Catholic Education Week opens Sunday, January 27, 2019 with a Eucharistic Celebration at the Holy Family Cathedral, Fatuoaiga at 4pm.
Each school will have their own activities to celebrate the gift of Catholic Education. Each day will have a different theme:
Sunday: Celebrating Your Parish
Monday: Celebrating Your Community
Tuesday: Celebrating Your Students
Wednesday: Celebrating The Nation
Thursday: Celebrating Vocations
Friday: Celebrating Faculty, Staff & Volunteers
Saturday: Celebrating Families
The Director of the Office of Catholic Education, Br. Donald provided a brief history of Catholic schools in American Samoa.
Catholic Education started in the territory in 1883, in the village of Leone when the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary, SMSM, founded St. Theresa’s Vocation School. This was the precursor of St. Theresa’s Elementary School.
In 1904, Br. Stratonique and Br. John arrived from Europe. They were met by a group of chiefs from Leone, with a request that a school be opened in Leone.
The request was accepted and three Brothers opened a school in 1905 with about 100 students.
The Marist Brothers taught in Leone for 42 years.
Early in 1909, the St. Francis Elementary School for girls was started by the SMSM Sisters. The school included a Commercial School for girls who were well prepared by the Sisters to enter the workforce after graduation.
In September 1915, Br. Michael Bernzott and Br. Herman Seringer, who had been in Safotulafai, Savai’i, arrived in American Samoa to open the school at Atu’u, starting with over 100 students.
In the 1930s, a government school called Feleti Memorial was built in Leala, Taputimu village, to educate the sons of high ranking chiefs.
It closed after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
The chiefs of the Western District submitted a request to the Department of Education to re-open the school as a Junior High School.
The chiefs requested the Marist Brothers to run the school and the Brothers returned to the Western District.
In 1950, the school reopened with a new name and operated by Br. Herman and Br. Basil in Leala, Taputimu village. In 1963, the school closed and was never reopened.
Marist Brothers High School, Malaeloa and Faasao High School in Lepuapua were opened in the 1970's and the two schools were combined in the late 1990's as Faasao Marist High School.
The final two schools to be opened are Hope House Montessori and Mary the Mother Montessori.
Marist Brothers Atuu closed in the mid 1980s and was amalgamated with St. Francis School as Marist St. Francis Elementary.
An estimated 600 students are enrolled in our five Catholic schools today. The schools are: Hope House Montessori, Mary the Mother Montessori, St Theresa Elementary, Marist St Francis Elementary and Faasao Marist High School.
This Catholic Education Week you're invited to join our schools in celebrating the gift of Catholic Education.
A special invitation to graduates of our schools to find out how you can become involved and assist in keeping Catholic Education alive and well in American Samoa.
What an experience our three delegates to the World Youth Day in Panama City, Panama are having.
Here's what Paul Collins had to say: "As a young delegate from American Samoa I share with some of the pilgrims around the world that where I come from we have a lot of youth activity going on in the church.
"But the best thing is I have been working with young people in American Samoa at the Boys and Girls Club of American Samoa. I feel like it’s one of the best and great experiences, more like my community youth service back home. It applies everywhere I go and as a representative of the Diocese of Samoa-Pago Pago, I am very blessed to be here in Panama to witness the World Youth Day."
From Fr. Pio Afu: "Two things that come to mind. First is the Gospel of John 10:16 "One flock and one shepherd"
"That's the most exciting and powerful inspiration I have right now. It's enlightening and inspiring to see the youth or this image of the "one flock" coming together and represent different countries of the world! Wow! Fr. Pio says he will share his second opinion in another article, upon their return from Panama.
Also in Panama City is Charles Asalemo.
Two of our seminarians reached a significant step in their journey to the priesthood this month.
Salesi Moimoi and Andy Wilson have received their candidacy to Holy Orders having completed their 6th year of studies and formation.
Seminarian Salesi of the Holy Family Parish first studied at Mt Angel Seminary in Portland, Oregon and then enrolled at the Pacific Regional Seminary, Suva, Fiji.
Seminarian Andy attended St. Alphonso Seminary in Guam until it closed then went on to Mt. Angel to complete his course.
The next step for the two seminarians is ordination to diaconate, and finally ordination to the priesthood. Malo lava Salesi and Andy.
It's also a blessing that Seminarian Aukusitino Alailesulu is carrying out his pastoral year, the final step before ordination, in Alao Parish.
Let us continue to pray for our seminarians.
After an absence of more 20 years, our Diocese welcomes back the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary or SMSM.
Bishop Peter Brown officially introduced Sr. Soana and Sr. Palepa at the Cathedral Parish Mass on the Feast Day of the Holy Family, December 30, 2018.
The two Sisters arrived on December 16 and will work in parish and education ministry.
Bishop Brown said Sr Soana and Sr. Palepa come with many years of experience in these fields.
The SMSM Sisters used to operate St. Theresa School in Leone and St. Francis School in Lepua.
Their order celebrated 150 years of service in Samoa and American Samoa in 2014.
Bishop Brown said, “It was a great Christmas blessing for the Diocese to have the Sisters back. We wish them a great welcome and God blessings on their work for the people of American Samoa.”
Our Diocese continues to benefit from the generosity of the Lealaifuaneva Peter E. Reid Charitable Foundation Inc.
The Foundation has donated $95,000 to the Diocese of Samoa- Pago Pago to assist Catholic schools, the Holy Family Cathedral, Hope House and the Parish of St. Paul iliili where Mr Lealaifuaneva Reid worshipped.
Here’s how the funds will be spent:
$50,000 will go towards repairs to the Cathedral, particularly from the storm damage earlier in the year; $20,000 to Hope House for repairs and improvements;
$3,000 to St Paul’s Church for maintenance; and $22,600 for maintenance and furnishing for Faasao Marist High School, St Theresa Elementary and Marist St Francis.
The Hope House and Mother the Mary Montessori kindergarten schools have also been assisted with repairs and equipment by the foundation.
Over many years, the Foundation has assisted with many projects of the Diocese, making possible their continued operation, especially when maintenance is needed.
In more recent times, it has also made possible improvements to the facilities to better provide for the services they supply.
Foundation President Ms Olivia Reid was grateful for the recent tours of the facilities that showed how previous funding has been used.
Regular reporting keeps the Foundation members aware of what is being done.
Ms. Reid commended the school principals for what they have managed thus far, and recognized how there is still much to be done.
President of Lealaifuaneva P.E. Reid Charitable Foundation, Ms Olivia Reid presents check to Diocese
Our Diocese will be represented at the World Youth Day in Panama City, Panama by Paul Collins, Charles Asalemo, and Fr. Pio Afu.
Paul and Charles are both from the Cathedral Parish of the Holy Family, Fatuoaiga.
The 2019 World Youth Day will be held January 22-27, 2019 in Panama City , Panama.
Young Catholics from all over the world will be attending World Youth Day.
The week long program includes catechetical sessions, pilgrimages, music, prayer and reconciliation. Pope Francis will speak to the youth at a prayer service upon his arrival in Panama City and he will also celebrate Mass on the last day, during which His Holiness will announce the host county for the next World Youth Day.
Beginning of World Youth Day
In 1984 at the close of the Holy Year of Redemption, over 300,000 young people from around the world responded to the invitation of His Holiness John Paul II for an International Jubilee of youth on Palm Sunday in St. Peter’s square. Looking out to the crowds who answered his invitation he said, “What a fantastic spectacle is presented on this stage by your gathering here today! Who claimed that today’s youth has lost their sense of values? Is it really true that they cannot be counted on?”
It was at this gathering that the Holy Father entrusted to the youth what is now known as the World Youth Day Cross, to be carried throughout the world as a symbol of the love of Christ for humanity.
The following Palm Sunday, coinciding with the United Nation’s International Year of the Youth, Our Holy Father took the opportunity to welcome the youth of the world to Rome again. Later, announcing the institution of World Youth Day on December 20, 1985, and the first official WYD was held in 1986.
There have been 12 International World Youth Day celebrations, where the youth continue to answer the invitation of the Holy Father in staggering numbers and carry home the message received there to be Christ’s light to the world. While these events are organized by the clergy and laity of the Catholic Church, youth of all faiths are invited to attend and encounter Christ, making this gathering truly universal.
We wish Paul, Charles and Fr. Pio a safe journey and look forward to them sharing their experience with our Diocesan youth upon their return.
Bishop Peter Brown with Charles Asalemo, Paul Collins & Fr. Pio Afu before they departed for Panama.