chapter  9
“In the Way” in Melanesia: Modernity and the New Woman in Papua New Guinea as Catholic Missionary Sister
ByNancy C. Lutkehaus
Pages 20

In the United States, their median age is sixty-nine and since their peak in 1965, when Catholic sisters numbered 185,000, there has been a declining number of new recruits. At present, the Missionary Sister Servants of the Holy Spirit have 3,500 members working in 41 countries. The Society of the Divine Word (SVD) missionaries and the Holy Spirit Sisters arrived in this part of New Guinea in 1896, soon after Germany had annexed the northern portion of New Guinea in 1884. Burridge's study of missionaries, In the Way, attempts to provide an anthropological analysis of Christian missionaries of various denominations as both a social class and what he identifies as a "metaculture". There is one other important dimension to Sister Gabriella's decision to become an SSpS nun that speaks in particular to the issue of an anthropology of Melanesian morality. The notion of community takes on two meanings with regard to a missionary.