Alain Marie Guynot de Boismenu

Alain Marie Guynot de Boismenu (1870-1953), A leading member of the Congregation of Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in British New Guinea (later Papua) 1898-1945. In 1898 he established a Catholic mission on Yule Island, off the south central coast of Papua, and was appointed counselor to Archbishop Navarre, the Vicar Apostolic of British New Guinea. In 1900 he was consecrated as coadjutor bishop to Navarre whom he succeeded as Vicar Apostolic in 1908. Between 1910 and 1940 he established an administrative and financial structure under which the mission expanded from Yule Island and the Mekeo region of the Papuan coast to inland districts. He encouraged missionaries to evangelize areas beyond the stations and train local catechists usually in the vernacular. In 1898 there were five districts, covering 8,000 people, with an estimated 2,400 Catholics and 800 children in mission schools. In 1945 there were 11 districts, covering 65,000 people, with an estimated 23,500 Catholics and 7,000 children in mission schools.

Boismenu believed that mission schools should give a basic general education as well as religious instruction and teach the English language. He encouraged missions to teach the skills needed to build and maintain stations. In 1924 he established a technical school on Yule Island as a model for Catholic mission technical training. By 1932 48 graduates of Catholic technical schools were employed by the Administration and private enterprises. Schools were funded from Australian and European sources and subsidized by the Administration. In 1916 a training school for catechists was established and in 1933 there were 219 Papuan catechists. In 1928 he sent a Papuan, Louis Vangeke, to study in Madagascar. Vangeke returned as an ordained priest, the first Melanesian of any denomination in the colony, in 1937. In 1918 Boismenu founded the Handmaids of Our Lord which was developed by the French Sister Marie Therese Noblet between 1921 and 1930. In 1935 he introduced Carmelite nuns from France and the Philippines to found the first contemplative monastery. He retired in 1945 but continued to live in PNG until his death in 1953.

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