PNG pioneer on last journey

10 December 2013 | General Interest

Sr M. Rose really wanted to be a missionary in China.  She never realised that dream, and never forgave the communists for taking it from her!  However, she became a missionary in Papua New Guinea and spent close to five decades there in the Aitape Diocese in the West Sepik Province. Her life was remarkable in many ways.

Prior to leaving for PNG Sr M Rose was sent to do intensive courses in general nursing and midwifery at the Mater and Royal Brisbane hospitals. Accounts of her life show that she used this knowledge over many years for the people among whom she worked.  Her first appointment was to Sissano, a coastal village to the west of Aitape.  There she delivered many babies, some on the beach during the night as the surf pounded only meters away.. 

Sr M Rose had a particular rapport with the women.  She taught them how to care for babies and often travelled by outrigger canoe to hold clinics in the small isolated villages that had no permanent hospital or health clinic. She also taught basic sewing skills and catechetics.  Teaching in primary school was another of Sr M Rose's contributions to PNG, and after independence she turned her attention to pastoral ministry as well.

At her funeral she was remembered as being kind and gentle, determined, faith-filled, humble, and family oriented.  She was also rembered as a deeply spiritual woman.  Fr Stephen Bliss ofm noted that she died in the same week as Nelson Mandela, and that both were prophetic individuals whose lives helped shape a better world.  May she rest in peace.