A Labour of Love

Dec 1, 2022

In 2020 Bishop Keith Joseph invited the Melanesian Brotherhood to establish a household at Thursday Island in the Torres Strait. Initially there were four Brothers. One has returned to the Solomon Islands where he now serves as Head Brother. Another Brother has been released after lengthy service to the Melanesian Brotherhood but continues to minister in the Diocese of North Queensland as a Priest. The remaining two Brothers from Papua New Guinea are approaching the end of their posting to Australia. They await the arrival of new Brothers who are currently in the process of obtaining their Australian working visas.

Br Abaijah’s Story

God blesses those people whose hearts are pure. They will see him! (Matthew 5:8)

I am from Dogura Diocese (Milne Bay Province) PNG. After I finished school, I helped my parents in subsistence farming. I felt a calling to join the work of the Melanesian Brotherhood.

In 2006 I became a novice at Siri Siri section headquarters in Dogura Diocese. After that I became a professed Brother serving at our Regional Headquarters in Dobudoru.

I was focussed on the mission of the Brotherhood to go out helping people in their needs as part of a labour of love. Helping the old people. Visiting the sick. Sharing evening prayer and evangelising.

In 2017 at the Brotherhood Regional Conference, I was posted to come to Australia. We arrived in 2019. I felt good to be part of the mission to Australia. First, we went to Shepparton in Victoria. Some of the Brothers struggled with the cold but I enjoyed the cold temperatures.

Later Bishop Keith [Joseph, of North Queensland] asked us to start a new household on Thursday Island. It was great to come to North Queensland. The people are welcoming and helped us settle in.

My duties are helping out around the church, ringing the bell, assisting the priest and maintaining the church property. Every day we have morning and evening prayers. I’m looking forward to going back to PNG for the Brotherhood Section conference at the end of this year.

Br Kelliot’s Story

Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptise them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world. (Matthew 28.19-20)

My original village was Hungiri [in Papua New Guinea] but I grew up in my mother’s village, Hujavasusu in Popondota Diocese. After community school I went to Martyrs Memorial High School. From there I finished high school and went back home with my parents. I became very sick and was in hospital for almost 6 weeks. Shortly after this the Melanesian Brothers came to stay in my village for mission. I was helping them out while they were there. Before this I didn’t have any thought of becoming a Brother. But when they left, they invited me to come and join them. I was thinking I might have a vocation, so I decided to go with them and test the call.

This was in 2003. In 2007 I was admitted as a professed Brother. A few days after becoming a Brother, they gave me the position of Regional Secretary for the PNG region. From 2010 I was sent to do my studies in the Solomon Islands (at Bishop Patteson Theological College). I enjoyed my studies and living at Tabalia, the Mother House of the Melanesian Brotherhood. It was here that I met Bishop Keith Joseph who was one of my lecturers.

After I graduated with a Diploma in Theology, I returned to PNG and I was ordained as a Deacon. In 2017 I was ordained as a Brother Priest in St Albans, Dikowari parish. After I was ordained, we had the Brotherhood Regional conference where I was posted to the new Brotherhood household in Australia. We spent most of 2018 in Port Moresby while our documents were processed and in early 2019, we arrived in Wangaratta Diocese.

In 2020 Bishop Keith asked the Brothers to come to Thursday Island [TI]. I am currently the Priest in Charge of All Souls and St Bartholomew on TI.

I am happy that I was given this position as a Priest in Charge, and I am enjoying being able to make my own program and attending to the ministry. I make visits to the hospital and the old peoples’ home. I celebrate and preach, taking communion out for those who are unable to come to the church. On Friday evening there is choir practice. I also fill in for priest absences in neighbouring parishes. I catch the ferry to Bamaga when Fr Victor is unable to take services. Once a month I visit Darnley Island (Erub) to take services there. I do baptisms, marriages, and funerals. We also go out and help people who need assistance, like manual labour. In the Melanesian Brotherhood we call this our labour of love.

When I was told to come to Australia, I was happy and at the same time I was a bit panicked because PNG is not a developed country and Australia is more developed. This made me think more deeply into my calling and I put my trust in God that God would provide me everything I needed.

At first it was a great challenge. In Shepparton it was very different. In PNG everything is very open, but in Australia everyone is more individually focussed. The big shock to me coming to Australia is the development. Everything is done in cars. It is a big difference and has also been a challenge to me.

At first it was a bit difficult interacting with people. Now I am putting my culture aside and trying to pick up the culture here. The Torres Strait is much more like PNG but there are still differences. The biggest difference here is the individualism. In PNG everything is a more community focussed. It can be hard because here people often don’t share their real problems. They keep them hidden.

One of the good things that I see is the different churches working together hand in hand.
Please pray for Brother Kelliot and Brother Abaijah.

They have asked for prayers for:
• Ministry in the Torres Strait
• The coming of the new Brothers to Australia
• Their own return to Papua New Guinea
• The Anglican Church of All Souls and St Bartholomew on Thursday Island.

ABM thanks all who support this project whether through your prayers or through financial support.