To Submit Your Story!
Told by: Fr. Malachy McBride, OFM Cap (Denver, CO.)
I was stationed in Tari for five years, 1971-1976.
During that time Paul was assigned to St. Joseph's High School near Tari.
So, I saw him often since I would go to the high school to be available
to talk with students about their interest in going to the Seminary.
I looked forward to those weekly visits and his stories.
Paul told me many stories of the early days...late
fifties and early sixties.
One was about the Australian Army on maneuvers
in the Tari area. PNG was still under the Australian Government.
Some of the Aussie soldiers were invited to the Mission for dinner one
evening. While they were at dinner with Paul and the Franciscan Sisters,
there was a knock on the door. Paul stepped outside to see who was
knocking when he tripped a wire that set off some flares, giving him a
So, the fight was on. After everyone
settled down, having had a great laugh at Paul's expense, he went to the
kitchen and spoke quietly to the Sisters. Later that evening the
soldiers departed in their vehicle, still having a great laugh over the
"tripped wire" which they had set up.
Did Paul and the Sisters get them back?
A hundredfold! They got in their vehicle and sat on jam. Then
driver got honey or some kind of syrup from the steering wheel all over
his hands. Was that all? No! The next morning the commanding
officer was furious with his men. You see, it is very dark at nights
in PNG…No street lamps. Generators are turned off around ten p.m.
to conserve precious fuel. So it is very dark. These poor soldiers
did not realize that hundreds of little American Flag stickers were pasted
all over their vehicle, inside and out. At sunrise a crowd of Huli
people gathered around this jeep having a great laugh at the Aussies.
When the vehicle was cleaned up the commander
made these soldiers march on foot down to the Mission carrying a white
flag, surrendering, lest anything worse happen to them.
Paul had many adventures on his motorbike.
He loved to weave from side to side on the roads (not many vehicles in
those days to worry about). He would greet the local people walking
to and from market with a Huli greeting that he used no matter where he
went, even in non-Huli areas: "Mambo, Bayale", he would yell. Translated
it would mean something like, "Hey Friend (Brother)! Good on you!"
So, people would always greet him in return, "Aba, Mambo!" i.e., "Father,
So, on one of these bike trips, weaving from
side to side on the road, greeting people, he suddenly disappeared in a
very deep ditch (Huli men are famous for and take great pride in the deep
trenches that they dig for protection and then later for the roads).
A little girl saw him and peered over the edge. Paul was pinned under
the bike, and even when he got the bike off of him he could not get out
of the ditch alone. Nor did he want to abandon his bike. She,
in fright, disappeared. Paul sat in the ditch hollering. Some
Seventh Day Adventists happened along, heard him hollering. They were shocked,
amazed and then quite amused as they helped Paul out of the ditch with
his bike. Thus, long before Vatican II, began a relationship between
SDA's and Catholics, at least while Paul was still in Tari.
So, these are a couple stories about Paul.
There are so many more. What a great guy he was. What a great
friar. We never needed an alarm to wake us up at the friary.
He would wake up early and then would wash his face so audibly (cold water)
that sleep was ended for anyone else. If we had recorded these sounds,
we would have filled a small library with the tapes, none quite the same.
Kids everywhere, in the Highlands and on the Coast would follow him around,
imitating his Woody Woodpecker call, greeting one another with "Mambo,
I think the Lord greeted him thus: "Ae, Mambo,
haabobo holene mule, ibabe." That is, "Hey, Friend, come, enter eternal
Fr. Malachy McBride, OFM Cap (Denver, CO.)
Told by: Dr. Gabe Lomas
Paul was one of the first American Caps I met
in Huliland, and I'll never forget his kind and hearty welcome.
I've read Malachy's story about him on the
motorbike. He had some great adventures on that! On one occasion
he had it on a raft with him crossing a pretty swift river. The raft
snagged and split, and Paul his bike both went under. The bike stayed
there, but luckily Paul rose again - very fortunate to escape from what
he described as 'a watery grave'.
One night, Paul got caught in the middle of
a really dense mist as he rode back to the Tari mission station.
Near the station was an airstrip that he had to drive across, and the airstrip
was surrounded by one of those huge Huli ditches that Malachy has mentioned.
Paul got onto the airstrip all right, but the fog suddenly became extremely
thick, and he was afraid of missing the narrow bridge that crossed the
ditch on the other side. So he dismounted and edged his way forward
on foot, feeling for the bridge. When he located it, he crept back
to where he'd left his bike. But, alas, he couldn't find it in the dense
mist! After almost an hour of casting about in the dark, looking
for his trusty steed - returning cautiously every so often to check the
location of the bridge - he finally gave up and walked/groped his way back
home. Early next morning there was an angry radio message from a
pilot asking what the *@!#* that motorbike was doing in the middle
of the runway!
When Paul was at the high school in Tari,
he set up a sort of museum or cultural centre for the display of Huli artifacts.
Many of the people, old and young alike, appreciated this effort to preserve
Ae ogoni (that's all).
Dr. Gabe Lomas (Papua New Guinea)
Told by: Linda Leonard (heard from Paul's Mom)
One of my cousin's was making his First Communion
and he was practicing to make his First Confession. Apparently, he
told the nun, who was hearing his 'confession,' that his Uncle Paul had
shown him pictures of naked women. Well, one can imagine how horrified
the nuns were to know that a 7 year old's uncle (who just happened to be
a priest) was showing pictures of naked women to his nephew! After
an embarrassed family was questioned, it was discovered that my cousin
was talking about photographs of New Guinean women in their native dress.
Uncle Paul had recently been home and shown new photos and, as anyone who
ever saw his photographs knows, the women did not wear any upper garments.
Nana never would say which cousin 'confessed.'
Linda Leonard (Pittsburgh, PA)
Told by: Jack Farkas
Father Paul was my uncle. He was a Steelers football fan,
also. He knew that my wife Patty and I were Steelers season ticket holders who
attended all of the home games back in the glory days of the 1970's. So when he
was back in Pittsburgh and it happened to be football season, he might ask to
bum a ride to a Steelers game if he was able to get tickets.
One weekend in the 70s just such an occasion occurred. He
and the bishop (I'm not sure of his name, but he was the bishop of New Guinea
diocese at that time) had tickets to a Steelers game and Uncle Paul asked if we
could give them a lift. I said sure. He didn't know that at the time my means of
transport was a 1972 VW Super Beetle.
As usual in those days, Patty and I were running late when
we picked them up at St. Paul's Monastery on the South Side. Because we were
running late, I had not taken the time to stop and get gas even though the gauge
read "E". I'd done this many times before in those days of limited
funds, and optimistic youth. I felt confident that I had enough gas to get to
the game, and then I could fill up after the game. We shoehorned the bishop and
Father Paul into the back seat of the VW (they refused to displace Patty from
the front seat), and headed for the game.
We crossed the Mon River from the South Side and went
through the Armstrong tunnels. As we came down the street linking Fifth Avenue
and Forbes Avenue (Chatham Sq) near the Civic Arena, the engine started to
cough. I knew instantly what the problem was and remembered that there was a
Gulf Oil station in the Chatham Center ground floor. The light at the foot of
the hill was green and I prayed that it would remain so as I slipped the car
into neutral. The light stayed green as I made the left turn onto 5th
Avenue. Then I started praying that the gas station was open on Sunday morning.
As I coasted into the station and up to a pump I breathed a sigh of relief when
I noticed that the lights were on and someone was in the station. I filled the
tank and we went on our way to the game. I'm not sure that Father Paul or the
bishop realized that we had run out of gas completely. However, I knew that it
pays to have a priest and a bishop on board when tempting fate.
Jack Farkas (Coraopolis,
Told by: Bill Farkas (Fr. Paul's brother)
Paul's 1st year at the seminary was marred by a big fire and you can imagine our
surprise at home when Paul showed up smelling of smoke after he hitch hiked home
from Butler carrying his suit case. When Paul came home on leave from New
Guinea, he would always spend a couple weeks with me in Rutledge which were
great. Our arguments on the front porch were till the wee hours of the morning
and I as usual would stir it up until my wife would come down to quiet us
down. He often had mass in our dinning room but sometimes at our
church. He would always wait till the last minute to go and when I tried
to hurry him on, his favorite saying was "They wont start without
me." When he was home and baptized our daughter Marilyn, he
(being Paul) said "I baptize you Marilyn MONROE. He was a Priest's
Bill Farkas (Fr. Paul's brother)