In 1959, Petero Mataca was the first ethnic Fijian islander ordained a diocesan priest.
The Columban Fathers, who just a few years earlier had started their mission in Fiji, were with Mataca along every step of his career.
When Mataca was a young seminarian in the mid-1950s, Columban Father Martin Dobey (his former pastor) befriended and advised him. Father Dobey was present for Father Mataca’s ordination in Rome. Father Mataca celebrated his first Mass in the Columban House in Rome.
In December 1974, Father Mataca became auxiliary Bishop of Suva, the capital city of Fiji.
In April 1976, he achieved another groundbreaking step by becoming Archbishop of Suva, the first indigenous Fijian to rise to this office.
During his more than three and a half decades of service in his Episcopal post, Archbishop Mataca never forgot his connection to the Columbans. He presided at the ordinations of Fijian Columban Fathers, and assisted with the development of Columban lay missionaries for Fiji.
Archbishop Mataca died in June 2014, but this great man who the Columbans had influenced, had also influenced the Columbans. His efforts helped to make Fiji one of the great sources of Columban vocations, lay missionaries and charitable work.