From left, Bernard, Fr. Pat and Bobby
A New Family

By Fr. Patrick Colgan

Atil Kumar Singh (aka Bobby) is an Indo-Fijian carpenter who lives beside a Fijian village called Natunuku, in the parish of Christ the King, Ba. He was a Hindu and married an Indian woman, a relationship which produced one son but broke up after a couple of years. He then married an ethnic Fijian woman from Natunuku, who is the sister of our parish catechist there, Mr. Savenaca Nakuturi. They also broke up, after the sad death of their child. In this sadness, it was the support of the Fijian Catholic community and their persistent invitations to Bobby to come to church and their social gatherings, which kept him sane and kindled an interest in him to consider leaving the religion of his parents and become a Christian. For fifteen years, he came to church, barely understanding the words of the liturgy spoken in standard Fijian. He speaks Hindi and the Ba dialect of Fijian. He also does not read or write well so couldn’t follow the texts easily. But he hung in and on my arrival in the parish in June 2020, and noticing the unusual sight of an Indo Fijian attending our village liturgies, I invited him to consider joining the RCIA program to be baptized. He accepted and with the help of an Indo Fijian school teacher, Mr. Bernard Saverio, we were able to teach Bobby the basics of the faith. What he might not know through book learning, he more than makes up for by faith and enthusiasm for his new family and church.

The Church before the baptism
The Church before the baptism

This is what Bernard said of their classes together: “This was an enlightening experience. I have never met such a candidate before. He was so eager and made my teaching enjoyable It was never a burden, in fact I looked forward to every class.”

The village catechist, his brother-in-law said: “After Bobby’s divorce with my sister, he was very lonely. We kept inviting him home and to church. We are close. He was coming to Mass for fifteen years, but only in the last year, got really enthusiastic about it.”

The final word goes to Bobby himself: “I am so happy today. This has been a blessing. My tavale (brother-in-law) and Master have taught me everything. As long as I live, I will follow this Church. This is my family now.”

Atil Singh Kumar (aka Bobby) was baptized, confirmed and received into full communion of the Catholic Church on the Feast of the Holy Family, December 27, 2020, by Columban Fr. Patrick Colgan.

Columban Fr. Patrick Colgan lives and works in Fiji.