In August last year, I arrived at St. John the Apostle Parish in Natovi, Fiji, to begin my ministry, where, among other things I would help facilitate church programs, village activities, and bi-monthly Mass visitations.
It started, really, with an invitation from catechist Tobia to come and talk about the Marian Movement of Priests. I checked with the pastor, Fr.
Fiji has the highest incidence of diabetes in the world. More than one third of the population suffers from it. It is a lifestyle disease. Fijian men were able to eat big meals of local root crops and vegetables in the past, because they walked a lot and worked hard in their gardens. But nowadays most get transported around and live sedentary lives while eating processed foods as heartily as before.
Returning home for a seminary break is interesting. I usually see it as a great time for relaxation and enjoyment. But I have discovered that it is more than that.
Being a stranger in a foreign land wasn’t always easy, in terms of learning and adopting their respective culture and of course the same goes with the dialect that they speak. That was what came to my mind even before I landed in Fiji.
Chased from his parish by a volcano! That is the story of Fr. Laurence Lulkon. Little did I think when I taught Laurence as a seminarian in Fiji that I was preparing him to deal with volcanoes.
Then a young priest, I was appointed in 1975 to the islands of Kadavu, Fiji, which is about 60 miles from the capital of Suva. Over the years, Kadavu had not been well served. There were not enough priests, and so parishioners were visited only once in a while.
The catechumenate is the period of preparation for baptism that adults go through. The Catholic Church reinstated the catechumenate or Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) after the second Vatican Council.
One of the many joys of being a Columban lay missionary is the joy of entering into a new culture and sharing my faith and experience with the people, while at the same time learning so much more from them in return.
Danger at Sea
I arrived in Fiji as a Columban lay missionary in August 2017. Once in Fiji, I studied the language for three months. Studying a new language for the first time in my whole life was not an easy task for me! I’m so thankful that with Gods’ providence, I was able to manage and survive it!
Being a stranger in a foreign land wasn’t always easy, in terms of learning and adopting not only the language and local dialect but also the culture.
Losana Ve'ehala of Tonga passed away unexpectedly at the Columban lay missionary house in Suva, Fiji, on Sunday, December 10, 2017. Tongan Fr. Taukei, in his homily at the house, asked us "Why did she die in Suva, why did she die with the Columbans?"
Fr. Donal McIlraithJuly 16, 2018
It was a personal joy for me to attend the ordination of Pat Roland Visanti in Suva on St. Columban's Day 2017. It coincided with the opening of the Society's Centennial Year.
Fr. Donal McIlraithJuly 10, 2018