Eighty years is a milestone and for Sister Emanuela Betham, that’s precisely what her birthday celebration was about on Wednesday night.
The former Principal of St. Mary’s College who has been serving the Catholic Church for many years celebrated her birthday with relatives, friends and church members at Kokobanana Restaurant.
Among her special friends present was the Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi and Her Highness Filifilia Tamasese.
The daughter of the late Gus Victor Betham and Sesilia Betham, of Leagiagi, Aleipata, Sr. Emanuela is grateful to God Almighty for all her years on earth.
From her humble beginnings at Saleaumua Primary School, Sr. Emanuela’s life has been one well lived.
She has spent time in Rome strengthening her faith and she has also spent time in the many European countries as well as the United States of America.
But her heart has always been for Samoa.
Her involvement with the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary (S.M.S.M) is testament of her commitment to Samoa and the Catholic Church.
“My calling in S.M.S.M was perhaps influenced by the Marist spirituality and mission in Samoa,” she said, thinking back to December 1958 when it started.
“The first seven years I spent in Rome, (as a sister). It took me to neighboring countries of Europe, the United States, Ireland, Peru, Jamaica and elsewhere.
“During that time, I immersed myself in the religious and the catholicity of the Vatican City.”
Travelling the world made her fall in love with Samoa even more, she said.
“At this time wherever I went, I felt so special and more often than not, I had to explain or describe my ‘atunu’u pele’ o Samoa and it’s global location,” she said.
“I felt that it took this time of being away from home – Samoa, to really and truly appreciate and value other countries, their ways of living and of doing things.”
Thinking back, Sr. Emanuela says one of the most rewarding experiences for her came from teaching. When she returned from Rome, she taught at several Catholic schools and eventually became the Principal of St. Mary’s College.
“As principal of St. Mary’s College Vaimoso, I tried to continue and keep up the excellent academic reputation and special ‘Agaga Kerisiano’ spirit our predecessors, teachers and ex-students had given the college,” she said, adding that she has many fond memories from her time there.
Today, Sr. Emanuela said she is content with her life. She spends most of her time studying, researching history, and giving back to the community where she can.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank my friends, families, nieces, nephews, especially to Leali’ie’e Rudy Ott and my sister Beatrice for everything,” she said. “My prayer of thanksgiving, first and always – to Jesus my Lord and God and Friend who lives and walks with me. I also want to thank all who had contributed to who I am today, and others who continue to be part of me in this journey…fa’afetai mo le agalelei ma le onosa’i.”