It was on August 13, 1896, when the northeastern part of New Guinea first received a group of Catholic missionaries, and these were the pioneer missionaries of the SVD. The Lands of the Emperor William, as the territory of Papua New Guinea (PNG) was then called, made its first attempts to contact the local Church through the SVD missionaries who have accompanied it step by step, assisting it in its development ever since.
The first centenary of this event is the reason for the publication of the letters of the Founder Arnold Janssen, which constitute a window into his inner world, his thoughts and plans, his concerns and fears. One aspect of Arnold Janssen’s personality that stands out clearly in this collection of letters is his wisdom in accurately assessing the strengths and weaknesses of his missionaries.
The authorship of this correspondence rests without a doubt with Arnold Janssen, and it concerns his personal notes, which cover the period from August 9, 1893 to February 22, 1908. For practical reasons and due to the theme involved, they also include Arnold Janssen’s letters to Australia. The queries and responses from the Mission also reveal the tireless work of so many men and women – members of the Arnoldus Family – who donated their lives, and often died amid enormous sacrifices.
We trust that the present publication of the letters of our Founder, Arnold Janssen, edited by Father Josef Alt SVD, historical researcher of the Generalate, will inspire the SVD missionary confreres in the distant lands of Papua New Guinea (PNG), and Australia , and allow every reader to enter into the personality and charism of the Founder of the missionary work of Steyl and to be inspired by his spirit and missionary audacity.
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