After the Second Vatican Council reforms, the Catholic vicariates of the numerous South Pacific island nations became official dioceses, and the number of vocations in the region began to increase.
In response, in the early 1970s, the Episcopal Conference of the South Pacific, made the decision to establish a seminary on the island nation of Fiji, one of the Columban mission countries.
In mid-1972, an informal seminary opened in the Bishop’s Quarters in downtown Suva, the capital city of Fiji. In 1973, the Pacific Regional Seminary, or PRS, opened its doors in a new scenic location overlooking Suva Bay.
Protestant and Catholic missionaries had evangelized the region of the South Pacific known as Oceania relatively recently, so the peoples were still responding to and learning about the Christian message. Seminarians entered PRS from nations all over Oceania, and the Columbans were a part of the new seminary from the beginning.
Columban Father Dermot P. Hurley was one of the first Spiritual Directors of PRS. Early on, Columban Father Gerald McNicholas taught Church History there. Numerous other Columbans have taught and served at PRS including Columban Fr. Charlie Duster who taught Church Law at PRS for many years.
In the late 1980s, a young Fijian seminarian, Ioane Gukibau, entered PRS, and in December 1994 was ordained a Columban Father, one of the first Fijian Columbans.
Father Gukibau has served in Peru, Australia and Brazil, completed graduate studies in Rome, and continues to teach at PRS and mentor Columban seminarians there.
Other Columban ordinations from Oceania would follow in the coming years, many of whom studied at PRS.
The Pacific Regional Seminary, while not exclusively a Columban institution, has served as a linchpin for the Columban mission in Oceania.