The doors to the newly-renovated Catholic Church at Afega were officially opened yesterday.
A church service commemorated the occasion, led by Archbishop Alapati Lui Mataeliga.
The church building dedicated to Saint Joseph was one of several buildings blessed in the ceremony.
Together with the church hall and the Minister’s house, the project has an estimated cost of $659,000.
His Highness the Head of State, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi and Masiofo Filifilia Efi were amongst the guests.
Others included priests as well as family and friends of the church followers.
In blessing the buildings and welcoming the church followers, Archbishop Mataeliga told the guests it was pointless to have the new buildings if there wasn’t anyone to make use of them.
He recalled a story of a priest and a visitor who had asked why there weren’t any decorations and flowers in a similar event.
In response, the priest told the visitor to come back the next day.
“On that day there was joy, there were celebrities in the place,” he remembered.
“There were singing and praying and the priest then told the visitor; ‘here are the flowers and decorations of the service’.
“No matter how beautiful this building is, if no-one is praying in it, then the word of God is not fulfilled - that his house is the house of prayer.”
The church has 24 families serving it.
Monsignor Etuale Etuale said the renovation started with a sum of $10,700 from Fa’alele Tuafuti.
The church conducted several fundraisers, through bingo, picking up rubbish and asking for donations, amongst others, to fund the buildings.
There were donations from the church community in Australia, Pago Pago and Savai’i, as well as from business people and individuals.
The Monsignor acknowledged the helping hand of those that gave money to build the house of God, and others that have pardoned debt owed.
From the total $659,000 cost of the buildings, including landscaping and a fence, the church still owes a debt of $158,000.
Church Secretary Lasi Tevaga said the work wasn’t all easy.
One of the major challenges faced by the church was being turned away during fundraising.
Renovation works started in November 2014, and were completed on Monday this week.
The initial plan was to refurbish part of the church, but during the process the congregation decided more needed to be done.
Serving the church is the Minister Rev. Silao Vaagai Salesulu and his wife Ana Vaagai Salesulu.
She had the honour of cutting the ribbon.