Perth group reaches across the ocean to help struggling Fijian seminary
By Robert Hiini
On Sunday November 23, the feast of Christ the King, members of the Voice of the Voiceless, a ministry set up to support seminarians, priests and religious, made a pilgrimage to New Norcia to hear about and assist a struggling seminary in the pacific nation of Fiji.
Over 50 members of the ministry heard from their guest, Moira Selvage, a retired teacher from England who has been volunteer-teaching with the Columbian Order since her retirement in 2006; teaching in China and Fiji.
Whilst in Fiji she made contact with seminarians in Suva at the Pacific Regional Seminary (PRS) of St. Peter Chanel which was established in 1972 and has since grown from 18 students to 111.
Students hail from Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Tahiti, Wallis and Fortuna, Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia.
She says that some of the seminarians have given up careers in banking, even as professional musicians to become priests with some studying to be priests in such orders as the Columban Missionaries, the Vincentians, and Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, the Marists, and the Salesians of Don Bosco.
In its short life, PRS has produced four bishops: Bishop Amando of the Caroline Islands, Bishop Michel of Vanuata who sadly passed away in 2007, Archbishop Alapati of Samoa and the most recently, Bishop Soane of Tonga.
Before Ms Selvage’s talk, Father Nicholas Nweke celebrated Mass, assisted by Deacon Bonaventure Echeta in the beautiful chapel of New Norcia’s St Ildephonsus College.
PRS students were chosen to conduct the Gospel procession in the final Mass at World Youth Day in Sydney this year. In honour of Our Lord, they danced and sang in true Fijian custom. PRS students are also well known for their harmonized renditions of hymns and other Mass parts.
After the Mass, the Voice of the Voiceless Ministry presented Ms Selvage with a donation of $800 to pass on to the Rector of the PRS to help with its upkeep.
Ms Selvage says that, like most seminaries, “funds are always needed to maintain the education and formation of God’s chosen shepherds”: staff are required, building extensions, maintenance and the updating of information technology.
“So thank you Heavenly Father for all your Graces and Blessings you bestow on us all daily. Thank you Voice of the Voiceless for your wonderful work in your ministry in supporting seminaries, seminarians and retired priests.”
The ministry’s founder, Fr Nicholas Nweke, Parish Priest of Corrigin/Kulin says that their donation was the first of many they hope to make to struggling seminaries and seminarians throughout the world.
Fr Nweke is well acquainted with the difficulties experienced by seminarians, particularly those studying in countries other than their own telling The Record in March about his joy at meeting Archbishop Barry Hickey in Rome where he went to study from his native Nigeria.
The next Voice of the Voiceless initiative is a Mass and “get together” for retired clergy of the archdiocese which will be held at Our Lady’s Assumption Parish in Dianella at 11am on February 21 next year, with all retired priests welcome.
For more information about the Voice of the Voiceless Ministry contact
Fr Nicholas Nweke on 0403 577 074