New Guinea Martyrs

Rev John Barge’s walking stick

The Martyrs of New Guinea Remembered at St Mark’s

One of the martyrs, Rev John Barge, attended old St Mark’s on his college vacations with his sister, Mrs Mabel Renton, before joining the New Guinea Mission. He occasionally preached here when on missionary furlough. The date set for New Guinea Martyrs Day is 2nd September each year but we often observe it in October on a Sunday closest to John Barge’s death (22nd Oct, 1943).

Photo above: Rev John Barge

Photo above: Rev John Barge

The martyrs were killed inNew Guinea at the hands of the Japanese in 1942 and 1943. Of the eleven martyrs, two were Papuans. Of the remaining nine, six had connections withQueensland and like John Barge were associated with various parishes in and aroundBrisbane. Some completed nursing training inBrisbane hospitals or, like John Barge, trained for the priesthood at St Francis College. All could have chosen a safer way but they believed that to do so would have been a denial of what they had been called to do. These ‘local  martyrs’ remind us that saints and martyrs are not just figures in stained glass windows – they were real people who lived out their lives as Christians in the day to day world.On the inside back wall of St Mark’s is some information about Rev John Barge. His walking stick is on display there as well.

Each year the Archbishop’s November Appeal supports some aspect of the work of the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea. For more information about ABM visit their website at


Celebrating the New Guinea Martyrs at St Mark’s

Below is some information about John Barge supplied by members of his family, together with extracts from some of his sermons.

An Insight –  by Bliss Filippini 20/10/11

It is without a doubt an honour, as a descendant of the late John Barge to be able to hear the unwavering voice and wisdom of such a worldly man spoken in 2011.  While much has changed and time has progressed the meaning of these sermons, and the valuable theories behind them, still speak a thousand words, which I believe in this era are more applicable now than they ever were.  Societal prejudices have somehow seen the respect of our youth seemingly diminish, while economic and political responsibilities have heightened, and it is in light of these changes occurring that we need to pause today, for a moment in time, to hear the depth of these words and come to realise that we are indeed servants of Gods, who must, on our journey in this life, stop to consider how we treat ourselves and others in this ever changing world.  So I ask that you take the time today to stop, and take a step back from your daily lives to listen to the words of John Barge, to be reminded of our purpose in life and for whom and to what we should be grateful.  That of the Highest Power, God.

While I know John is amongst us all today, in all his glory, I ask that we also take the time to acknowledge his Niece Vera Jasch and her daughter Wendy Jamieson who are with us today to experience this Journey, alongside you.  Mabel Renton, Vera’s mother, out of the love and devotion to both her faith and brother (John) has enabled us today to share John’s understandings of faith, on a level so pure and respected by all, today.


Sermon for the 5th Sunday after the Epiphany 1933

Some people seem to think that the only vocation or calling in life, is to that of the sacred ministry.

No one would deny that there is a higher calling, than serving God in his Church, but at the same time, Jesus Christ did not place himself on a pedestal high above the people, amongst whom he ministered, for He was always ready to do his Father’s will, and serve the people in every way possible, when they needed His help.

Our Saviour was the friend of every section of the Community in which he dwelt, and He felt at ease and at home, with the rich and poor alike.  If Christs’ ministers wish to imitate their master in the right way, they must also be servants, and love to give their services, without partiality or favouritism to all who need them.

But there are many other vocations in life as well as the Sacred ministry.  These are all important in the world.  We know that it is very difficult nowadays for many to find employment and good position, but whatever we do that is honest work is appreciated by God (who regards nothing as common and unclear) and who sees all our efforts, and regards our successes and failures with the greatest sympathy.

Trinity III 1934/Trinity VI

It is good for us all, old and young alike to place on one side as often as possible our worldly business, pleasures, and cares, and remember who we are and consider the direction in which we are travelling.  We must remember that we are captains of our souls and it is we ourselves who will pilot our souls like ships at the end of our lives into a fair haven of rest, where all is well with us, or we shall dash ourselves upon the rocks, and our endless life of joy and happiness will be lost to us.  So that is why we should often as far as we are able dwell upon the existence of God who is ever present with us.

We will consider first Highest Personality, and his wonderful power over all created things, and we may remember too in all humility that God made us in His own image, and placed us above everything else in the world.  He has made man’s brain of such an elastic nature, that by the power of God working in him, he is able to invest or discover ways and means of doing things that were unheard of in the time of our forefathers.


Responsibility (Wednesday, February 6th 1935)

“He that is faithful in that which is learnt is faithful also in much.”

Tonight for a few minutes, it is my desire to speak to you on the subject of responsibility.  I suppose that responsibility begins in our lives at a very early age.  Even when we were young, our Mothers and Fathers gave us tasks to do, and which we had to give account.  It may have been minding the baby, running messages, or doing some other little tasks in the home.  Then we were responsible or answerable for our progress at school, so that you can see responsibility commenced at a very early age, and has continued ever since.  How we must never be afraid to accept responsibility.  Providing of course we feel that we have the work at heart, and are willing to do our best to make a success of the task that lies in front of us.  How innumerable are the responsible positions in the world today.  Politically, and socially in the secular life, and also in the Religious life.  A Clergyman should feel his position very keenly, for he is responsible for the cure of souls, and he will be answerable for the success or failure of his calling.  All leaders of Guilds and Societies naturally feel their responsibility, but it should never make them feel afraid, for with God on their side, and Jesus Christ as their Hero, they will face their task of leadership undaunted, even in the face of discouragement, and perhaps hostility.  Yet it is not only the leaders who are responsible, the rank also share with them their task.  It is cooperation that will enable a leader to accomplish successfully his or her task.


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