Pidgin journey from from Oxford to PNG

Bishop Bill Fey

Stepping over a pig about to be slaughtered while accompanying the relic of a potential saint may seem unconventional. But for Bishop of PNG's Kimbe Province, Capuchin Bill Fey, such events are not unusual, reports The Catholic Leader.

'On that instance, I was part of a procession carrying a relic of Blessed Peter To Rot, martyred by the Japanese during World War Two for opposing their planned legalisation of polygamy,' he said.

'We were carrying the relic throughout parishes in my diocese which is on the western side of the island of New Britain. The occasion was the one hundredth anniversary of his birth.

'The tradition in the villages is that important people have to step over a pig which is then speared to death to make a welcoming banquet for the guest. So the relic of Blessed Peter was lifted over the waiting pig.'

Bishop Fey wanted to diffuse any tendency to superstition that the arrival of the saint’s relic might create. 'So I would joke that this guy’s a hundred years old but can still jump over pigs,' he said with his typical quiet chuckle.

The soft-spoken American from Pennsylvania was recently in Brisbane enroute back to his diocese having attended the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania in New Zealand.

As in a talk he gave to Wynnum’s Guardian Angels parish a couple of years ago, Bishop Fey was championing the cause of his faith-filled but needy diocese. 

His was a story of a fascination with PNG which began when he was a high school student listening to Capuchin missionary stories in Western Pennsylvania. It was of studying philosophy and, remarkably, Pidgin at Oxford University.

The story was about being placed in charge of a diocese, which is physically falling apart.

FULL STORY From Oxford to PNG (The Catholic Leader)