Today is the day in the Anglican calendar when we remember the New Guinea Martyrs. When the Japanese declared war in December 1941, it was clear that Papua New Guinea would soon be under threat of attack. Missionaries on the island were in acute danger, and yet although many civilians were evacuated, they stayed, believing that to abandon their posts at that time would be inconsistent with their faith and their Christian duty.
The martyrs, including Anglican clergy, teachers and medical missionaries were executed during August and September 1942, including May Hayman, a nurse, and Mavis Parkinson a teacher who were executed at Ururu; Henry Matthews, a priest and Leslie Gariadi, a Papuan teacher and evangelist who died when they were thrown into the sea; John Barge and Bernard Moore, priests who died in New Britain. The largest group of martyrs was a group beheaded on the beach at Buna, including an English priest, Vivian Redlich, Margery Brenchley a nurse, Lilla Lashmar a teacher, John Duffil a builder, Henry Holland a priest and Lucien Tapiedi a Papuan teacher.
The tragedy touched this Diocese. Sister May Hayman was an Adelaide nurse working at the Canberra Hospital who attended St John’s Reid, and was sent out from our neighbouring parish on her missionary journey. There is a window dedicated in her memory at St John’s that depicts here in her nurses’ uniform.
We remember all of them today, missionaries who first gave their lives to minister in PNG, and then gave up their lives for the cause of Christ as they bravely and faithfully remained at their stations, serving the people to whom they were called.
Loving God, we thank you for the martyrs of Papua New Guinea, who remained faithful in their ministry in danger and even to death; may their witness strengthen your church today in service and courage, and in the power of the Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen
In peace, Mother Lynda