April 3, 2012

Recently we had the Suva parishes’ Lenten Cross visit and sleep at home in our Formation House carried by about 100 people as part of the city’s preparation for Easter. Carrying of statues, monstrance, or the Cross around the streets is a noticeable part of Fijian Catholic devotion. For an outsider, it can at first be a little strange or off-putting and instead sometimes Fijian Catholics are accused by other denominations as being idol-worshippers. But they take this in their stride, and the popularity of Marian and other processions never seems to wane, attracting indeed a very big number of young people.
For this reason, I was happy to have our local seminarians take part in it, and we offered our house for the Mass and refreshments associated with the Cross’ arrival. The inter-parish Cross walks from house to house give our people a chance to express publicly their love for Christ and His Passion. In this sense, I, for one, have grown into them as unofficial but valid ways of honoring the penitential season of Lent. By the way, I do hope that this Palm Sunday, unlike last, I won’t have to mount a very strong and wild horse who nearly bolted through out of the Church compound, with me on him, into the river!! Perhaps he thought we were celebrating Jesus’ immersion in the Jordan!
Fr. Pat Colgan lives and works in Fiji.

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Update as of April 2nd, 2012.

I was just speaking to Fr Donal McIlraith. Everyone is well in Ba. The waters have receded considerably. It is still up to the steps of New World opposite the market in town.
The buses are running and Teresia, the presbytery housekeeper, came to work this morning from her place on the other side of the river. She was preparing the breakfast for about 90 people who are staying in the parish hall.
A good sign that the worst is over is that they were preparing for a wedding to take place in the parish church this morning.
So we thank you for your prayers. There is still the clean-up to be done and supplies needed to feed the families while they wait for government assistance. Fortunately the parish has some aid money left over from that given to the parish following the last flood. But by Easter, there will probably be need to provide them with further financial assistance. We’ll keep you informed.

Day After the Flood

I was just speaking to Fr Donal McIraith in Ba. He and Serfina Ranadi, Jaime Riquelme and Taaremon Matauea are all well. They are busy looking after the refugees from the floods. Serafina is in charge of the cooking. They managed to get 100kg of rice from the only major store that is open, up in Varadoli area.

Donal went out to view the area and saw that this is definitely the worst flood ever, higher than the previous 2009 record. The whole area, looking out towards Namosau and Yalalevu is totally under water! The water reaches only about 5-6 feet below the parish hall. Like the rest of the town, even Rajendra’s supermarket, which was lifesaver in the last flood, is under water.

Women are swimming up to the parish church from the market “dormitory” where they normally stay when they come to town from Navala and other hill villages for today’s market day. They are being looked after and fed in the parish hall. They are wet and cold and Donal is looking for some spare clothing from the last lot of clothing that was sent to the parish, following the floods in February.

There are no known fatalities, except that the women from the market were concerned about one woman who had a panic attack and started swimming towards the river. They don’t know what has happened to her.

Presently it is high tide and the hope is that the waters will begin to recede soon. But then there is another high tide around midnight. So the worst may not be over yet.

Columban lay missionary Serafina Vuda passed away unexpectedly in May 2014.