Marist Old Pupils honour past, present, looks to the future

The inaugural Marist Excellence Service Awards Ball recognised 15 members of the Marist Brothers Old Pupils Association (M.B.O.P.A.) for their long, distinguished and outstanding service to Samoa.

Held at the Multipurpose Gym 3 on Saturday night, the recipients were: 

'Ae'au Seumanutafa Aiolupotea Tonumaipe'a Taulupo'o Lafaiali'i, Brother Casimir Jude Foley, Fuimaono Fia'ailetoa Taveuveu Tuputala, George Michael Lober, Brother Iulio Iosefa Suaesi, Leali'ie'e Rudy Ott, Mataafa Fiame Faumuina Mulinuu II, Muliagatele Brian Lima, Patrick Komisi Chan Mow, Chief Justice Patu Tiava'asu'e Falefatu Maka Sapolu, Oloipola Terrence Betham, Oscars Albert Thomas Meredith, Sapa'u Lilomaiava Lolesio Vitale, Taisi Olaf Nelson, and Tupua Tamasese Meaole. 

The award was part of the 130th anniversary of Marist Brothers' Education in Samoa.

M.B.O.P.A. President, Tuatagaloa Aumua Ming Leung Wai said the task of selecting those deserving of receiving awards was difficult. 

"The awards will take place every five years to include those who are also deserving of the recognition. Who knows, perhaps some old girls will receive awards in five years’ time. The Marist Brothers' have taught many boys since 1888 (and girls from 1993) when they started Marist Brothers' School, Mulivai, Apia, Samoa in 1888,” Tuatagaloa said. 

"The boys they taught became leaders in all aspects of life like Government, churches, villages and families. They contributed in shaping the nation of Samoa to what it is now.

“They were the forefront of Samoa’s struggle for Independence as noted by the strong advocacy and sacrifice by Ta’isi Olaf Frederick Nelson, who was educated at Marist Brothers’ School from 1889 to 1896.”

Tuatagaloa said other old boys such as Tupua Tamasese Mea’ole and Malietoa Tanumafili II played pivotal roles in designing the type and form our Government was to adopt in the lead up to independence. 

He said it was no surprise these two old boys later became joint Head of States when Samoa became an independent nation. 

“The first Prime Minister of Samoa was an old boy, Mataafa Fiame Faumuina Mulinuu II. In fact, all Prime Ministers of Samoa were all old boys except for one. After independence, the old boys continued to play important roles in the development of Samoa.

“The longest serving Chief Justice is Patu Tiava’asu’e Falefatu Maka Sapolu whose well researched and well written judgements have raised the quality of jurisprudence in Samoa and earned him the respect of his peers in the Pacific and beyond. 

“Other professions, especially accounting, are also dominated by old boys such as Oloipola Terrence Betham, Matataualiitia Afa Lesa and the late Sala Isitolo Leota to name a few.”

He also said many businesses are owned and managed by old boys. Tuatagaloa said these old boys continue to give back to the community financially and through various charitable activities. 

“We recognise a handful of them in the likes of Leali'ie'e Rudy Ott, George Michael Lober, and Patrick Komisi Chan Mow. Within M.B.O.P.A., there are so many old boys (and recently some old girls) who are dedicated and committed members such as Matai’a Vensel Magraf, Tuala Tamalelagi Tom Annandale and the late Lealaiauloto Aniseto Chan Ting. But we recognise Sapa'u Lilomaiava Lolesio Vitale, and past president, the late Fuimaono Tuputala,” Tuatagaloa added.

He added Marist Brothers introduced rugby and boxing to Samoa. 

“Boxing was dominated by Marist boxers as the school had a boxing ring and produced talented boxers such as Hans Kruse Magele Henry Penn and James Meredith. During the 1983 South Pacific Games and under the guidance of Oscar Meredith, Samoa won gold in all boxing divisions except for one – a feat that has never been repeated.

“Marist Brothers’ schools have also produced so many rugby greats, some of whom ended up becoming All Blacks, like Soifua John Shuster and Nepo Laulala. Another famous old boy is Muliagatele Brian Lima, who played in five rugby World Cups and was indicted into the Rugby’s Hall of Fame.

“So many Marist Brothers are deserving of awards but we recognise two whose service and sacrifice is unquestionable, namely the late Brother Casimir Foley and Brother Iulio Suaesi. I acknowledge all the members of M.B.O.P.A. who have worked tirelessly in making this 130 years anniversary successful, including our families, friends and supporters,” he added. 

The programme included a performance by the newly crowned Miss Samoa, Sonia Piva, along with entertainments by Solace Band, On Fire Band, Siva Afi dance crew, Saint Joseph's College dance crew, and a special appearance by Punialavaa.

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