Over the past few weeks, the people have expressed their gratitude and thanks to their shepherd Archbishop Panfilo.
During his years as archbishop he has travelled the length and breadth of the diocese, waded through fast flowing streams, climbed steep mountains and sailed rough waters to reach his flock in the remote parts of the diocese.
He was with his people to celebrate the sacraments with them, listen to their struggles and respond to their pains both spiritual and material. Over the last few weeks he celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation in several parishes and ordained men to the priesthood.
Amidst expressions of gratitude at Vunapope, were tears of appreciation for the much-loved shepherd for the past ten years. Token of thanks were expressed in the form of shell money and customary gifts of pigs and food.
Archbishop Panfilo took as his theme: ‘Duc in altum’ – an ‘invitation to remember the past with gratitude, live the present with enthusiasm and look forward to the future with confidence’.
“Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of the Archdiocese of Rabaul was a time for all the laity, consecrated persons, and clergy to assess our fervor and find fresh enthusiasm for our spiritual and pastoral responsibilities”, said Archbishop Panfilo.
He encouraged his flock to strive for Holiness, give importance to Prayer, to the Sunday Eucharist and to listen and proclaim the Word of God.
Vocations were his priority as he guided and supported several to the priesthood or religious life.
On the 27thSeptember he ordained three priests namely; Fr Vincent Ngamanga, Fr Henry Matlavn and Fr Joseph Maglsos and two deacons, Patrick Taroro and Clarence Hamut. It was an emotional occasion as he celebrated his last Ordination as the Archbishop of Rabaul.
An issue dear to his heart was that of Land. In his last Pastoral Letter dated 8th September, he appealed to everyone to put personal interests aside and think of the common good reminding them to leave behind in good shape the gifts received.
“It should bring people together, instead it is tearing people apart because of greed and pride. The Church has the duty to help people consider themselves as stewards of the land rather than the owners of the land. We must help people to work together cooperatively and in harmony,” wrote the Archbishop.
Archbishop Panfilo has spent his life as a missionary ready to serve the flock he was entrusted with.
His missionary journey began in the Philippines where he spent 32 years of his life. He has spent 23 years in Papua New Guinea, 19 as a Bishop, 9 in Alotau and 10 in the Archdiocese of Rabaul.