Fiji villagers thankful for donations from S.C.

Archbishop Peter Loy Chong of Oceania poses with parish leaders in the Village of Nawi, Fiji, after a church blessing Feb. 29. (Provided)

SUMMERVILLE—Archbishop Peter Loy Chong of Oceania blessed a new church for the Village of Nawi, Fiji, located on the island Vanua Levu, in February. The new church was made possible through the generosity of Catholics in South Carolina.

Msgr. Ed Lofton, director of the Propagation of the Faith, who recently returned from a mission trip to Fiji, brought back a thank you letter from church leaders to “the beloved people of South Carolina”. 

The letter states: “On behalf of the parish priest Father Mikaele Marisi, assistant priest Father Fred Kado, the individuals of St. Joseph Catholic Church, Nawi, wish to express our very sincere gratitude and thankfulness for our very stunning church, which you and the beloved parishioners kindly and generously funded. This very unique church is one of a kind. We are very thankful for the kind-hearted people whom I once again say a big thank you and, sending over to each and every one, our deep love and gratitude.”

The church building is approximately 4,000 square feet and has a beautiful teak wood ceiling hand cut from the village’s own forest, Msgr. Lofton wrote in an email to The Miscellany. It took approximately four years to complete and much of the labor was provided by the villagers.

Village leaders, in a special Kava ceremony, presented Msgr. Lofton with a Wasekaseka, a prized honor usually reserved for a chief.  He received a whale’s tooth, which is Fiji’s most valuable traditional object.

The Office of the Propagation of the Faith has completed two new village churches and has recently started construction on a third located on the west end of the island of Taveuni. Construction is slated to be completed this fall.