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A Smart Intermediary

sun shines through stormy clouds

By Fr. Frank Hoare

The mata ni vanua (herald) has an important place in Fijian culture. In the Indo-Fijian culture too, if a problem between two important men is causing trouble to others in the community, one or two intermediaries may be called on. They talk to both parties separately and put pressure on them to reconcile. But today I realized that even European priests and a local community can be helped by a suitable intermediary.

My informant told me that he had attended a meeting of the church committee that went on for most of the day. Some of the Indo-Fijian committee members where quite strong in their views about different matters and they seemed to have annoyed Fr. Theo. One of their leaders put a key question to Fr. Theo and they all sat up attentively waiting for his answer.  But Fr. Theo said nothing. He gave no answer. He remained silent for a long time. 

One of the leaders of the community, who was a big support to the priest, noticed that though Fr. Theo was silent the toes of both his feet were wiggling. The lay leader read this as a sign of great frustration and perhaps anger. So, he turned to the questioner and said, “Fr Theo will think about that question and will give you an answer later!”

Columban Fr. Frank Hoare lives and works in Fiji.

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