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Wednesday, 31 May 2023 10:24

Arnoldus Family Scholarships supporting PNG students in higher education

DWU 4th year students after receiving their missioning cross 550The Divine Word Missionaries and Holy Spirit Sisters in Papua New Guinea are hoping to gain fundraising support to help expand a university scholarship scheme, which has allowed about 80 students in the last four years to gain a university education.

Fr Philip Gibbs SVD from Divine Word University in Madang, PNG, was in Australia this month and shared the story of the Arnoldus Family Scholarships.

He said the scholarships had been up and running now for four years, with about 20 students awarded one of the scholarships each year.

The scholarships were the result of a collaboration between the Divine Word Missionaries (SVD) and the Holy Spirit Sisters (SSpS), both of which were founded by St Arnold Janssen in Holland in the late 1800s and are now known as members of the ‘Arnoldus Family’.

Currently the SVD and SSpS commit yearly K79,000 (AUD 34,000) each from their income. The scholarships cover either tuition fees or board and accommodation, depending on the need of the student, for one year, although in some cases, students may apply again for another year.

“They cover studies in any of the faculties of Divine Word University – Medicine and Health Sciences, Business and Informatics, Arts, which includes Social and Religious Studies, Communication Arts, PNG and International Studies, and also the Faculty of Education,” Fr Philip says.

“There are some cases where we are asked to assist students studying at other institutions, in areas such as aeronautics or agriculture.”

DWU Students in class 550Fr Philip says the SVD and SSpS initiated the scholarships because they saw that there were many worthy cases of students dropping out of their studies because they did not have the fees.

“Some students or their parents were telling us how difficult it was, so the missionaries decided to try and help,” he says.

“We were able to identify some funds to invest and the scholarships are offered from the interest on the investment.”

The scholarships have been so popular that the SVD and SSpS are now receiving many more requests than they are able to meet.

“So, hopefully we will be able to build up the investment and, as a consequence, gain more from the interest, which we can make available for scholarships,” Fr Philip says.

“At the moment, we have a fixed amount coming from the investment and when that fixed amount has been distributed, we have to tell those enquiring that we are unable to assist or that they try again next year.”

Fr Philip says the SVD and SSpS hope the awarding of the scholarships will help form ongoing relationships with those who receive them and foster a desire to help others.

“We try to keep contact with those who have benefited from the scholarship, so we hope that having benefited, some will appreciate it and wish to express their appreciation in being willing to help others,” he says.

“For example, last weekend, we asked the students benefiting from the scholarship this year to come together and prepare the celebration of Pentecost at the university chapel. We hope some will contribute towards the SVD and SSpS ‘lay partners’ movement as well.”


TOP RIGHT: Students from Divine Word University, Madang, holding the small box containing a special cross that all 4th year students receive as they prepare to depart from Divine Word University.  The event is called their "missioning".

BOTTOM LEFT: Students in class at Divine Word University.