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Rev. Elder Masalosalo Sopoaga, outspoken minister passes away at 73

The Congregational Christian Church of American Samoa lost one of their longest serving pastors who passed away Wednesday morning at the LBJ Medical Center with his wife Simoe and their two children Menorah and Hesedh at his side.

Rev. Elder Masalosalo Sopoaga of Salelologa, Samoa, died of pneumonia; he was 73, said his son Hesedh Sopoaga, who is a police officer. Hesedh told Samoa News that his father was hospitalized for about a month before he died.

Menorah said her father was the principal at Malua Theological College in Samoa in 1970 and had also served as the church minister of the CCCS at Solosolo village in Samoa.

She added that after his service in Solosolo they came to American Samoa in 1981, where he served at the CCCAS in Pago Pago for 30 years, until his retirement in 2010. Menorah said her father would have been 74 on August 13, 2012.

Menorah said her father taught at the Kanana Fou Theological Seminary part time while serving as church minister at the CCCAS in Pago Pago.  Rev Sopoaga was also a member of the board of regents of the Kanafou Theological Seminary.

She noted her father also served as  chairman of the ASG Parole Board during the administrations of governors A.P. Lutali and Uifaatali P. Coleman.

“My father always put his work as a church minister first before anything else because of his calling to serve God’s people,” said Menorah, his daughter. “He is a very patient person. When he is ill or sick, he would never admit to it — he always says that he is doing well.”

Simoe describes her husband as a person who talks a lot, was always happy, easy to get along with and treats everyone the same.

Outside of his church and family, Sopoaga had been called upon many times to speak at public and government sponsored events because of the solid messages he delivered to the audience and for the fact he didn’t mince words.

For example, in April 2001 in delivering the Flag Day Church Service sermon, Sopoaga told an audience of more than 300 that he is disturbed by reports of teenage girls who have been impregnated by "heartless men" and teenage daughters who have been impregnated by "heartless stupid fathers".

Rev. Sopoaga urged the people of American Samoa to set their eyes on Christ "and make sure that your children are safe, well protected from abuse of all kinds. The same goes true, with the abuses against our own women.”

Then a month later, Rev. Sopoaga was one of the invited speakers at the opening of the  First National Women’s Conference.

“Women, stop being satisfied with what and where you are today — get up and provide instructive comments and insightful responses (faasoesa) to the authorities for the general good of the whole,” he declared.

“Please, rock the boat of the church and get yourselves away from the roles you are playing and be able to do more good for the people,” the respected elder implored his audience of primarily women.

“You are not to be eternally on the floor of the church, at the kitchen, raising funds, being women deacons and faletua, and whatever you’re made to do now in the church,” he said.

Funeral services for Rev. Sopoaga are pending and Samoa News extends our condolences to the grieving family.

Samoa News reporters Joyetter Feagaimalii-Luamanu, Ausage Fausia, and Fili Sagapolutele contributed to this report.