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Luamanuvao Laban

1 March, 2008

Samoan Catholic Youth Rally

Speech at the Samoan Catholic Youth Rally, Ioane Vito Centre, Newtown

Ae, ou te le’i tautala i se upu, Tulou! E’e ia i ou se’etaga malu I lau afioga I le Epikopa John Dew, Afioga ia Patele ma Patele, Afioga I Tama’ita’i Sa, Susuga I Faipule fa’apea le au faigaluega a le Atua ma o outou faletua, aemaise afioga I Peresetene ma ofisa o Autalavou totonu o le matagaluega Samoa o e sa ta’imua le fa’ataunu’uina o lenei fa’amoemoe matagofie mo tupulaga aemaise oulua susuga o le a fa’afoeina lenei fa’amoemoe E fa'atalofa atu foi I lau afioga I le Komsina o Samoa Lau Afioga Asi Blakclock male Faletua – Talofa, Talofa lava.

O le ā ou lē a lei i le lau-ā-manu, ae ou te tuli-mata’i le fa’amuli o atu. Pe sala la’u gagana - tulou! O faiva lava o lima tautala.
Ae tau ia o sa’u fa’afetai tusa o le valaauina o a’u. Lenei ua tatou oa oa i faleseu, ina ua sili mea o le seuga sa fatu fa’asolo iai le fa’atautaiga.

Fa’amalo le tofa tatala, Fa’autaga mau fa’a fale upolu, aua sa tu ma tilotilo le tamaloa Lealataua. O la’u fa’afetai lena
O lenei fa’amoemoe ou te talitonu sa outou moemiti iai, o se miti sa fau ao fau po, o se miti na’o na fa’afua ae leai sona taunuuga, ae peita’i Samoa e, o lea ua fa’ataunu’uina i le alofa ma le agalelei o le tatou matai i le lagi.

Ou te talitonu, o le tagata ma lona fa’asinomaga, o le tagata ma lona aiga, o le tagata ma lona nu’u, o le tagata foi ma lona atunu’u – “E iloa le tama ma le teine Samoa i lana tu ma lana savali, ma lana tautala”. Ou te talitonu o le sini lena o lenei fa’amoemoe ua fa’ataunu’uina mo tupulaga – e pei o le ulutala o lenei aso – Tupulaga mo Keriso.
Ona e filogia lo tatou fa’amoemoe I lenei aso o lea o le a fa’aauau la’u lauga I le gagana fa’aperetania.

Thank you to the Wellington Samoan Catholic Autalavou Chaplaincy for your kind invitation to speak at such a spirited occasion. It is a great honour to be here today and share in your expressions of peace, love and service to God.

Warm Pacific Greetings to you all. I am happy to share in your celebration of faith and youth and would particularly like to acknowledge:
* His Emminence Archbishop John Dew
* Father Patele Mareko Tufuga (Samoan Chaplain) and Sister Pesio Sefo
* Vaueli and Veronkia Tolova'a (Directors of Youth)
* Our youth speakers today - Melania Lui, Josie Leota, Ikenasio Tuia and Ieti Leuu

I recognise the reason we are here today – to acknowledge the youth groups from Strathmore, Newtown, Wainuiomata, Naenae, Taita, Petone, Stokes Valley, Heretaunga, Levin, Titahi Bay, Tawa and Porirua. You are strong in your representation and I’m sure you make your individual parishes very proud.

You are all here today in celebration of your faith, your culture, and your determination to make this world a place of peace. Congratulations.

The Samoan Catholic Church, indeed many Samoan churches have a strong and rich history within the church of mobilizing youth. You continue that tradition with today's event and your preparations for the World Youth Day activities in Australia.

The first World Youth Day was held in Rome in 1986. This was an initiative of His Holiness John Paul II who saw this as an opportunity to reach out to the next generation of Catholics, to instil confidence in them, and ensure that the teaching of Christ are transmitted and lived.

Now World Youth Day is the biggest celebration of young people in the world, attracting millions of participants. For the first time, this year it will be held right here in the Pacific, in Sydney from 15-20 July 2008.

Organised by the Catholic Church, World Youth Day gathers young people from around the world to build bridges of friendship and hope between continents, peoples and cultures. It’s a journey of discovery for young people attending to experience faith, life and a sense of the church and Jesus Christ present today.

Being so close to home, provides a real opportunity for our churches to participate in and be renewed by World Youth Day in a way never experienced before. Providing the opportunity for our Catholic community to step forward and share their potential with each other and the international community.

The New Zealand-based Samoan contingent going to World Youth Day is headed by Father Maleko Tufuga Api and assisted by Sister Pesio Iosefo - I acknowledge their work and leadership. Their commitment, supported by the Samoan parishes around Wellington, has resulted in an increase in Pacific youth attending this event from two at the last event to 120 attending World Youth Day 2008.

New Zealand is sending a large contingent to Sydney. At present 4,000 pilgrims are booked to attend, with Wellington sending over 687 young people. The Samoan Chaplaincy is the biggest group travelling from Wellington with 120 pilgrims. This is a marked increase from Germany in 2005 when only 100 pilgrims travelled from New Zealand to Cologne, where the last World Youth Day was celebrated.

For many young Catholics this is the opportunity to deepen faith, and to add meaning to their spiritual life. It provides you with the rare opportunity, so close to home, to come together with your international brothers and sisters and share your hopes and dreams for how you can best live out your belief and Catholic teaching in the world today.

New Zealand will be partner to Australia during Days in Diocese, which is the week leading up to the main event in Sydney. Each of the six dioceses (Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin) will have the chance to showcase their region and share life in their communities with international visitors. Visitors are estimated to be arriving from countries such as Canada, Brazil, Ireland as well as our Pacific nations.

Each diocese has elected a chosen ambassador for their region. Each ambassador is the face of World Youth Day for their region representing New Zealand pilgrims at celebrations.

I am proud to be able to congratulate Josie Leota, who was selected to be the ambassador for Wellington.

This is a huge honour, as Josie is the only Pacific Island ambassador to represent Pacific Island pilgrims in her role as ambassador. She has also been recently selected as one of the two representatives for the New Zealand Bishops Council on the International Liturgical Group during World Youth Day week.

Josie will be travelling with His Holiness Pope Benedict 16 during World Youth Day week, and leading in events during the week such as the final vigil mass. Only two representatives from every country are selected, and all the representatives pray, share and celebrate together with His Holiness.

Let your Youth Rally today supply you with the energy and inspiration you need to make your World Youth Day activities a success.

Earlier this week I talked to a forum of Pacific Island ministers, whose focus for getting together was to explore ways of working effectively with local youth. It is heartening to see that our Pacific people are taking note of the importance that youth play now and in our future.

Our Pacific people are urban-centred and growing in number. Census 2006 highlighted that Pacific people are the youngest and the fastest growing population in New Zealand and this is an important factor to consider when we look at our future contribution.

You – our young Pacific people have great potential and opportunities ahead of you. With the support of your family, teachers, Pacific communities and the church I know this will be realised and you will be our future leaders.

I would like to share with you a little of my own story. My mother attended Saint Mary's College and my father attended Marist Brothers School in Apia, Samoa. Like all Samoan families,, we have a mix of religions.

I completed my schooling at Erskine College of the Sacred Heart. Erskine College was in Island Bay, but has been closed for some years.

My favourite subject at school was History.

One of the teachers that had a great influence on me was my history teacher – Mother Pabst.

Mother Pabst was the first woman in New Zealand to gain a doctorate in Law. She was a brilliant woman who could have had any job she wanted Law or in Government, but she chose to teach at a humble girls’ school.

She made a difficult but a wise choice. Her choice was to devote her life to the education of young women, at a time when the education of women was not highly valued.

I learnt many lessons from Mother Pabst that I have taken with me through my life.

She taught me respect. She taught me that women can do anything they set their minds to. She taught me that education requires hard work. And I also learnt from Mother Pabst that the most humble can teach the most important lessons in life.

I learnt from my education at Erskine College that a balanced programme with academic work, music, physical activity, and spiritual education is required for the development of our young people.

The Pacific Island culture and values that I learnt from my parents and extended family were another important element on my education for life.

Our Pacific values endure and at times these values bind us. Pacific values and church values are often one in the same, love, kinship, generosity and compassion.

Alofa, aiga potopoto, fa'autauta, fa'aloalo, va feiloa'i.

It’s obvious when I stand here today that the Pacific youth before me have captured that essence.

Your values are what drives you all to share in the spirit today, what makes you the strength and inspiration you are, and what will determine the adults you will become.

Strong and compassionate leaders show us that having clear values shape our relationships with others, our behaviour, our choices, and gives us a strong sense of who we are.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you, as the young and faithful, would be able to support in the spiritual guidance of your brothers and sisters? Wouldn’t it be significant if you could use your youth and faith for the betterment of those who are not fortunate to be as strong as you? Remember the prodigal son, the lost sheep and 'in my hour of need, who do I turn too?'

Everyone needs love, forgiveness, and peace. Our young people need your inspiration. Everyone needs to feel they belong.

There are many catholic leaders who have inspired me with their values – who had the courage to lead. Mother Pabst; Cardinal Williams and the Hikoi of Hope; Patele Ioane Vito with his determination on ensuring those who need support receive it; Bishop Patelesio Finau who supported marchs against passports being sold to Tongan people. The priests, nuns and community leaders who work night and day to help others – His Eminence John Dew who works with all religions and faiths to encourage awareness in our world of interfaith, peace and justice.

In 1999 in America, Pope John Paul II told 100,000 Catholic youth who had gathered for a rock concert that:

“sadly, too many young people are living apart from the light - in a world of illusions, a world of fleeting shadows and promises unfulfilled. If you look to Jesus, if you live the Truth that is Jesus, you will have in you the light that reveals the truths and values on which to build your own happiness, while building a world of justice, peace and solidarity.”

These are wise words.

We all need true love, forgiveness, and peace. We want it especially for you, our children, our grandchildren, nieces and nephews, our youth – you are our way forward.

Caring adults, interested in the welfare, growth and positive development of youth have been a hallmark of the church. Don’t forget those that have gone before you, and those that stand behind you and those that support you in your quest.

Strong relationships, mutual support, and people getting involved in their communities and churches are all directly related to positive outcomes like community safety, social justice, health, employment, and longevity.

Our Labour-led government knows that strong families equal strong communities, an essential part of the future of this country. We have invested heavily in our families, young and old ensuring that all New Zealanders have the skills and support they need to succeed, both now and in the future.

We need to continue to celebrate and value the positive, vibrant goodwill that is in our people and our churches.

Thank you all for gathering here today in celebration of your faith, your culture, your determination to make this world a place where there is love and nourishment to fill us all with hope.

Samoa e, ose upu vaivai lena ua mafai ona ou fa’asoa atu I lenei taeao, ia alofa Le Atua fesoasoani atu e tusa ma le fa’amoemoe, ia manuia le alo faiva o tupulaga mo le latou faigamalaga I le Aso Fa’apitoa mo Tupulaga I Sini, Ausetalia ia Iulai, ia aemaise lava le tapuaiga a matua aemaise Ekalesia eseese.

Ma lo’u fa’aaloalo lava - Soifua ma ia manuia

  • Luamanuvao Laban
  • Pacific Island Affairs