New Saint of the month
Our newest Saint of the month is a Pacific Islander. Blessed Peter To Rot was born in 1912, in what is today Papua New Guinea. He was the son of the village chief, and he and his parents were baptized as adults and were among the first Catholics in their country.
From an early age, To Rot was interested in his faith. He became one of the youngest catechists in Papua New Guinea, and he always carried a Bible and knew Scriptures by heart. In 1936, he married Paula la Varpit, a Catholic woman from a nearby village. They had three children, one who died shortly after birth.
World War II changed the lives of the people of Papua New Guinea. When Japanese forces occupied their island, all missionaries were imprisoned. That left Peter as the only spiritual leader in the area. He provided prayer services and instruction, cared for the sick and dying, encouraged those frightened by the events of the war, and helped the poor.
In 1942, the Japanese forbade all Christian worship. But that only encouraged Peter to express his faith more publicly. He was known to hold Catholic prayer services in caves. The Japanese, seeking to force the local chieftains into collaborating with them, decided that the people should return to their previous practice of polygamy. This was a severe blow after almost half a century of missionary work. Peter firmly opposed this. For this reason he has been named one of the patron saints of marriage. By 1945, he was arrested and sentenced to prison. He told his visiting wife that he would die for the church. Not too long after, he was given a lethal drink and injection. The next morning, he was found dead. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on January 17, 1995.
Peter To Rot reminds us that by our very baptism, we are called to be priest, prophet and king. He was entrusted to uphold the faith life of the church, even at the cost of his life.