Bishop Peter Brown ordained as new Diocese leader
Over a thousand people, including members and leaders of the local Catholic faith gathered at Fatuoaiga this past Thursday to witness the ordination and installation of their new leader, Bishop Peter Hugh Brown who was appointed as the second bishop of the Diocese of Samoa Pago Pago by His Holiness Pope Francis on May 31, 2013.
Brown replaces outgoing Vaopunimatagi John Quinn Weitzel, 85, who will be departing the territory after serving as head of the local Catholic religion for over two decades.
Bishop Brown was consecrated on Thursday by His Excellency, the Apostolic Nuncio of New Zealand and the Pacific - Archbishop Martin Krebs, and co-consecrators Bishop Emeritus John Quinn Weitzel and Bishop Denis Browne of Hamilton, New Zealand.
The mass, in the beginning, was conducted in the English language until after the consecration rites were completed, at which point Bishop Brown took over as the main celebrant and continued the service in Samoan, in which he is fluent.
Archbishop of the Diocese of Samoa-Apia Alapati Mataeliga offered the homily and incorporated the Samoan culture by delivering his sermon while holding a staff (to'oto'o) and the fly whisk (fue).
The Holy Family Cathedral at Fatuoaiga was full to maximum capacity with government leaders, members of the clergy from both here and off island, Bishop Brown's family and friends, Catholics and non-Catholics.
The three-hour long mass included a pledge by Bishop Brown to build the church up and to be faithful. One of the most memorable moments was when he knelt before the altar as the Litany of Saints was being sung. Many were moved as he knelt on the altar steps covered in a fine mat (ie toga) as the traditional ifoga was being carried out.
A big round of applause was heard after the presentation of the Holy Bible, the ring, the miter and staff - all of which signify the leader of the local Diocese.
The mass was only the first of many events that day. Immediately afterwards, the ava faatupu was carried out by representatives of Nuuuli village. A number of off-island delegates who were present looked on in awe as the Samoan culture was being put on display. Hundreds of photos were snapped and videos were recorded.
Two huge white tents draped in white cloth and covered tables were set out on the Fatuoaiga malae to accommodate the VIP guests which included invitees from the Vatican and members of the clergy from around the Pacific Region. Also in attendance were several nuns, Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Malielegaoi, Samoa Head of State Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese and his wife, Governor Lolo and First Lady Cynthia Moliga and members of the local Legislature.
After the ava ceremony, the ta'alolo (traditional presentation of gifts) took place with Tonga leading the way, presenting a huge siapo that took over a dozen women to hold up. New Zealand's ta'alolo included $20,000USD while a group of catechists and their wives from Apia presented fine mats in honor of the new Bishop.
Entertainment was provided by the four zones (central, eastern, western, fagaloa) of the Diocese which includes an estimated 14,000 local followers.
The crowd was entertained with lively dance numbers and songs that celebrated Bishop Brown, honored Bishop Quinn, and talked about the church and its history. The celebrations ended at nightfall with the traditional presentation of gifts for VIP guests.
Bishop Brown will offer his first Mass tomorrow at the Holy Family Cathedral in Fatuoaiga at 4 p.m.