Written by Sherry
Thursday, 10 July 2008 22:07
More stories of the Church universal:
Monday was the feast to Peter to Rot, martyr catechist of Papua New Gunea nad one of the patrons of WYD.
I had the privilege of telling Peter's story in at our Called & Gifted workshops in Indonesia. He was the son of the first generation of Catholics in his area and began his work as a catechists at 21, after three years of study.
These were years of intense work to organize catechesis in the village, to gather large and small groups for instruction and prayer and to become acquainted with people's real life situations. All those who had him as their catechist recall his straightforward, immediate and effective teaching. He referred constantly to the Bible and always carried it with him (rare for Catholics of the time!), quoting it directly as the occasion required. He was particularly sensitive in discovering the inner problems in others' lives and shared them intimately.
In a scenario that has been repeated throughout the Church's history,
The decisive turning point in Peter To Rot's life and mission occurred in 1942. After the Japanese occupation, all the missionaries and mission staff were imprisoned in a concentration camp. The Servant of God remained alone. During the war he was the only spiritual guide for Catholics in the Rakunai district. With his constant presence, he provided prayer services, catechetical instruction, the administration of Baptism, the preservation and distribution of the Eucharist to the sick and the dying, and assistance to the poor. On the outskirts of Rakunai, he built a church for the Catholic community from branches, the only material available. The main church had been destroyed by the Japanese.
The Japanese decided to forbid Christian worship and all types of religious gatherings, public and private. Subsequently, the repression became more violent. The Japanese, seeking to force the local chieftains into collaborating with them, decided that the Tolais should return to their previous practice of polygamy. This was a severe blow after almost half a century of missionary work. Peter firmly opposed this and was not afraid to disagree publicly with his brother Joseph.
The Servant of God was arrested in April or May 1945. According to accounts, his questioning by the official Meshida was a farce as well as an expression of the crudest violence. He was sentenced to two months' imprisonment. Later, referring to his imprisonment, Peter said: "I am here because of those who broke their marriage vows and because of those who do not want the growth of God's kingdom".
Peter To Rot died a martyr at the hands of the Japanese army by lethal injection and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1995 - the same year he beatified Australia's Blessed Mary of the Cross MacKillop.
The first twenty WYD pilgrims - ever - from Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands are being sponsored by the Australian Dominican Province. The heirs of Peter To Rot.