Ringing the bells in Wairiki

SUMMERVILLE—For years the bells of Holy Cross parish in Wairiki, Taveuni, Fiji, have been silent.
The once magnificent 1800s church building had fallen into disrepair due to lack of funding, and some people feared the old supporting timbers were weak from age. So as a precaution, the bells were not used.
Thanks to the help of Jason Hubert, a structural engineer and member of St. Theresa the Little Flower Church in Summerville, the bells are back in full swing, according to a press release from the Diocese of Charleston’s Office for the Propagation of the Faith.
Humbert accompanied Msgr. Ed Lofton, diocesan director of the Propagation of the Faith, on a mission trip recently to assess the structural integrity of the bell tower and restore the bells to service. As the bells began to ring, many of the 1,000 children from the parish school came running down to the church to see what was happening. Father Petero, the Marist pastor of Wairiki parish, smiled at the sound.
More good news followed as Msgr. Lofton told Father Petero that a new roof was on the way and would be installed on the old church, thanks to the generosity of a South Carolina priest’s estate and the people of the diocese.
In August of 2014, the parish will celebrate 150 years. Father Petero asked Msgr. Lofton to please thank the people of the diocese for their help in preserving and protecting this historical church.
Hubert also checked on the progress of the new church for the village of Naselesele, which is nearing completion. Hubert said he was impressed with the quality of the hand labor used to construct it, and congratulated the chief and village elders on what they had accomplished.
“Your work is really well done, especially knowing that it was done without the benefit of modern equipment,” Hubert said.
Work began several years ago and the project has been funded by mission appeals throughout the Diocese of Charleston.
“I am always humbled by the generosity of the people of our diocese,” said Msgr. Lofton, “and want to
thank them for taking the call to mission so seriously.”
Msgr. Lofton and his assistant, Helena Moniz, have several more mission appeals planned to complete the project. The village chief and the Diocese of Suva have invited the priest to attend the dedication ceremony of the new church when it is completed.
For more information, call Msgr. Lofton or Moniz in the Office for the Propagation of the Faith, (843) 875-5002.