One interesting thing that happened recently was an annual pilgrimage to Maria Helpim. Here’s the story of the place to the best of my knowledge and recollection:
|This is a picture of a very old picture given to people at|
Alexishafen. It appears to be a US Airforce photo of a bomber
During World War 2, the many of the Catholic and Lutheran missionaries in the area chose to remain with the people rather than evacuate to Australia. The Catholic mission station at Alexishafen just down the road from us was commandeered and turned into the local headquarters of the Japanese army here after the invasion of the north coast. It was thus consequently obliterated by Allied bombing later on in the war. The missionaries were placed under house arrest, and once the allied bombing began were allowed to move further into the bush for safety.
There, during many hours of huddling in a small cave and praying for help, including many prayers sent up to the Blessed Mother under the title of “Mary, Help of Christians”, some of the missionaries resolved to return and build a place of prayer there when the war was over. Tragically, many of these missionaries including at least two dozen of the sisters, were killed later on. The missionaries were initially taken with the retreating Japanese army, and were forced to travel above board on a ship named the Doris Maru. When they came under attack from American aircraft, they sustained heavy strafing until an American pilot realized that the people on board the ship were wearing nuns’ habits and called off the attack.
It’s an interesting pilgrimage that has gone on for quite a while. We celebrated the feast of the “Exaltation of the Holy Cross” which came across in pidgin as “Win bilong Kruse”, which I would back-translate as “The Win of the Cross”. We prayed the stations of the cross as hundreds of us proceeded to a small place where a very small chapel has indeed been built dedicated to Mary, Help of Christians.
It’s good perhaps, to both remember in gratitude the times that God has provided us with help (as when through Mary’s intercession, the missionaries were preserved from Allied bombs there in the bush) while simultaneously embracing the cross for the times when severe and sustained hardships come upon us, remembering at those times the final victory that is assured us as we unite our sufferings to those of Christ on the cross.
|The small shelter at the spot in the bush.|
"Therefore, I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, together with eternal glory.
If we have died with him
if we persevere
we shall also reign with him.
But if we deny him
he will deny us. If we are unfaithful
he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny himself."