The Missionaries

Missionary activities

Missionary presence was by far the biggest influence upon Lihirian society. In 1902 the Sacred Heart Catholic Mission sought to expand its influence from Rabaul to New Ireland (then New Macklenburg), concentrating on Lihir and the other outer islands. Despite an early presence, the Palie Catholic Mission Station was not established until 1933.palie church

Palie Catholic Church

Similarly although the Methodists had been permanently positioned in Lihir prior to 1933, they never established an official station. The first Lihirian man to be baptised (in 1907) was a ‘reformed cannibal’ named John Targolam from Bulamwei Village on Masahet who was previously languishing in the Namatanai prison. His conversion to Catholicism proved instrumental in the transformation of Lihirian social and religious life; the majority of Lihirians soon aligned themselves with either the Methodists or the Catholics.

Namatanai Catholic Church small

Namatanai Catholic Church

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