Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu has links with Catholic Church

The recently elected president of the Methodist Church in Fiji, Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu, has a number of connections with the Catholic church according to an article by Netani Rika, a former Editor of the Fiji Times, which appeared in a recent edition of Islands Business.

Rika says Waqairatu may well have been installed as Archbishop of Suva rather than President of the Methodist Church. From childhood in Naroi village on Moala, Waqairatu was put on a path to priesthood and encouraged every step of the way by his father and grandfather.

“My father influenced me to go to St John’s College at Cawaci and become a priest,” Waqairatu reflected a week after his ordination as head of the country’s largest Christian denomination. “While he was a Methodist, my grandfather Roko Taito Waqaiqera received the Catholic faith and was the only Catholic person on Moala. “It was my father’s wish that I continue the family tradition by becoming a priest trained in Rome.”

Cawaci was his first choice for his secondary education. But there were no places available, so the following year, Waqairatu entered Central Fijian School—now Sila Central High—less than two kilometres from the Davuilevu Theological College where he would eventually study for the ministry.

Catholicism would, however, continue to follow the young cleric and later in life, the Methodist minister would marry a Catholic girl, Ioana Banivetaua.

“The support my wife and in-laws have given me has been enormous. There have been times when she has challenged me to ensure that we say our prayers as a family—that’s a huge inspiration.”

Ioana has also influenced Waqairatu in terms of ecumenism or the relationship between churches. For some years now, she has coordinated joint prayer meetings of Methodist, Gospel and Assemblies of God women, culminating in providing meals for 150 street people once a week.

Waqairatu is open to regular contact with Archbishop Chong.  He attending his Episcopal ordination earlier this year. Both men have strong views about reform and development in the church, as well as the role of religion in politics.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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