DIVINE MERCY IN OCEANIA
OCEANIA APOSTOLIC CONGRESS ON MERCY (OACOM)
HELD IN APIA-SAMOA
15-20 JULY 2009
Brief Report on OACOM & UPDATES
Developments from the 1st WORLD APOSTOLIC CONGRESS ON MERCY (WACOM) held in Rome from 2-6 April 2008 required all country members that participated to return home and organize Continental Congresses for each region. This was an endeavour to continue light the fire of mercy in the four corners of the earth and pass on the message of “hope” for mankind and peace for the world through the Divine Mercy of God.
The first Regional Congress held was the Oceania Apostolic Congress on Mercy (OACOM) from 15the July – 20th July 2009, hosted by the Archdiocese of Samoa-Apia, through the concerted effort of the Divine Mercy Body in Samoa. Country members present included Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, Solomon Islands, American Samoa, and members from other countries such as Hawaii, USA, the delegation from the Philippines, and the team from France and Barcelona, Spain, and all Divine Mercy Cenacles of the host country, Samoa.
The Congress theme “Mercy, the True face of God in Oceania” was derived from the Papal Exhortation and Post Synodal Document “Ecclesia in Oceania” a renewal which comes from contemplation of the face of Christ. “Jesus Christ and the Peoples of Oceania, Walking His Way, Telling His Truth, and Living His Life”
The Congress was carried out for 5 days and though prominence was given to the 3 days from Thursday 16th July–to Saturday 18th on the triple dimension of “The Mystery of Mercy” the Church’s Treasure, “Mercy for the Church’s Communion”, and “Mercy for the Church’s Mission”, all other conferences and sharings were centered on these same themes. Additionally, each Mass throughout the 5 days had a special intention i.e. for Wednesday 15 “Come Holy Spirit”, Thursday 16th “Divine Mercy Love of the Father”, Friday 17th “Jesus is Divine Mercy”, Saturday 18th “Mary Mother of Divine Mercy, and Monday 20th July the final day, “ Sending on Mission”.
The Divine Mercy Asia Secretariat, Manila Office, prepared the Congress theme because at that time Oceania was under the coordination of Rev.Monsignor Josephino S. Ramirez Continental Coordinator for WACOM Asia & Oceania with Mary Anawim as Secretary General. The Topics and the Activities Program for the 5 days of the congress were selected and prepared by the then Ad Hoc Committee for the OACOM with Asst. Coordinator to Msgr. Josefino Ramirez for Oceania Lesina Levy of DM Samoa under the guidance and endorsement of his Grace Archbishop Alapati L. Mataeliga, Archbishop of Samoa-Apia.
Wednesday 15 July 2010
1st Day – Immaculate Conception Cathedral-Mulivai, Apia
Early morning Praising by DM Cenacles from 8.30am (15mins)
Prior to the start of the Congress Fr Spatz Silva, Secretary to the Archbishop of Samoa-Apia extended on behalf of His Grace Archbishop Alapati L.Mataeliga warm greetings to our guests of honor from overseas Fr Patrice Chocolski Secretary General & Coordinator for WACOM from the Parish of Ars, France and his team from France and Barcelona, Spain, Ms.Mary Anawim Secretary General Asia & Oceania from the Philippines, and all the Delegations from the various countries in Oceania. Special greetings extended to delegations from other Regions/Continents like the delegation from the Philippines, USA, and those from Hawaii who came all the way to witness the 1st Divine Mercy Congress in Oceania and the local dignitaries. A message of Greetings and Blessings from the President of WACOM His Eminence Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Austria delivered by Fr Patrice Secretary General & Coordinator WACOM.
The Official Opening of the 1st Regional Congress on Divine Mercy in the world.
At 9.00am in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Mulivai, Apia, Samoa, His Grace Archbishop Alapati L.Mataeliga celebrated a Cultural Mass to mark the official opening of the 1stOceanian Apostolic Congress on Mercy for the Oceania Region. Fr Patrice Chocolski and Monsignor William G.Middleton from the Diocese of Christchurch, New Zealand presided, and about 60 Priests from different countries of the region such as Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, American Samoa, Solomon Islands, the delegation of Priests from the Philippines and 40 local Priests. Among the concelebrants were the 2 DM Spiritual Directors, one for the Island of Upolu and the other for the Island of Savaii who performed the “Ifoga”. The 2 Samoan Priests & Spiritual Directors performed the “Ifoga” (plead for mercy/clemency) at the beginning of the Mass for all of Oceania and the whole world in the cultural manner before they could join the rest of the Priests to concelebrate Mass (This is the highest form of plead for mercy/pardon performed in the cultural manner which clearly highlights the true mercy of God for His people).
We were also graced with the presence of the Head of States His Highness Tama a Aiga Tupua Tamasese Efi and (“Masiofo”) Filia the 1st Lady, the Deputy Head of States Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa and Masiofo”, Rev.Oka Fauolo & Faletua, Chairman of the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Samoa, various dignitaries from other church denominations, Members of Parliament and members of the business community. After Mass all the guests and delegates were asked to join in the “Ava” Ceremony to welcome each and everyone, in the traditional manner at the adjacent building followed by lunch prepared by DMSamoa for all, the Religious, Delegates, and everyone present even the local members. After lunch, relaxation time until 6.00pm for Evangelization at St Ann’s Minor Basilica.
Wednesday 15 July 2010 6.00pm
Evening Evangelization –Minor Basilica St Ann Leulumoega.
Evangelization, singing, praising, testimonies, and spiritual items performed by the various DM Cenacles from the different participating countries in Oceania. Monsignor Etuale Etuale Parish Priest for the Minor Basilica of St Ann proclaimed the Word followed by a moving sermon focusing on the topic of the day and closing off with Benediction. During singing and praising confessions were heard by a team of local Priests located at the various corners of the gardens. Transportation to and from Leulumoega to accommodations for all visitors was provided by DM Samoa, and refreshments prepared by the Leulumoega Parish with assistance from the DM Samoa Food Committee.
Thursday 16 July 2010
2nd Day Cathedral Immaculate Conception
Praising from DM Cenacles from 8.30am
The 2nd day of the Congress after praising, Mass started at 9.00am, celebrated by Fr. Line Folaumoeloa from the Diocese of Tonga, presided by His Grace Archbishop Alapati L.Mataeliga and Fr Patrice Chocolski, concelebrated by close to 50 Priests, local and visitors. After Mass the 3 conferences were heard, the 1st given by Fr Patrice Chocolski focusing on “Hope for the People of Oceania” highlighting the theme of the day, “The Mystery of Mercy, the Church’s Treasure”, followed by two conferences one by John Fowler of Melbourne, Australia & another by Mr Pat Barrett of Christchurch, New Zealand until lunch break. At 3.00pm the singing of the Chaplet followed by the last conference of the day on “Mercy in the Scriptures”. A very enriching sharing by Fr Line Folaumoeloa of Tonga on the mercy of God throughout scripture.
St Theresa Hall – Pastoral/Cultural Hall Leauvaa
Further Evangelization, Spiritual Singing & dancing, testimonies inspired the delegates and all those present at St Theresa Hall at Leauvaa, the Pastoral & Cultural Centre of the Church. A team of local Priests also heard confessions. Benediction was offered by Fr Nimo Peseta Vicar General for the island of Savaii. Refreshments prepared by the main DM Samoa (Food Committee) assisted by DM Cenacles at Leauvaa.
Friday 17 July 2010
3rd Day Cathedral Immaculate Conception
Praising from 8.30am
Mass commenced at 9.00am celebrated by Monsignor William G. Middleton of Christchurch, NZ, presided by His Grace Archbishop Alapati L.Mataeligaa and Fr Patrice Chocolski, and concelebrated by about 50 Priests. After Mass a couple of inspirational conferences highlighting the theme of the day “the Church’s Communion” followed by lunch break. After singing the Chaplet at 3.00pm the delegates separated into two groups. All English delegates moved to the “Fetuolemoana”Hall adjacent the Cathedral for their Conference, Workshop, on the topic of “Hopes & Concerns in His Merciful Love (in the English language) led by Fr Patrice Chocolski assisted Ms.Mary Anawim Secretary General Asia/Oceania (in the absence of Rev. Monsignor .Iosefino S. Ramirez Continental Coordinator for Asia/Oceania. Ms.Mary Anawim presented an informative power point presentation of the corporal works of mercy in Asia focusing on the Philippines. The Samoan speaking delegates remained at the Cathedral and led by Fr Penitito Mauga shared a true life experience on the same topic in the Samoan language, was applauded by all.
The Shrine of the Three Hearts, Vaoala
At about 5.00pm all delegates were transported to The Shrine of the Three Hearts, Vaoala, for the evening program. (This is also the place of residence of His Grace) Praising/singing, candle light procession around the different altars of the Shrine with very inspirational sermons given by the Priests there. The team of local Priests also heard confessions. In conclusion we had benediction followed by refreshments provided by the Shrine of the Three Hearts Parish.
Saturday 18 July 2010
4th Day Cathedral Immaculate Conception
Holy Mass started at 9.00am celebrated by Rev. Fr.Patrice Chocolski-Secretary General WACOM presided by His Grace Archbishop Alapati L.Mata’eliga and Fr Line Folaumoeloa of Tonga, concelebrated by another group of about 50 Priests. The highlight for this day was on “Mercy for the Church’s Mission and Rev. Monsignor Etuale Lealofi Dr. of Canon Law and Priest of the Diocese of Pago Pago, American Samoa relate in a vivid and inspirational manner this conference. After Mass another inspirational conference given by Mr. John Canavan, Lay Coordinator for DM Australia & Director of Divine Mercy Publications Pty.Ltd, Melbourne, Australia. Before breaking for lunch the Relic of St Faustina was made available for everyone to receive blessings from. Another grace filled day.
Saturday Evening 18 July 2010
All overseas delegations were invited to dinner by His Grace Archbishop Alapati L.Mataeliga up at the Shrine of the Three Hearts. Entertainment provided by the Parish Youth.
Sunday 19 July 2010
For Sunday morning all the visiting Priests were allocated to different Parishes in Upolu to say Mass there and was to accompany by one’s delegation. Transport to and from were also arranged. Lunch was still made available for everyone at Fetuolemoana should they wish to join the group in the afternoon.
Sunday afternoon 2.00pm
Procession from 3 locations :
The 1st procession came from the most far west side of town heading towards the centre of Apia and to the Government House. Members of this procession comprised of DMCenacles from that zone, Ministers of the Word, and most of the Youth Groups marched from here bringing the Bible, and an Image of Divine Mercy proclaiming the “Word” and the “Mercy of God” for everyone.
The 2nd Procession led by the Church Youth Band came from the “Our Lady of the Mountain Parish” Mount Vaea, Palisi carrying the Statue of Our Lady, and the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, and an Image of Divine Mercy, marched towards the centre of town. The procession comprises of DM Cenacles from various villages, Devotional Groups of Our Lady, St Ann, the Charismatic, Ministers of the Eucharist etc, the Priests and His Grace Archbishop Alapati L.Mataeliga. A clear and loud proclamation of the true presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and “Mary the Mother of Mercy”.
The 3rd Procession which carried a Life size Divine Mercy Image & Banners of other Devotional groups & Flags of countries participating came from the farthest eastern side of town parading across the beach road heading towards the same destination in front of the Government building. From here a platform was raised and an altar prepared for the service that afternoon. In all, it was an evangelization not only for the country but also for Oceania and the world at large. Songs of praise, proclamation of the Gospel, sermon was given by the Vicar General of Upolu Island, Fr Penitito Mauga, and Parish Priest for Our Lady of the Mountain Parish. An item of praises by Sr Faustina was performed by a Cenacle of children and young DM members of Moamoa Cenacle all dressed in the habit of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy. The finale was the dance of Lady followed by benediction ending the evening. A clear introduction of “Sending on Mission”
Monday 20 July 2010
6th Day Morning 8.30am Praising
The finale of the Congress and the closing Mass was officiated by His Grace Archbishop Alapati L. Mataeliga and presided by Fr Patrice Chocolski and Fr Line Folaumoeloa of Tonga. The group of 50 Priests including Msgr. Etuale Lealofi from Pago, Am.Samoa continued to concelebrate. Focus was placed on the intention that day of “Sending on Mission”, a challenge for everyone with more emphasis placed on the Youth as the hope of the church in the continuation of the work of the Lord, “Making Disciples of all Nations”, and proclaiming the mercy of God as the last hope of mankind, hence their participation singing Mass by their Youth Choir, the readings etc. After Mass gifts were presented in the traditional manner in accordance with the culture of each participating country for His Grace Archbishop Alapati L.Mataeliga and the Diocese of Samoa-Apia and in return His Grace through DM Samoa presented gifts to the guests of honor Fr Patrice Chocolski and his team, Ms.Mary Anawim and all delegations from the different countries.
Ø Announcements on 20 July 2010 for Oceania
After the presentation of gifts Fr Patrice Chocolski Secretary General/Coordinator WACOM acknowledged with much gratitude the preparations and the Congress program throughout the 5 days. He then relayed the following announcements duly confirmed by the President of WACOM His Eminence Cardinal Christoph Schonborn that Oceania will not be attached to Asia Region anymore. His Grace Archbishop Alapati L. Mataeliga, DD, Archbishop of Samoa-Apia has since been appointed Continental Coordinator for D.M Oceania, Samoa-Apia Office, together with several other appointments for Oceania. (Refer Flow Chart on separate page)
Participation at the Congress
The Congress was participated by close to 2000 people on the first day and continued throughout the week at the different Evangelization sites in the evenings. For overseas visitors we hosted about 500 delegates from the various countries of Oceania, and for the processions on Sunday 19 July 2009 close to 4000 people participated by all walks life since the program was carried out in the open grounds at the very centre of town in front of the Government building.
Priests that graced our shores from overseas
Rev. Fr. Patrice Chocolski, Coordinator, & Secretary General WACOM from Ars, France
Rev.Monsignor William G. Middleton from Christchurch, New Zealand
Fr.Maurice Thompson from Sydney, Australia
Fr.Michael Knight from Wollongong, Australia
Fr. Dan Sinclair from Suva, Fiji
Fr. Julio Geni from Honiara, Solomon Islands
Fr. Line Folaumoeloa, Tonga
Rev. Monsignor Etuale Lealofi, Pago Pago, American Samoa
Fr. Setefano Tuisea, Pago Pago American Samoa
The delegation of 4 Priests from the Philippines.
Impact of the Congress on Samoa
The message of Divine Mercy is now on a much wider platform meaning that for Samoa itself Catholics and non Catholics, almost all have heard of the message through the media, prior, during and post congress. A lot of Catholics and a number of non Catholics recite the chaplet especially at the merciful hour of 3.00 in the afternoon with the simple understanding that this is a prayer for healing and mercy for all especially at this time. This positive impact has reflected well at the time of the Tsunami and after the Tsunami when Divine Mercy Cenacles went out offering 9 Hours Novenas in the different affected villages all throughout the island of Upolu giving encouragement and hope to the people who lost their loved ones and had nothing left of their physical possessions. From discussions with both the Tsunami Victims and DM Cenacle members it was transpired that though the people suffer much the involvement and participation of the Church, & the various Devotional Groups were inspirational and healing to all.
Update from other countries revealed that more people are now made aware of the Divine Mercy message as a hope for mankind and peace for the world. In all the Congress were a spiritual gift and blessing for Samoa and all of Oceania.
Preparations leading to the Congress
An Ad Hoc Committee of five members was set up chaired by His Grace Archbishop Alapati L.Mataeliga.
About 10 other sub committees were also set up responsible for the various functions ranging from the Finance Committee, Program & Registration, Guests & Accommodations, Transportation, the Media, Church Services, Medical & First Aid, Food, Evangelization, and Venues & Cleaning.
All the different committees worked endlessly in a concerted and untiring manner reflecting the message of mercy that it is a “Way of Life” to live daily.
Meeting chaired by the Secretary General & Coordinator WACOM on Thursday July 16 @ 1:00pm
Father Chocholski chaired a meeting of Spiritual Directors and all Lay Coordinators from the various Regions to establish an understanding of the work and message of mercy performed in their respective countries. At the same time he requested the support from them and their Local Ordinary in advising the Spiritual Director/s and Lay Coordinator/s so that members appointed are noted on the Flow Chart for Oceania. This is an endeavor to assist with prompt communication from the Executive Office to the various Regions throughout the world on the Divine Mercy message from time to time.
The new Spiritual Director for DM Fiji is Fr. James Ross, sm.
Fr James Ross replaces Fr Michael Bransfield who passed away in late July 2009 (just after the OACOM) Fr Michael Bransfield was very ill at the time of the Congress hence he was not able to attend. (May his soul rest in the mercy of God)
DM Samoa 5 – 7 October 2010
Divine Mercy Samoa will hold its National Congress for 3 days commencing 5 October 2010, Feast Day of St Faustina, and finishes on 7 October 2010 on the Feast Day of Our Lady of the Rosary.
Divine Mercy Fiji will hold its National Congress from 6 January to 9 January 2011.
“Sending on Mission”DM Cenacles continue to focus on evangelization work within the families, parish, and the diocese and across other nations.
Other Islands of Oceania
We will advise days of DM Congresses and updates for other Divine Mercy in Oceania once their informations/replies are to hand.
A very moving and enriching event of blessings highlighting the Message of Mercy in accordance with the Scriptures, Mercy as a “Way of Life” to be lived daily, and Mercy as a Devotion given due attention to the Liturgy and Sacraments of the Church.
There were numerous challenges and hurdles but more abundant were the graces from the warm Rays of Mercy hence the success of our preparations leading to, during the Congress and towards the finale. All these works were made possible by the help of Jesus the Divine Mercy Himself under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and our Trust in Jesus doing our best and “He Did the Rest”.
With love and prayers
In Jesus, Mary & Joseph