Smiles, hugs and tears of joy filled the Piula Theological College yesterday for graduates who had attained Certificates of Theology, Diplomas in Theology and Bachelors of Divinity celebrated achieving the goals they had set with families and friends.
The President of the Methodist Church, Rev. Elder Apineru Lafai reminded graduates to press on toward the prize for which God has called them.
“Remember, the end of one chapter is just the beginning of another,” he said.
“As Paul says, of course, my friends, I really do not think that I have already won it; the one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead.
“Forget the past and move on…we must forget the past difficulties, the many false starts, let’s focus on God and His guidance which is God's call through Christ Jesus to the life above.
“Thank you for your patience in the last four years, not only you but for your families and parents for their continuous prayers.
Tulei Jr Tulei from Botany, Auckland New Zealand was announced Dux for the year.
“A Psalm of David - bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name and forget none of His benefits,” he said.
“That’s how we feel today, that’s our thanks with a grateful heart to God for all the beautiful things He has done for yours and our lives.
“To the President, church our families and friends thank you for all the support, our success is symbolized by the hard work of our principal, and teachers.
“Your hard work makes us who we are today.
“To the graduate class of 2017….not unto us, o Lord, not unto us, but unto God for His faithfulness and unending love.
The top student for each of the four years was also announced during the ceremony yesterday.
Next year will mark 150 years since Piula Theological College was established in Samoa.
The training of pastors and teachers of the church was started in Satupa’itea, Savai’i in March 1864, when a Training Institute was opened with 16 students in residence.
Land was acquired in Satupaitea there were 11 houses and a classroom in the compound.
At the same time, it was reported that land had been bought at Lufilufi for the establishment of a Mission Station.
In the next few years Panapasa Ahogalu was the main teacher at the Institution where George Brown introduced subjects such as - Arithmetic, Catechism, Theology, Bible Study and Preaching.
In 1868, the Sixth District Meeting was held at Lufilufi where it was reported that Rev. Frank Firth had arranged for the land at Lufilufi to be cleared. Fourteen (14) houses and a weather-board school house were built. The Institute was then shifted to Piula, Lufilufi from its original location at Satupaitea.
With its beautiful setting, permanent fresh water in "Fatumea", Piula Theological College (as it is known today) has trained generations of Pastors and Ministers for the work of the Church at home and abroad.
Diploma of Theology
Tulei Jr Tulei & Lilly (Botany – New Zealand), Talalelei Mata’u & Moli (South City – America) Faimoto Lofipo & Palealii (Onehunga, New Zealand), Fetu Tiumalumatua Maifea & Naomi, Tiumalumatua Simona Leilua (Cabramatta, N.S.W.), Tafito Selesele & Penina (Onehunga, New Zealand), Lapana Laupu’a & Soteria (Gataivai, Salafai Sasa’e), Sitiveni T. Avei (Ofisa Faleula – Apia Sisifo), Esetia Letoga & Kuini (Cabramatta N.S.W.), Leatitagaloa Milo & Susana (Salepoua’e – Upolu Sisifo), Tini & Valelei Too (Saloga – Salafai Sasa’e), Ieremia La’auoleola Vai & Christina (Ofisa Faleula-Apia Sisifo), Mataio Malu (Failolo – Amerika Samoa) and Tony Eliu Poasa (Samata-i-Uta).
Bachelor of Divinity
Sitivi Jr Kamu Wright (Vaivase-Uta - Apia Sasa’e) , Fa’amanatu Tavita (Lauli’I – Amerika Samoa) Va’atausili Faiilagi (Vailele – Apia Sasa’e), Punaolefa’autauta Tausani Alao (Salamumu-Tai/Mesiana, Aukilani Matu) and Dorothea Tolofia Taeao Matua (Maagiagi – Apia Sasa’e)
TOP STUDENTS (YEAR 1- YEAR 4)
1st Year – Samoa Mata’afa
2nd Year - Apelu Fa’aniniva
3rd Year – Numia Tau’ave’a
4th Year – Tulei Jr Tulei