He was described as a devoted Catholic Christian who was faithful to his faith and practiced it by attending mass regularly.
Catholic priest, Fr. Michael Watae, a close friend and spiritual mentor from Wewak Diocese, made this statement before leading the opening prayer during the greater Sepik haus krai.
“I’ve come to the realisation that papa Tunga was very, very faithful to mama Lady Veronica. His faithfulness to this one woman in his life made him become a very, very powerful moral compass for the nation.
“So I would like us as a nation to pay homage especially also in our moments of sadness and sorrow to mama Veronica, because without her, I don’t think papa would have been the great person whom we have honoured and mourned throughout the last two weeks,” Fr. Michael said.
His life of faithfulness was also commended by the main celebrant of the funeral service on Friday 12th March, Sir John Cardinal Ribat, Archbishop of Port Moresby.
“I just want to share with you on the 20th of last month, his family contacted me and said he was asking that I go and visit him,” Sir John said.
“He told me that this afternoon I will be discharged and I will go home and tomorrow I will go and celebrate the Holy Eucharist at St. Joseph Catholic Church, because that is where he normally goes to worship. So that is how he lived his life until the end.”
Grand Chief’s daughter, Dulciana Somare Brash, shared similar sentiments during the funeral service.
“In the last 10 years when he was confronted with the most public opposition he had ever faced in his entire political career and his personal life, he handled it with the grace and patience of a saint.
“I watched my father, the grand chief, pick up all the obvious risk to this country at this time and the risk to his people before he worried about what was happening to him personally. For the record, my father was illegally removed from his seat as the legitimate Prime Minister but he cared less about revenge or retaliation when the options were at his fingertips.”
Late Sir Michael fits the description of a worthy leader as described in the book of 1 Tim 3:2-4, which includes “being blameless, husband of one wife, temperate, sober minded and one who rules his own house well and having his children in submission with all reverence”.
(Sir John Cardinal Ribat, Archbishop of Port Moresby, conducting the funeral service for late Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare on Friday, March 12th)