Leaving Fiji

Terry Poplava, Parishioner at St Mary the Virgin Mother Parish in Hartsville

As I depart the island of Taveuni and reflect on the experience of the last several days I am grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know the people of Wairiki, Delaivuna, Nawi (on Venua Levu) and Neselesele villages.

The island does have a number of high-end resorts; however, it is very rural and the people in the villages depend primarily on farming for food and catchment containers for water.    There is also work at the resorts for some

     

It was amazing to me to experience the hospitality, community and the faith of the people.    They are educated, speak English and Fijian and they are aware of world events.  The country is mostly Fijian natives, but there are a number of Indian families (such as Baba, our driver from the place we stayed.  His full name is Varun Narayan), and increasingly Chinese.

Much has been accomplished by the people with the support of the Pontifical Mission societies.  Holy Cross church is a 150-year-old monument to the work of the Marist priests.  The concrete walls have been repaired and painted, the roof has been replaced and the ceiling cleaned because of the support of the diocese of Charleston, the work of Msgr. Ed Lofton, and the hands of the people.  The old Sto. Pelasio church was removed and a new one built through the same resources.  St. Joseph church in Nawi is an hour boat ride away.  The church construction is well underway and when you talk with the people there they are very happy to be doing the labor to build the church.  The ground is cleared for a foundation for a church in Delaivuna. The people of the area saved the money to get the land cleared and they are counting on help to build the church.

     

The other impressive factor is the work the Marist missionary priests have done here to build and maintain the Catholic Faith.  From the time they arrived around 1850 at Somosomo to witness cannibalistic tribes, to helping to build strong Catholic communities, to their continued work today, they have been a strong support for the people and a beacon of light for the Catholic Church.  The small group of priests and brothers at Holy Cross parish (and Holy Cross School, called college) lead Holy Cross and 10 other station churches scattered around the island of Taveuni.

     

The Marists on Taveuni, and the people in the villages need our help.  If you live in the Diocese of Charleston, like I do, then consider a gift directly to the Propagation of the Faith office at the diocese.  All of us should give generously to the World Mission fund.  Also pray for strength and guidance for the Marist priests and brothers, and for the people of Taveuni.

Vinaka Vakalevu!

 

Our Mission in Fiji

Communications from our families in Fiji and our 2016 Mission Trip