Samoa Gathering 19-25 November 2018
The first ever gathering of Sisters of Mercy from the Asia Pacific region arose from two strands – firstly, from a regional meeting of Asia Pacific Sisters of Mercy Leaders in 2017 and, secondly, from a desire to build on what has been learnt from the Mercy International Reflection Process (MIRP). Three main ongoing purposes underpinned our gathering:
1. To deepen understanding of the reality in the Asia Pacific region of the two MIRP directions of Degradation of Earth and Displacement of People.
3. To strengthen our relationship in this region with Mercy Global Presence at our United Nations Organisation office and from the Asia Pacific region to support our Mercy ministry there.
Front Row L-R: Schola Fakiwi rsm (Papua New Guinea ISMAPNG), Malia Simeone rsm (Tonga), Judith Moroney rsm (Leadership Team, Aotearoa New Zealand), Marian Arroyo rsm (Guam USA), Marge Alamban rsm (Philippines Ireland), Malia Fetuli rsm (Samoa), Salome Loane rsm (Samoa), Anne McGuire rsm (Australia ISMAPNG), Maria Lawton rsm (Australia), Bridget Crisp rsm (Aotearoa New Zealand)
Our Mercy Asia Pacific gathering was the first meeting in Samoa of faith-based people coming together on climate change and displacement of peoples. Archbishop Alapati Lui Mata’eliga acknowledged this by his presence at Samoan Welcome Ava Ceremony and by inviting us to a special Sunday Vigil Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at which he presided. Our three quest speakers expressed appreciation of the significance of our gathering and they were delighted to be invited to speak.
Those who gathered are grateful for the vision of our regional leaders, and especially Katrina Fabish rsm who was unable to be present, who initiated this gathering. The dedicated and hard-working planning committee made the gathering possible. Malia Fetuli rsm and Salome Loane rsm were outstanding in all things related to our time in Samoa - the venue, the welcome, hospitality, visits to regions, speakers and transport. The contributions of Maryanne Loughry rsm and Richard Kerr-Bell were greatly appreciated.
For our personal and communal prayer and reflection, we drew on the daily Reflection Series prepared by Veronica Lawson rsm. These linked us to the gospel of the day, MIRP and the recently produced MIRP Guide for Using the Process and the Themes of Laudato Si’, On Care for Our Common Home. Each region prepared a morning prayer time.
Australia: Maria Lawton rsm, Maryanne Loughry rsm, Anne McGuire rsm, Ms Ellen Geraghty
Guam: Marian Arroyo rsm
Aotearoa New Zealand: Bridget Crisp rsm, Kathleen Rushton rsm
Papua New Guinea: Schola Fakiwi rsm, Rachel Waisman rsm
Philippines: Patrocinia Angay rsm, Jean Delgado rsm, Marge Alamban rsm, Corazon Basadre rsm
Samoa:S Malia Fetuli rsm, Marieta Ifopo rsm, Salome Loane rsm
Tonga: Malia Simeone rsm, Fe’ao Kautai rsm
Supported by: Judith Moroney rsm, Leadership Team Sisters of Mercy Aotearoa New Zealand Facilitator: Richard Kerr-Bell, Kaihautu Wairua-Mission Leader, Sisters of Mercy Aotearoa New Zealand. Mr Sanjay Theodore assisted with film.
The setting of St Therese Retreat Centre where we gathered is very attractive.
Ava O Le Feiloaga(‘Kava’)/Samoan Welcome Ava Ceremony
The warm hospitality and welcome of our Sisters in Samoa have surrounded us. We were inserted further into their life and community during the ‘ava’ or kava ceremony. During this ancient ritual which is performed at the beginning of all important gatherings, we were supported by the Chief of Leulumoega village, Leiataua Iosefo who has a long association with the Sisters of Mercy. His father welcomed the first Sisters in 1972. Archbishop Alapati Lui Mata’eliga presided. The fourth-year students of Moamoa Theological College, where Malia Fetuli rsm teaches, participated in this moving ceremony. We were treated to a lively Faafiafaiga (cultural performance) by St. Joan of Arc Primary School, a Mercy school where Marieta Ifopo rsm and Malia Fetuli rsm teach.
Messages to: Kathleen Rushton rsm