Provincialate and Central House

PROVINCIALATE AND CENTRAL HOUSE

The Provincialate is the residence of the SVD provincial administration, comprising the Provincial Superior, Provincial Secretary, and Provincial Treasurer. The SVD came to New Guinea in 1896 along the north coast via Tumleo to Wewak and eventually on to Madang. The first centre for the Regional Superior was in Wewak and it remained there until 1957.  In that year, under the then Regional, Fr. George Bernarding, SVD the Regional House was moved from Wewak to Alexishafen.  The Regional House was in Alexishafen until 1979; then, at least for a short while, it moved to Minj in the Western Highlands under Fr. Arnold Steffen as Provincial Superior.  At that stage, the Region had been upgraded to a Province.  In 1980, the provincial administration moved into the new SVD Provincialate in Newtown, Mt. Hagen.  It remained there until 2008 and then it was moved again to become part of the new SVD Central House in Madang. 

The main purpose for a Provincialate is to provide a centre for the administration of the SVD Province.  It also provides the location at which usually the SVD Provincial Council meets to discuss issues of common interest in the SVD Province of PNG.  Apart from the Provincial Superior there are 4 members on the Provincial Council. Usually the Provincial Council members are chosen from different areas in the Province, but they do not reside at the Provincialate.  They come together whenever the Provincial Council needs to meet.

The SVD Central House, Madang serves as a multi-functional community, containing the Provincialate, Madang district house, rest-house, SVD language students residence, and SVD archives. 

It was blessed and opened on Wednesday, 23rd April, 2008, by Archbishop William Kurtz, SVD, the then Archbishop of Madang. On that occasion, the Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, also graced us with his presence. The planning for the building of the Central House was done while Fr. Jan Szweda SVD was Provincial Superior. The house was opened while Fr. Patrick Hogan, SVD was Provincial Superior.

The PNG Province cherishes its dedication under the title of “Immaculate Heart of Mary Province’, but the SVD Central House is dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel. This is in memory of our original SVD motherhouse in Steyl, Netherlands, also dedicated to St. Michael.  By happy coincidence, Bro. Walter Fuchs SVD of the Alexishafen Conference Centre generously donated to the Central House a wooden statue of St. Michael. This statue was carved by our SVD Brothers in Steyl in the 1930’s and shipped out to New Guinea before the war with the intention of placing it in a niche on the façade of the new cathedral in Alexishafen.  Unfortunately the war broke out, and the statue was placed for safe keeping in the SVD Brothers house instead.  The war saw the destruction of all the buildings in Alexishafen, with only the SVD Brothers house surviving intact with the statue of St. Michael.  After the war, the statue stood in the SVD Regional House – later part of the Conference Centre - in Alexishafen. The SVD confreres cherish this physical and historical link with the roots of our Society. We are also conscious of the fact that St. Michael the Archangel is the patron saint of Papua New Guinea, and we value his powerful protection on our missionary work and on the Church as a whole in PNG. 

The SVD Central House was formally erected by the SVD Superior General, Fr. Antonio Pernia,  as a religious house in the archdiocese of Madang on 9th September, 2011. This was after we received the kind permission of the Archbishop of Madang, Stephen Reichert, OFM Cap on 8th August, 2011. 

The Central House includes the provincial administration: Provincial Superior; Provincial Treasurer; and Provincial Secretary.

The SVD Central House also provides a temporary residence for our Papua New Guinean confreres preparing to take up missionary appointments overseas. 

The SVD Central House also provides a good location for meetings with pleasant congenial surroundings.  Confreres from all over the PNG Province are welcome to come and rest and relax from their labours for the Kingdom of God in PNG. Although only 4 years old, the SVD Central House has proved its worth and value for the Society of the Divine Word in Papua New Guinea.