Here are our Vincentian Students – a diverse group of young men from Fiji, Solomon Islands and Australia who have taken on board the spirit of St Vincent de Paul. These young men are in various stages of formation, in Wailoku (Fiji), in Red Beach (Solomon Islands) and in Ashfield (Australia). We would ask that you continue to pray for them on their journey of discernment and commitment.
Sowani Raivuni. from Fiji Islands. Seventh Year in Formation. My first “Come and See” Program changed the way I looked at the forgotten people of God, which are the poor. To come close to the poor was the last thing in my life, but my first day out on the streets was a surprise for me because I saw Jesus in them. To quote a book by Fr. Thomas McKenna cm “ To see God’s presence demands faith, faith that helps us see beyond the ragged clothes, open sores, runny noses, gaunt look, angry attitude, sallow skin, or feigned indifference that people may have. As St Vincent said you will see by the light of faith that the Son of God, whose will it was to be poor, is represented to us by these creatures. The reward of faith is an encounter with the God of love.” This paragraph was shared to me by Fr. Veremo Nayacalevu cm on my first Come and See Program in 2007. That is why I joined the Vincentians.
Romano Pesira. from the Solomon Islands. I am in Year 6 at Pacific Regional Seminary and have completed my Spiritual Year in 2009. My reason for joining the Vincentians and the seminary was because my all time interest is to be involved in helping the poor, and so realizing the charism of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians) is more on serving the unfortunate. I feel it is the right Congregation to join because it matches my interest. And so to be an eligible and effective Vincentian, attending the seminary is the only appropriate place of gaining necessary knowledge and skills that would help me in my future priestly ministry. The reason I like being in the Wailoku Formation House is that it is very simple and truly reflects the kind of formation that will ultimately help me grow into a better Vincentian priest.
Jeffery Richard Werner. from the Solomon Islands. Spiritual year: 2012. Pastoral Year: 2013 (Natovi and Nausori Parish). Year 4 at Pacific Regional Seminary. Why do I want to be a Vincentian? There are four (4) particular things that struck me about the Congregation of the Mission. (i) Missionary Spirit (ii) Community (iii) Discipline (iv) Simplicity. My Phrase: “Born for the simple things in life. The reason I like being in the Wailoku Formation House is that we work together, pray together and live together as brothers in a community. Therefore, we are united even though we are from different cultural backgrounds.
Ian Patrick Soong. from Fiji Islands. This year is my fourth year in the formation house in Wailoku but my third year in PRS (Pacific Regional Seminary). I have also completed my Spiritual Year in 2012. The main reason why I wanted to join the Vincentians is their simple way of life and most importantly it has always been my wish and dream to become a priest. Conversely, for the past three years I have learned many new things living in the formation house and one thing I love most is our spirit of brotherhood and teamwork. People often say that priesthood is one of the toughest vocations in life but to tell the truth, I never regretted my decision of joining the priesthood in the first place.
Kasimero Tito Bule. from Fiji Islands. Years in the Seminary: 3rd Year. Internal Seminary: 2012. I have several reasons why I joined the Vincentians and the Seminary. Firstly, it is all about responding to that inner call and invitation of Jesus in my life. I was attracted to the Vincentians through the way, works, life and spirituality of its founder; Vincent de Paul. Also my previous ministry with the Society of St Vincent de Paul. Also my previous ministry with the Society of St Vincent de Paul has somehow contributed to my knowledge and also deepens my willingness and openness to say “yes” in following Christ to dedicating myself to his works of evangelizing, service, moreover with living out and proclaiming the Gospel to the people. Joining the seminary has been a process of intellectual development and understanding especially in preparation for pastoral ministry. The reason I like being in the Formation House at Wailoku is because I understand the Formation House as a place and affirming my call by discerning through prayer, recreation, pastoral, studies and human development. It’s been a blessing living in Wailoku due to the diverse background, gifts, skills, personality and qualities that we value which in one way or another brings out the uniqueness in us and contributes to the progress of our living together.
Kennedy Keniihana. from the Solomon Islands. I am from the southern part of Malaita Province, Tarapaina paris, Auki Diocese. This is my 3rd year in the seminary and the 4th year in the Formation House here at Wailoku, Fiji. However I completed my spiritual year in 2012. It was a very interesting year because it was about prayer and reflection in our lives. In addition I never thought that being in the seminary or being within the community would be like this. Till then, the time had come to answer this call even though this is very hard and challenging but prayer can be the source of strength. And above all, all for the glory of God and the kingdom. Furthermore the Formation House is a place of forming a person towards priesthood. This includes Spiritual Formation, Community Formation, Academic Formation, Social Formation and Pastoral Formation. With this I am enjoying my life here in the Formation House here in Wailoku, Fiji.
Thomas Lanyon. From: Iviqele Est. (Nakarabo), Vaturova, Cakaudrove, Fiji Islands. Year: 3. The reason I came to the Vincentians was because I was inspired by the work of the Congregation of the Mission. That is to serve people in what situation they are in, and also to serve God in a religious life. The reason I like being in the Formation House in Wailoku is because I enjoy community living, working together and learning from one another.
Samson Imanueli Tadu Naigulevu but most people call me by my second name “Manu.” I am 30 years old. I come from a small island in the centre of Fiji, namely Koro Island, from the village of Namacu but most of my life has been spent in the capital city of Suva. This is my third year in the seminary. I believe that God calls me to the priestly vocation and the simplicity and zeal that the Vincentians have shown in living out their vocation is what attracted me to join the Vincentians. St. Vincent’s Formation House in Wailoku is a place where I now consider to be my new home. It offers me a place where I feel a sense of belonging because my opinion matters greatly.
Daniel Jone Waqaraimasi. from Fiji Islands. Hello and bula, once again my name is Daniel and I am a Fijian born citizen, well I am from the Province of Lau which is in the south east of Fiji, and my island is called Lakeba in the village of Waitabu, which refers to the Holy Water. From the main city to my village, it takes three days to reach the main island. Moving on to my family, there are five of us altogether which consists of my three beautiful sisters and my older brother. I’m the second eldest in the family and both of my parents are still alive. This is my second year of formation and still in the process of discernment, To be honest I had no idea that I would end up in a place like this, you know what my dream was? I always dreamt of becoming a soldier and serving my country, which was only thing in my mind ever since I was a kid. With all these hopes and dreams God led me to a different place where I could be formed and well trained in order to fulfill the reality to where I am now. Even though there are challenges along the way, this all part of the journey where I could come to the genuine stage of my being and my purpose in life. Being a Vincentian is everything to me. I am blessed to be part of this Congregation. Through my experience I have learnt so much and with all this ability, it helps me to grow in body, mind and spirit. One thing I admire the most was the charism of St Vincent de Paul, a man with a gentle heart, a heart which accepted everyone, good and bad. A man who cared especially for the poor and met their needs. With all these many gifts that Saint Vincent offered to the Congregation, helps me in adjusting to the life of St Vincent and by imitating him God’s love is shared to everyone.
Setareki Kepel. Bula Vinaka. My name is Setareki Keppel. I am from Toga, Rewa, Fiji. I belong to the St Vincent de Paul Parish, Nausori. This is my first year as a Vincentian. I choose to join the Vincentians because of the care it shows to the unfortunate.
Benjamin Hado. I am from the Solomon Islands. This is my first year at the seminary at the Pacific Regional Seminary, Suva. I come to the Vincentians or the seminary because I want to become a priest to serve God and to evangelize the Word of God to the people. I like being here in the Formation House because it is quiet to pray and study.
Visesio Tawake. Year: Year One –Pacific Regional Seminary. Sector Parish: De Paul Sector-Toga/ St Vincent de Paul Parish, Nausori. Origin: Hailed from Navatuyaba Village, the District of Toga in the Province of Rewa. (Fijian). The reason why I joined the Vincentians and the Seminary is that I do believe that God has called me to be a Vincentian and experience this initial stage of vocation. Being a Vincentian is God’s plan as being motivated by his spirit to join the Vincentian community. Regardless of my initial teaching career I have to accept his call and let only his will be done. The Formation House experience is a new experience altogether. With all the responsibilities being laid upon our shoulders I am really enjoying and learning new roles with accountability. With the loving care of other brothers, integrated culture-responsibilities are executed well. So far, so good. No regrets and I am proud to be a Vincentian. Vinaka.
Hi, my name is Marc Tapson. I am twenty-four years old and was born in Harare, Zimbabwe (a country in Southern Africa). I am currently in my second year as a candidate for the priesthood with the Vincentians.
Many people today ask me why I joined the priesthood, and more specifically, why the Vincentians? Well, it’s quite a long story but for your sake I will keep it short. When I moved to Australia in 2002 I first felt the call but didn’t really do anything about it and after a while it went away so I decided to ‘carry on’ with life. After studies I found work around Queensland which was both exciting and rewarding, however, I felt like something was missing. After a while this emptiness became more intense and I couldn’t ignore it. One night I picked up the Bible and started reading… I couldn’t put it down. Before long I started going back to Mass… I can clearly remember when I attended Mass for the first time in a long time, I felt like God was saying ‘welcome home, I’ve been waiting’. It was really surprising as I didn’t expect to feel such a strong connection so soon.
From then on I attended Mass every Sunday but I was still afraid to witness to my faith at work and with friends but that soon changed. Gradually as I started to recognise people at Mass I felt the need to do something to help, it didn’t matter what, I just knew that I needed to help others. They seemed reluctant at first, but I started to show up at the rostered times for cleaning the Church and it snowballed from there. A priest asked me if I had ever thought of priesthood, to which I responded ‘I think about it every day’. So we spoke every few weeks and I started to attend daily Mass which really helped me spiritually. Church became my second home; there was an intense desire to know more about the Church, my faith and God. A friend stayed with me for a while and he introduced me to other youth Catholics who really taught me many things about the Catholic faith and how to live it out in daily life, yet still have fun as a young person in today’s world.
In the early stages of discernment I really didn’t know much at all except that I felt God calling me to be a priest. I remember one specific Mass when the Bishop introduced two ‘new’ priests to the diocese and he called them Vincentians, a word I had never heard before. I was very intrigued, so I went and asked a Vincentian who was newly ordained at the time what it was like and why he decided to be a Vincentian and how they were different to other priests. After his explanation and lengthy discussions I felt drawn to the Vincentian Charism. The life, preaching and example of the Vincentian priest challenged my prejudices which invoked interest and provided inspiration during my discernment. After many months of discernment and prayer I still struggled to make the decision to leave work and begin something completely new and uncertain. I didn’t know if I would be suited/ capable to live the life of a seminarian and (God willing) one day a priest. My family weren’t too keen on the idea at the time. I finally came to the conclusion in prayer that no one can make it through by themselves, it is only through the grace of God, and if that’s where God was calling me then who was I to say no? I explained my situation to my employer and I am still in awe at how supportive he was even though he wasn’t a Catholic. After that I felt at peace, so much so that I could not compare it to anything I had ever experienced before. So, I left work at the end of that year and began studies for the priesthood at the beginning of 2013.
At present I am living in the Vincentian house at Ashfield. I study with the other seminarians around Sydney but live with the Vincentian community. Life in Ashfield and studies are both challenging and rewarding. I have exposure to many and varied years of experience within the community which is very insightful and beneficial to someone (like myself) who is just beginning their journey towards priesthood. I also realised that discernment doesn’t stop once you enter the seminary… it is a lifelong process as we seek to know and live out Gods will in our lives.
International Mission, Solomon Islands
Here I would like to introduce to you Fr. Raul and the students in residence for formation. We have two students – Benjamin (Yr 6) and Simon (Yr 3); with two students in their second year of pre-seminary – John and Michael.
CLICK THIS LINK FOR VIDEO: Vincentian Formation in the Solomon Islands
As Vincentians we are involved in two major areas for the Church of the Solomon Islands. Firstly, we provide staff for the Holy Name of Mary Seminary, assisting the local Church in their endeavours to provide local clergy to minister to the people in the Solomon Islands. We also run the Red Beach Parish, which has several out-stations to the east of Honiara. Fr. Raul is the Pastor, with the Seminary staff and Vincentian students assisting on the weekends at the various centres. Here are some photos from the Parish.