People of Fiji farewell Archbishop Mataca

This week the people of Fiji have been bidding farewell to Archbishop Emeritus Petero Mataca.

The reguregu (cultural expression of condolences) and veiqaravi (presentations) for Archbishop Petero began at the Immaculate Conception Parish in Lami on Tuesday afternoon.

The Church was well prepared to host the hundreds of people, numerous delegations and dignitaries that came to pay their final respects.

On Tuesday Vicar General Father Suluo Turagakacivi said many parishioners, as well as other denominations, had already presented their reguregu.

A government delegation led by the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama presented their ireguregu on Wednesday on behalf of the people of Fiji.

Fr Turagakacivi said the Pacific Bible Society, the Pacific Council of Churches, parishes within the Central/Eastern Division and many other religious, corporate and NGOs had come to pay their final respects.

The interim president Reverend Laisiasa Ratabacaca and other church ministers and women were among the many who gathered to bid their last respects on Wednesday.

Methodist Church secretary for communication Reverend James Bhagwan said representatives of clergy and lay members in the Methodist Church from the 14 divisions of the 56 divisions in the Methodist Church paid their traditional respects at the reguregu.

Relatives of the late Archbishop from his village in Vuaki, Yasawa, Catholic Teacher’s Association, Western Region Parish, Northern Region Parish and the Tui Suva also presented their i-reguregu on Wednesday.

Most of the churches within the Central/Eastern Division have had purple cloth draped over the property as a sign of mourning and preparations are well underway to host those that are still expected to come in,” said Catholic Church communications officer Leca Vunibobo.

“Those coming in from outside Viti Levu have to arrange for their own accommodations and most are using other parish facilities for the duration of the funeral.”

On Thursday afternoon the funeral cortege, led by the St Thomas High School band and the St Michael Association (Police, Army, Navy, Prison) left Suva Private Hospital, in a solemn for the Cathedral.

Students from Suva’s Catholic Schools formed guard of honour along Amy, Holland, Selbourne & Pratt Streets.

People joined the students forming the guard of honor along the route and then follow procession to the Cathedral.

All church members joining the procession were dressed in black, white or combination of of those colours

Sergeant Usaia Turagaiviu was the medal carrier, walking behind the hearse, bearing all the Archbishop’s  civilian decorations.

Archbishop Petero lay in state in the Cathedral until the Vigil Mass which began at 6pm.

Bishop Brown, from Hamilton New Zealand was the celebrant, Fr Beniamino Kaloudau. concelebrated with him.

After the mass eulogies were given and all night parish-rostered vigil took place.

The Resurrection Mass will be celebrated on today (Friday) at 10am.

Vunibobo said it was encouraging to see the number of interested Catholics who had been devoting their time to participate in the choir practice for the resurrection service.

However, because of the limited space available in the Cathedral, the choir masters from each parish have been asked to nominate those who will be participating in the mass.

Viewing-screens have been set up outside and in the crypt so the ceremony can be viewed by those unable to get into the Cathedral.

Pratt & Murray streets which are adjacent to the Cathedral will be closed from 8.30am to 3pm, so the road can used for public seating/standing .

A St.Thomas High School student will play the Last Post on Friday before the entombing.

The ceremonies will be televised on Sky Pacific TV and a delayed coverage later in the evening.

Live streaming will also be available for overseas viewers.

It is expected that President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, Prime Minister Rear Admiral (Ret) Voreqe Bainimarama, government officials and leaders from the Fiji Council of Churches and leaders of other religious organisations will be invited to the funeral service.

News category: Asia Pacific, Top Story.

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