A new book on the history of the Capuchin's early missionary efforts in Papua New Guinea is now available. Only the Beginnings
, written by Fr. Blaine Burkey, O.F.M.Cap., is 344 pages, complete with photos, diagrams and maps. The book is a real treasure for anyone interested in the history of the Capuchin's involvement in Papua New Guinea or in the history of Catholic missions for that matter.
Perhaps one of the most amazing aspects of the book is that it almost never came to be! After initially beginning work on the book in 1979 and halting five years later, the manuscript went largely untouched for the next 32 years! In his cover letter to the book, Fr. Blaine writes: "For some reason the effort came to a halt in 1984; and then for many years it sat virtually untouched in
my rooms in Hays, St. Louis and Denver, where it constantly reminded me of a failed effort. Realizing someone might pitch it in the trash after my demise, I eventually transferred it to the provincial archives, where it again has rested in peace."
It was through the encouragement of friends anxious that the work could be read and preserved that the book finally came to fruition. For that to happen, the entire manuscript needed to be retyped! Again, from Fr. Blaine's cover letter: "Jim Little, our provincial IT, suggested that I get 27 of my friends to each retype a chapter, and he offered to do one himself. Though doubtful that I had that many friends who would be willing to type, I thought I would at least ask. That spurred an amazing effort which eventually saw seven friars and 10 lay people (one a layman) very generously pitching in during the 2016 Easter season to resurrect the manuscript."
That manuscript is now a book and is available for free download: Read Now: Only the Beginnings