The niece of a Papuan catechist who was killed for preaching the Catholic faith was brought to tears as she saw hundreds of people venerate her uncle last Sunday. Source: The Catholic Leader.
By Emilie Ng, The Catholic Leader
Angie Kolita-Payne is the niece of Blessed Peter To Rot, a Tolai man who was killed in 1945 during the Japanese invasion of Papua New Guinea. Her aunt on her mother’s side, Paula Ia Varpit, married Blessed Peter To Rot on November 11, 1936, when she was just 16.
Mrs Kolita-Payne, who lives in Brisbane, was not born when her uncle was killed, but lived with Blessed Peter To Rot’s daughter Rufina at the time of his beatification in 1995. She was lost for words at the global veneration of her uncle today.
“We’re in the 21st century and Peter was killed in the (Second) World War, and we’re still living his legacy,” she said.
His legacy is even more palpable in Australia, which is now home to the first chapel outside of PNG dedicated to Blessed Peter To Rot.
Mrs Kolita-Payne was among about 800 people who gathered at Marian Valley, south of Brisbane, last Sunday for a Mass to honour Blessed Peter To Rot, and to witness the opening and blessing of the chapel.
She was in charge of creating a traditional necklace made of Tolai shell money for PNG Cardinal John Ribat, who celebrated the Mass and blessed the chapel.
The 56-year-old said she was proud to be representing Blessed Peter To Rot and her family in Brisbane, which she has called home for eight years.
“It’s not just Rabaul, it’s the whole of PNG and Australia together, honouring this man, a simple lay man from my home and, because of his faith, he’s being honoured today as someone who brought life and peace to East New Britain,” Mrs Kolita-Payne said.
Blessed Peter To Rot is the first martyr and blessed from PNG, having been killed by a lethal injection for his staunch Catholic beliefs.