for the Catholic Bishops Conference. Fr. Pat Murphy was ecumenical coordinator for the Christian Churches. Fathers Frank Mihalic , James Franks, Kevin Walcot, Vincent Ohlinger, Brother David Noonan and Richard Chambers had been working with Word Publishing.

In 1979 the present Divine Word College was built on the major seminary campus and used as formation house for our SVD seminarians. The building was blessed on the feast of St Michael, September 29th 1980 by Fr General Henry Heekeren, SVD. The first group of 4 SVD seminarians moved into the new building with Fr. Jim Knight, SVD as their rector. Divine Word College was extended and blessed by Fr. General Henry Barlage at the beginning of 2000.

In 1987 the SVDs were asked to take over St Peter Chanel parish in Erima. Fr Francis Vega, SVD was pastor from 1987 to 1992. He also was the initiator of the Good Friday procession from Erima to the Cathedral in Down Town. The tradition is cultivated until the present time.

Around 1977 the SVD Guest House at Six Mile was established with Fr. Mike Hughes in charge who spent most of his time at the airport picking people up and bringing them back, organizing their travel formalities and passports. In 1986 Br. Fridolin Schlierenzauer continued this important ministry until his death in 2000. Then it was Br Anthony Hollenstein who from 2001 to 2011 tirelessly served not only SVDs but also many others who needed help. The SVD Guest House was moved from 6 Mile to 5 Mile (Gordons) in 1993. Br. Raj Kullu, is now involved in the hospitality ministry at the SVD House at 5 Mile.

The first officially elected and approved District Superior of the Hiri Fraternity was Fr. James Uravil in 1993.

We also have special ministries based in the Hiri district such as at Word Publishing and the ministry to TV and Radio, particularly “Voice of ToRot.”

After the Roman visitation by Abp G. Pell, the Holy Spirit Seminary was divided into two institutions: academic (CTI) and spiritual (Diocesan College). This happened in 1999. SVDs have always been on the CTI staff.

Until 2003 the parish at Erima was the only parish in the Archdiocese of Port Moresby that was run by SVDs. A number of SVD members worked there successively: Fr Francis Vega, Fr John Ryan and Fr Paul Liwun. Fr Marsianus Bei is the present parish priest. In 2003 Archbishop John Ribat MSC gave the parish of Kuriva to our care. The first SVD parish priest there was Fr Marsianus Bei accompanied by Br Rudi van Lier. The following pastors at Kuriva were: Fr Alex Garuai and Fr Michael Donovan. Fr Justinus Nenat. The third parish offered to us was the parish at Hanuabada. Fr. Paul Liwun after his 10 years service at the parish of Erima, accepted a new challenge to be the Parish Priest at Hanuabada. He started in 2010.

The main challenge and contribution of the District to the local church is the formation of local SVD missionaries and the education of the local clergy. The parish ministry and special apostolates provide additional important contribution to the task.

It is said that people begin to settle in new area only when they bury their dead there. We SVDs have buried two of our confreres at Bomana communal cemetery; Fr Pat Murphy after his fatal motor bike accident in 1978 and Fr. James Franks in 1992 when both of his lungs collapsed after a biopsy at the hospital.