Bishop Mafi says it’s a significant year for Tonga with a new government and his Majesty’s coronation

Catholic Bishop Soane Patita Paini Mafi has for the first time publicly paid tribute to the new Prime Minister of Tonga and the new popularly elected Tongan government.

Speaking before his departure for Rome, Bishop Mafi told Tongan Catholics this year was especially important because of the coming coronation of His Majesty King Tupou VI in July.

The bishop will be elevated to the rank of cardinal in a ceremony on Saturday, February 14.

He will become the church’s youngest cardinal.

Bishop Mafi said his grandfather Maletino Mafi was the first young Tongan to travel to Rome when he went there in 1912 with Bishop Joseph Félix Blanc, SM. Blanc, also known as ‘Epikopō Tipanio, was working for the Diocese of Tonga at the time  was appointed bishop. Maletino was taken by the French missionary to help carry his bags, Bishop Mafi said.

Celebration

He reminded his Tongan parishioners and supporters he wanted them to put the spiritual side of his appointment first before any worldly celebration.

Kaniva Pacific understands hundreds of Tongans from Tonga and overseas are travelling to Rome to join the bishop in his ordination.

Bishop Mafi told the committee organising the celebration of his elevation that he did not want them to put a heavy burden on the congregation.

The celebration will be held on April 11 after Lent, which runs from Ash Wednesday (February 18) to Holy Saturday on April 4.

Niue

Bishop Mafi will also be responsible for Niue which he will visit later this year to attend the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Catholic church’s establishment on the island.

He said this was an opportunity for him to meet Niueans after his appointment.

He said there would be one celebration to mark his elevation for the various parishes on Tongatapu. He said the outer islands would have their own celebrations when he visited those parishes.

He also planned to visit Tongan communities in New Zealand, Australia and the United States.

First Catholic school in Tonga

Cardinal Mafi said this year the Catholic Church would celebrate the 150th anniversary of its first school in Tonga.

The Sangato Sitaniselao school was established at ‘Ahopanilolo in Ma’ofanga by Fr Lapase. About 22 years later the school was moved to where ‘Apifo’ou College now stands.

The college celebrated its 125th anniversary in December 2012. It counted its anniversary from the day when the school moved from ‘Ahopanilolo to ‘Apifo’ou.

The first pioneer students of the Sangato Sitaniselao School were among the first civil servants in the government of Tonga, the bishop said.

Bishop Mafi said he benefitted from the work of pioneers like Fr Lapase.

Government of PM Pohiva and King Coronation

Bishop Mafi said this was the first opportunity for him to pay his tribute to the Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva, His Deputy Hon Siaosi Sovaleni and all the cabinet ministers of the new government of Tonga.

He said he wished the first government elected by the people of Tonga all the best and asked that God bring them energy and strength to run the government.

He said this year was important year for Tonga because of the coronation of His Majesty King Tupou VI in July.

He reminded Tongan Catholics that many visitors would be traveling to Tonga this year and he wished the spirit of love to be upon the country while they braced for the king’s coronation.

Bishop Mafi said he would pray for King Tupou VI and the Queen and the whole of Tonga during his elevation in St Peter’s basilica in Rome.

Their Majesties King Tupou VI and Queen Nanasipau’u are currently in Europe and according to reports they will be in Rome to join Bishop Mafi’s elevation.

The main points

  • Catholic Bishop Soane Patita Mafi has for the first time publicly paid tribute to the new Prime Minister of Tonga and the new popularly elected Tongan government.
  • Speaking before his departure for Rome, Bishop Mafi told Tongan Catholics that this year was especially important because of the coming coronation of His Majesty King Tupou VI in July.
  • The bishop will be elevated to the rank of cardinal in a ceremony on Saturday.
  • He will become the church’s youngest cardinal.

For more information

‘Pope Francis casts into the deep to find two cardinals for Oceania’ (Catholic News Agency) 

Pope Francis names new cardinals (Catholic TV)

The Holy See (The Vatican)

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