Louis Vangeke

Louis Vangeke (1904-1982), first PNGan bishop. Vangeke was born in Beipa, Mekeo, Central District. His father was a sorcerer and his mother died in childbirth. He was brought up by Irish nuns and educated at St Patrick’s primary school at the Yule Island Catholic mission. In 1920 he joined the Little Brothers, the first indigenous Catholic order. In response to a papal call for the training of indigenous clergy Vangeke was sent, in 1928, to study in a Jesuit-run seminary in Madagascar. His training began at lower-secondary level and it was not until 1937 that he was ordained as the first indigenous Catholic priest. His studies included Latin, French and philosophy, as well as English, and when he returned to the colony better educated than most whites there was considerable expatriate resentment towards him.

However, Vangeke was approved by the Administrator, Hubert Murray, who waived the racially discriminatory liquor, clothing and curfew regulations to enable him to perform his religious duties. In 1941 he was admitted to the Sacred Heart Order and spent most of his ministry among the Kuni people. In 1955 and 1969 he traveled to Europe. In 1970 Vangeke went to Sydney during a visit by Pope Paul VI by whom he was consecrated titular bishop of Culusi and auxiliary bishop of Port Moresby. In 1976 he was made bishop of Bereina where he lived until his death. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by UPNG and knighted in 1980.

More on Louis Vangeke: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/vangeke-sir-louis-15893

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