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Christmas Rush in Fiji

Dashing from One Prayer Meeting to Another!

By Fr. Patrick Colgan

While the rest of the world shops and parties frenetically in December, the people in Fiji busy themselves too – in providing retreats, carol singing and charitable outreaches to the less fortunate. One such day (for the Spiritual Year community of Columban seminarians) was Saturday, December 14, 2019. We began by offering our house for the Legionaries of the Sacred Heart, a men’s group from the Cathedral parish, to have a morning’s recollection, consisting of input, quiet times, confessions and Mass. The men, ranging from early 20s to mid-60s, greatly appreciated a few hours of peace in our rural, forest location. We provided hospitality and food but had to leave them at midday to go the Juvenile Detention Center where 20 teenagers were awaiting us eagerly for their Christmas prayers and counseling.

Christmas rush in FijiAs is our habit, we get them to share a favorite Bible passage and sing songs, before going out to under the trees or sheds for our individual sessions. Most of the boys ask for prayers for their upcoming court appearances, share tough family stories and ask for phone calls home. On this day, we shared soft drinks and chocolate with them, all gleefully devoured! From there (still not having had lunch) we rushed to the Home of Compassion, a nursing facility for the old and infirm, where along with our Fiji Columban Bursar Ms. Lillian Bing and her ukulele group, we regaled the residents with carols, Fijian lullabies and dancing. We also helped feed a number of the patients and then enjoyed a late snack.

After a dash home for a shower, we returned to the city where the Columban Interreligious Dialogue Office had organized a Youth Christmas Program, where members from the Sai Baba, Arya Samaj, Sanatan Dharm (Hindu groups), the Suva Multicultural Center, and three Catholic parishes entertained us with song, nativity plays and more dancing!

After sweeping and cleaning the Cathedral crypt venue, we proceeded home with a number of the youth to celebrate of our seminarians’ 26th birthday. More laughing, singing, and festive kava drinking occupied the hours to midnight when we eventually turned in to get ready for the 7 a.m. Sunday Masses – one (in English) in the local parish and the other (in Fijian) for retired Sisters who live a 20-minute walk away from our house. That walk – already in 86 degree heat at 6:30 a.m. – most certainly sweated out any residual grogginess in me! It was a busy, fulfilling and very Columban type of weekend.

Columban Fr. Patrick Colgan lives and works in Fiji.