The Catholic Church in Fiji gathered recently to farewell Archbishop Petero Mataca who was Bishop of Fiji for two years and Archbishop for thirty six years till his retirement in 2012. Two archbishops, four bishops and 50 priests from the Oceania region and Fiji conducted the vigil and resurrection masses for the late archbishop held on Friday 11th July. During the days prior to the funeral the reguregu (cultural expression of condolences) and veiqaravi (presentations) for Archbishop Petero took place at the Immaculate Conception Parish in Lami.
The Marist Sisters in Fiji will never forget Archbishop Mataca. For years he has shown appreciation for our Marist Mission, the Work of Mary in Fiji. From the beginning he was always interested and supportive of our ministry of education – particularly encouraging of our foundation in the Yasawas from where he originated.
The Archbishop often requested the assistance of the Marist Sisters in a variety of ministries. These included work with youth in a number of parishes, participating on the original CORAS team initiated by him, working at the Catechist Centre, in the Catholic Education Office and in Corpus Christi Teachers’ College, as well as providing outreach to the Indian people – he even sent one of our Sisters to India for a year to deepen her understanding of language and culture.
In his turn, the Archbishop was generous to our Sisters and always prepared to help. When the Sisters needed to build a novitiate, the Archbishop gave the land at Wailekutu, near Lami, which later became the Nazareth Prayer Centre. In earlier years he often called in to Lami just to have a chat over a cup of tea, discussing anything from the latest developments in education to the welfare and whereabouts of all the Sisters. When invited to preside over official ceremonies, he showed a ready willingness to accept.
Our Sisters hold fond memories of the Archbishop and offer deep gratitude to God for his heartening support of them throughout his ministry of leadership within the Fijian Church.
(Picture: Fiji Times)