The general administration recognizes the general growth of the local MSC’s in the Central Pacific and thus, in 1988, made a decision to be separated from PNG. The new region is named ‘Pacific Union’. On May 10th, 1988 the Pacific Union was officially erected, and with its administration house established in Tarawa, Kiribati. At this time the Pre-Novitiate and Novitiate houses was already established in Kiribati. Philosophy and theology houses of studies were in Fiji.
Growth and Expansion
The opening of the Union to a wider presence in Oceania became evident, that in 1997, the administration house and all formation houses were transferred from Kiribati to Fiji. This decision was made because of the strategic location of Fiji in the South Pacific. Besides its accessibility, there are more resources in Fiji than in Kiribati. The diverse ethnic cultural communities in Fiji provide more opportunity for exposure and pastoral apostolates. Moreover, the availability of secular institutes available in Fiji such as the teachers colleges and vocational trade institutes give more room for the Brothers’ On-Going formation. The transfer of administration and formation houses to Fiji meant that for the first time the MSC presence was no longer cantered only in Kiribati. It challenged the members in discerning to look at the future with the sense of hope that will benefit the society and the church.
MSC Formation House
In 1998, the relocation of the philosophy and theology house took place from the Pacific Regional Seminary campus to Wailoku, outside Suva. This serves as a permanent formation houses for Post-Novitiate scholasticates and for the Brothers’. The Formation House in Wailoku was finally opened by His Grace, Petero Mataca, and the centre was blessed by Fr Josef Geeurickx, the Assistant General on the 17th October, 1998. The new novitiate was recently opened at Wainadoi, outside Suva, on December 8, 1997, with the Pre-Novitiate also established in the same area.
The land availability of these new places gives the opportunity for formandii’s to exercise a sense of self-sufficiency in planting their own food. This also gives them a sense of team building in working together. Since the establishment of the Formation House in Wailoku, the students have sustained themselves with fresh vegetables and root-crops such as dalo and cassava as part of their healthy diet. The surplus from these planting was sold to nearby villagers. It helped the students to have the sense of accountability and self-reliant, an essence of their formation that embraces self belonging and community life.
With the people from nearby villages attending Sunday Eucharist, the students sensed an approach to their pastoral exposure. They engage Sunday religious classes to the children. They would also conducted sports-fest and have BBQ. It made our presence felt and at the same time, spreading our charism of love and compassion. This has been the successful aspect of our reaching out to the people.
Since the establishment of the Formation House in Wailoku, there have been four superiors working tirelessly with the formation of the scholastics, namely, Fr Roy O’Neal (Australia), Fr Ioane Sigarara (Fiji), Fr Douglas Smith (Australia), and Tarsis Winghosamatro (Indonesia). Under the guidance of these four people, we can proudly say that they have laid the foundation of future MSC priests and brothers for the Pacific Union. Many have ordained to priests and have taken their final vows respectively, and are working in the Pacific Union and outside the Pacific Union. Fr Joseph Kanimea, the current superior of the Formation house has 16 students. There are two for brotherhood and fourteen for priesthood. Three of these students are preparing for their Diaconate Ordination on the 26th April, 2009. One student is doing his pastoral in Veivatuloa Parish and one is a candidate for Perpetual Profession.
With the current statistics of our formadii’s, we are experiencing a growth of vocations. At present we have seven novices and eight pre-novices. These young men come from the different parts of the Pacific Union, namely, Kiribati, Wallis et Futuna, Samoa and Fiji. We see this as the blessing of God and we hope and pray that many young Pacifican men continue to give their lives generously to the church and God.
With all formation and administration houses situated in Fiji, there is a ‘smoothness-felt’ in working together in one country rather than having formation and administration houses in different locations in two different countries. The growth and expansion slowly took place and the charism of MSC found its way to other countries in the Pacific. The universality of its mission-oriented started to root out in Melanesia, Micronesia and lately to Polynesia. With the existing parishes already established in Kiribati, Nauru, and Fiji, the Pacific Union was able to work in Samoa, Marshall Islands, and in Chuuk Island, Federated States of Micronesia. It was a dream of Fr. Chevalier to have his missionaries proclaim the loving Heart of God everywhere, started to take place and planted in the shores of the South Pacific.
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