Members of the Catholic Church at Afega are celebrating the official opening of their new church building.
The celebration started yesterday with numerous traditional presentations, namely the ta’alolo processions. It continued into the night with a Fiafia Night last night.
The finale will be a formal service, the first inside the church building, today.
As of yesterday, the land known as Tu’usavili, where the building is located, was the scene of jubilant singing, dancing and traditional formalities. It featured some of the biggest and most elaborate fine mats on the island, requiring several men to hold them out.
The Minister of the new Congregation, Rev. Silao Vaagai Salesulu, said this is an exciting time for members of the church as the celebration marks the realisation of a dream.
“It’s been humbling to see so many of our families, friends and supporters visit with ta'alolo and gifts,” he said.
The $400,000 building project started in November last year.
“We received contributions from Australia, New Zealand and other countries to help out with the project. Church members also raised $120,000 for the project.”
Yesterday, Rev. Silao confirmed that they raised a further $65,000 during the traditional presentations.
Asked about some of the challenges in building the project, Rev. Silao said there were no major challenges.
“We had an old building and we needed a new building because the number of church members is growing,” he said.
As for the generosity shown yesterday, Rev. Silao said: “I didn’t think we could raise this much.
“I expected around $30,000 but we got more than we expected. That money is just from the ta’alolo but we are also having a Fiafia Night tonight (last night) so we don’t know how much we will be getting from that event.”
Rev. Silao acknowledged the help from everyone in the village including families and friends.
The official opening starts at 10am this morning.