Inauguration of St. John Bosco Parish Fiji, Archdiocese of Suva
Suva, Fiji, 19 November 2017 -- The inauguration Mass and celebration of the new parish was held on Sunday, November 19, 2017 at the St Joseph the Worker Primary School Hall beginning at 9.00a.m. The theme of the day was “A celebration of History for the Salesians Community” as the first stone lay down for the beginning of a new parish namely St. John Bosco of Makoi/Laqere/Wainibuku. A crowd of over 1000 came for the inaugural Eucharistic celebration including priests, religious Brothers and Sisters from the Archdiocese of Suva. Archbishop Peter Loy Chong, the main celebrant, began his homily by thanking the Salesians for opening this new parish for the people of Archdiocese. In his homily, the Archbishop spoke of the three foundations of the Catholic Church and how they help in leading the people to God and govern the people in love. The first and foremost is Jesus Christ; secondly is the word of God and lastly the people of God. He urged us to keep remembering the mission and vision of our founder Don Bosco as an example for us to guide our new parish mission especially the young ones. Within the same Eucharistic celebration, Fr Mika Leilua, SDB, the Provincial and Council appointee was installed as the first Parish Priest of the St John Bosco Parish, Fiji.
Fr. Petelo Vito Pau representative of the Provincial and his council also present as a delegate of the Pacific gave a vote of thanks on behalf of the Salesian Congregation. He thanked the Archbishop for the golden opportunity that allows the Salesians to have this parish which a dream come true for us Salesians. He assured the Archbishop that the Salesian community under the leadership of Fr Mika Leilua the newly installed parish priest, will offer all the help that we can in serving the Archdiocese of Suva, especially for the people of the new parish. We as a Salesians will work in partnership with the Archdiocese of Suva in serving the people of God in whatever way we can in building the kingdom of God in our mission. The celebration continued with a procession from the Hall to the site led by the Archbishop and everyone followed, after which the Sunday school students sung the hymn to Don Bosco as the procession made its way from the hall to the new site. The Archbishop then blessed the headstone which marks the beginning of the new parish then blessed the site followed by the usual photo shooting sessions to commemorate and to record this momentous event.
As usual in our Pacific tradition, we keep the spirit of the celebrations with big feast. Before the great feast, the celebration began with the Fijian traditional Kava Ceremony which is called ‘Seveusevu’ which marks the beginning of any ceremony. During the Sevusevu, the Archbishop of Fiji Peter Loy Chong present a tabua to Fr Mika Leilua marking the covenant between the Archdiocese of Suva and the Saleisans Congregation also marks the beginning of the new Parish entrusted to our care. The tabua/kamunaga (whale's tooth) is the most important item in the iTaukei custom. A tabua is a polished tooth of a sperm whale that is an important cultural item in Fijian society. They were traditionally given as gifts for atonement or esteem (called sevusevu), and were important in negotiations between rival chiefs. The gifting and exchange of tabua was a serious business and the recipient was bound by tradition to honour the accompanying request. Today, tabua continue to be valued by Fijians, and are still ritually exchanged at a range of events and ceremonies.
Then followed by a great feast of food where everyone who attended was invited to join in celebration of a great historical event for our Salesians present in Fiji. It was indeed a great event, where people from our new parish partake and especially the young people showed an impressive spirit and they were quite impressive too. They had a thirst to learn and know more about out founder and his teaching. We are looking forward to working together with them, especially leading the young people to Jesus through the charism of our Founder St. John Bosco.