The Angelus Bell

By Fr. Frank Hoare

Notes from a Missionary's Diary

I am half way through my two months stay in Nacemaki Village after my course in the Fijian language. The villagers are very welcoming and friendly. I eat with different families every day. I swim, go to the gardens occasionally, and I have visited the koro makawa (earlier site of the village). Best of all, I have the opportunity to say Mass in Fijian every evening and to preach at Mass on Sundays.

Almost every night I can join a grog session and do my best to share in the discussion. There is one tevoro (devil) here though. He loves to ask me in front of the group to discuss my visit to Israel and the holy places.  He does this after midnight when I am just ready to excuse myself to go to bed. That gets me into a prolonged story with many questions to answer. The guy who set me up has, in the meantime, slipped away laughing at catching me out again. It is after 1:00 a.m. when I stumble to my room.

The problem then is that Felise, the faithful catechist, rings the angelus bell just outside my room every morning at 5:30 a.m. I have tried to reason with him:

“Felise, maybe you don’t need to ring the angelus bell in the morning; every evening would do fine!”

“Father, you know well that the angelus bell is rung three times a day, morning, noon and evening.”

“But 5:30 a.m. is too early, Felise. At least wait until 6:00 a.m. That is the proper time.”

“I have to ring the bell early so that the school children get up early to reach school in time.”

“But Felise, this is holiday time. The children aren’t going to school these days.”

“Father. Na ka au sa lewa, au sa lewa! (What I have decided, is decided!).”

End of argument.

Columban Fr. Frank Hoare lives and works in Fiji.

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