Facts and Features


With four months in Papua New Guinea under my belt, I thought I would offer up some facts and features about life at St. Fidelis Seminary and some of the things that I’ve encountered here on the campus.  So here is St. Fidelis, by the numbers and such.


  • 3 Capuchin Friars:  Fr. Cyril, Br. Jim and Br. Alois
  • 2 Franciscan Sisters:  Sr. Ofelia and Sr. Helen (who hasn’t actually arrived yet, should be here in May)
  • 2 CapCorps Lay Missionary Teachers:  Nate and Steve
  • 1 PNG National Teacher:  Michael
  • 2 Cooks:  Marcus (friary) and Victor (students)
  • 1 Carpenter:  John
  • Family members of the staff:  12 (approximately)
  • Propaedeutic Seminarians: 23
  • Spiritual Year Seminarians: 10

Major Facilities

  • 1 Friary
  • 1 Convent
  • 1 Campus Chapel
  • 1 Student Dining Hall
  • 1 Student Kitchen
  • 2 Student Dormitories which also house the school offices, infirmary, assembly hall, computer lab, class rooms, library, and storerooms.
  • 2 Ablution Blocks (showers, toilets, sinks for the students)
  • 2 Classroom Buildings
  • 3 Workshop/Maintenance Buildings
  • 4 Staff Houses
  • 1 Basketball Court
  • 1 Volleyball Court
  • 1 Tennis Court
  • 1 Soccer/Rugby Field
  • Several vegetable and fruit gardens

Miscellaneous Campus Features

  • 3 Japanese anti-aircraft guns (WWII relics)
  • 14 Stations of the Cross made from WWII-era boat propellers. (Sadly, they are very neglected)
  • Several cisterns and tanks which collect rain water from the buildings – our main source of water.
  • 1 Marian shrine (Mary’s Point)
  • 1 St. Fidelis shrine (campus patron saint)
  • 1 wooden jetty along the seashore
  • 1 car, 1 pickup truck and 1 Dyna (a large flatbed truck with a canvas enclosure – used for hauling and carrying students)
  • 1 large farm tractor – used mainly for mowing
  • 4 lawn mowers of the usual type

Flora and Fauna

Since this is a tropical environment, there are many different types of plants and animals here.  I can’t identify too many of them, but here’s what I have seen on campus:

Trees:  coconut, betelnut, banana, papaya, mango, frangipani, and enormous rain trees.

Edible Plants:  bananas, pineapples, papaya, mango, cabbage, peppers, kaukau (local sweet potato), green beans, carrots, brocoli, tomatoes (some of these have been planted but not harvested yet).  There are also several different kinds of local fruits and vegetables that I just don’t know the names of.

There are also lots of flowering plants and bushes, including orchids.

Creatures:   Last week we saw a 7-foot snake, a brown constrictor of some type.  Other snakes include a black snake that got stuck chasing a mouse into the wall of a dormitory a few months ago, and a “lazy snake” that hides in the bushes looking like a stick.  None of these are poisonous.  I still don’t like them.

Other creatures include millions of red ants (they are very aggressive and bite), and several other small types of ants that invade the food pantry;  wasps, termites, spiders,  daytime mosquitos, night-time mosquitos (the malarial kinds), tree frogs, toads, wild pigs, random 3rd world dogs, small bats, large “flying fox” bats, sand crabs, brown eagles, willy wag tails (a black and white bird that has several really annoying sounds), and a wide assortment of barking geckos.   There are numerous types of birds around that we can always hear but never see.  They hide in the trees and brush and call loudly to each other.

Estimated # of Clergy That I’ve Met in PNG

  • Number of archbishops & bishops that I’ve met:  7
  • Number of Polish bishops/priests that I’ve met:  6
  • Number of American bishops/priests that I’ve met:  8
  • Number of American priests that I’ve met who have been in PNG for more than 30 years:  6
  • Number of Australian bishops/priests: 2
  • Number of PNG National bishops/priests:  5
  • Number of bishops/priests of other nationalities:  4

Estimated # of Religious That I’ve Met in PNG

  • Number of religious men (mostly Capuchins, but also SVDs and 1 Dominican): approx. 20
  • Number of religious women (various orders): 8  (there are quite a few here, but I have not met too many yet)

Miscellaneous Other Stuff

  • Average High Temperature:  96 degrees F
  • Average Low Temperature: 80 degrees F
  • Average High Temperature in My Room: 90 degrees F
  • Most Important Feature of My Room:  1 Ceiling Fan
  • Average number of rainfalls per week:  6
  • Average number of power outages per week: 4
  • Average number of hours of TV watched per week:  3
  • Number of TV channels available: 4  (2 from Australia Network, 1 BBC World News, 1 EWTN)
  • Total number of restaurant meals since arriving in PNG: 3 (BBC news and EWTN)
  • Total number of fast food meals since arriving in PNG:  0
  • Approximate number of mosquito or ant bites:  75
  • Approximate number of Masses attended:  117
  • Usual number of Digicel bars on my phone: 2 on a sunny day
  • Weight lost:  >25 lbs (if the scale here is to be believed, which I don’t)
  • Number of notches lower on my belt:  3
  • Number of times we’ve been swimming in the ocean: 4
  • Number of new popes since arriving in PNG: 1
  • Number of American football games watched: 1 (ND / Alabama)
  • Number of Aussie Rules football games watched: 1
  • Approximate Number of Books I’ve Read (Hardcover or Paperback): 3
  • Approximate Number of Books I’ve Read (Kindle iPad app): 14
  • Approximate Number of Books I’ve Read (iBooks iPad app): 22
  • Most read genre: Science Fiction
  • Best beer I’ve had in PNG:  SP (South Pacific).   It’s also the only beer I’ve had here.
  • Local name for Kellogg’s Rice Krispies (made in Australia):  Rice Bubbles  (that makes me laugh)
  • Local name for Kellogg’s Corn Flakes (also made in Australia):  Corn Flakes  (was that so hard?)
  • Best thing that our cook Marcus makes:  homemade bread  (It’s really good – much better than I make)
  • Biggest danger on campus:  Falling coconuts – seriously!  Once one lands near you and you realize it could have hit you in the head, you take notice where you stand.


7 thoughts on “Facts and Features

  1. I just shared a lot of this with Deacon Tom, followed by the comment “I would not do well in PNG”!!! Very interesting though – really paints a picture for us. Thanks, Steve.

  2. LOL. I loved this. I could just hear your voice as I was reading it. And it sounds like you’ve kept better count of all the pesky animals rather than the pleasant ones. 😉

    The seminary staff is a lot less than I pictured! Wow.

    What sort of restaurant(s) have you visited while in PNG?

    • As far as I can tell, there really aren’t any standalone restaurants like we have in the US. The restaurants where I’ve eaten are at one of the local seaside resorts in Madang. The one closest to St. Fidelis is Jais Aben Resort. The other one is the Madang Resort – probably the nicest one in the area. It’s usually filled with Australians or other foreigners. Both have decent food but pretty much out of the question for the locals.

  3. Heh, I almost expected to see a count of five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree. 😉

    All kidding aside, how do you find the food to be over there? I’m sure they don’t do as much processed foods as we have here stateside, so given that, it’s also not a surprise that you would have dropped some weight since arriving there. (The high temperatures, I’m sure, also contribute to that. 😉 )

    Also: you guys don’t feel over-worked with such a small staff, do you? I suppose with… 33 total seminarians, the teacher/student ratio is probably pretty good.

    Fascinating number analysis, Steve.

    • The food is very fresh for the most part. Much of the meat comes from the livestock area near Lae or from Australia. All the fruits and vegetables are local, some from the school itself. Marcus cooks very well, but nothing spicy. Not in their culture.

      The staff isn’t too overworked but we could really use Sr. Helen. We’re looking forward to her arrival from the Philippines soon.

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