Fr Mihalic, 1916-2001

Joel Bradshaw bradshaw at
Tue Dec 11 17:50:04 UTC 2001

Post Courier News, Tuesday 11th December 2001

Fr Mihalic dies in California

CATHOLIC priest, missionary, newspaper editor, linguist, compiler of the first
Tok Pisin dictionary and educator Fr Frank Mihalic (in the Post-Courier file
photo above) died at the weekend.

Divine Word Missionaries in Mount Hagen said yesterday Fr Mihalic died in his
Californian home of the United States on December 8, 2001 after suffering from
pneumonia and its complications.

Son of a Pennsylvanian farmer and railwayman, Fr Mihalic was born on November
24, 1916 to a family of 10 — four boys and six girls and raised among a
“missionary magazine reading” family.

Fr Mihalic first came to PNG as a missionary in 1948 and was based in
Alexishafen, Madang. A few months later he was posted to Marienberg, East Sepik
Province as parish priest where one of his first parishioners was “young”
Michael Somare who later became the country’s first Prime Minister. He worked
mostly in the Mamose region until his return to the States due to “severe body
complications” and after the Italy divine word missionaries recalled him.

In 1969 Fr Mihalic returned to Wewak to set up the Wantok Newspaper and remained
editor until 1979. During those years Fr Frank published the Jacaranda
dictionary and grammar of Melanesian pidgin, widely used in PNG in the early
days — he also found time to translate the PNG Constitution into Tok Pisin and
in 1981 was awarded the OBE for services rendered to Pidgin in PNG and an
honorary doctorate of linguistics from the University of PNG.

In 1982 he was asked to head the Communication Arts department at the Divine
Word University until 1997.

Fr Mihalic spent 52 years teaching in PNG and in his term wrote more than 30
books, some of which are now used in many schools.

Copyright, 2001, Post-Courier Online. Use of this site is governed by our Legal

Joel Bradshaw <bradshaw at>
Journals & Web Manager, University of Hawai'i Press
2840 Kolowalu Street, Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: 808-956-6790; Fax: 808-988-6052

More information about the An-lang mailing list