This signifies that the Augustinians in Papua have reached a sufficient number to be granted greater control of their own administration. This has been the usual lengthy process in such circumstances. In this case, the Papuan ministry of the Order of Saint Augustine began on 1st January 1953. (Four hundred years earlier, the first four priests to sail around the world - who were Spanish Augustinians - were in 1544 held nearby by the Portuguese at Ambon on the Malay Peninsula.)
The official canonical commencement of the new Vicariate took place in two events in West Papua. The first occurred at Sorong on 1st November and the second in Jayapura on 4th November 2013. The events in Sorong were held on the Feast of All Saints and the Principal Celebrant was Bishop Datus Hilarion Lega from the local Diocese of Manokwari-Sorong assisted by numerous Augustinian priests. The local Augustinian novices and postulants joined in the celebrations which were held in the hall of a parish near to the downtown community.
Video: Jungle-surrounded Senopi, West Papua, which for decades until recently was a parish staffed by the Augustinians. This video features a maternal and child welfare program; an Augustinian appears briefly in this video.
After the Mass and the proclamation of the new Vicariate there was a wonderful showcase of talent including indigenous song and dances, contemporary choirs and much local food. Highlights included an award winning choir and the children in traditional clothing who performed some of the tribal dancers. As the evening and the festivities developed more and more people came to join in the celebrations. The locals dancing in the hall were delight at the new status of the Order in their land.
In Jayapura the celebrations were in the chapel of the professed house. The choir practiced for many hours in the preceding days and nights. Fr Bernardus and Fr Paul led the Mass and the celebrations with food brought in from near and far. The students sang and danced their way through the evening and are obviously very proud of the Order.
The new Vicariate has a number of parishes under its governance, a high school and significant student facilities for men aspiring to join the Order. Men in the Vicariate come from West Papua, East Timor, West Timor, Flores, Sulawesi, Java and Borneo as well as three men from Holland. They are a joyous and vibrant group.