Next month, a Polish missionary to Papua New Guinea will continue his 23-year ministry to the Melanesian nation with the added responsibility of serving as Bishop of Wewak, on the country's northern coast. On Feb. 6, Pope Francis appointed Fr. Jozef Roszynski, S.V.D., as Bishop of Wewak; his episcopal consecration is to take place April 25. “Fr. Joe is a lively man, and loved by the people, the priests and religious of the diocese,” said Fr. Victor Roche, general secretary of the Papua New Guinea bishops conference. Fr. Roszynski was born in 1962 in the Polish town of Nidzica, and at the age of 19 he joined the Society of the Divine Word. He professed religious vows in 1982, and attended seminary from then until 1989, obtaining a master's degree in theology from the Catholic University of Lublin. In 1989 he was ordained a priest of the Society of the Divine Word, and he served two years as a priest in Poland, and then spent a year studying English. Fr. Roszynski arrived to Papua New Guinea in October, 1992, where he has since served. He has spent all but two of the past 23 years in the Wewak diocese, serving various parishes. He began by learning the pidgin language and culture. He has been a district superior and acting provincial for the Society of the Divine Word, and has been assisting at the parishes in the Wewak diocese which are without resident priests.. He also spent two years in Madang, studying human resources and counseling at Divine Word University. “The Diocese of Wewak is the biggest in Papua New Guinea for number of parishes, a traditionally Catholic area,” Fr. Giorgio Licini, communications director for the Papuan bishops conference, told CNA March 7. Some 61 percent of the diocese's population is Catholic: more than double the national average of 27 percent. The diocese of more than 14,000 square miles has 45 parishes, and only 37 priests, both diocesan and religious. Fr. Licini recounted that the new bishop, who carries vast experience, has to steer through several challenges in the Wewak diocese, especially with the “financial crisis, a number of dysfunctional priests, and many parishes lacking priests.” He added that the predisposition to alcoholism common among some of the indigenous tribes along the Sepik river will also be a particular challenge for the new bishop.
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