A tribute to a commitment to family and culture
Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese
Head of State
Eulogy at Lepea Parish Memorial Service 15 October 2016
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to say something.
I stand before you not as Head of State but as an old pupil of St. Mary’s Primary School, Savalalo.
It is through this strong sense of bonding that while I was in New Zealand recently, I visited Sr. Mary Anastasia at Silverstream when I was in Wellington and I visited Sr. Emerentiana when I came up to Auckland.
This morning I am delighted to see Brother John Hazelman speaking on behalf of Sr. Pat’s family because he is the son of Lydia or Miss Williams, one of my teachers at St. Mary’s, Savalalo.
On Sr. Pat’s last visit to Samoa, I was told that she was terminally ill and I invited her, Sr. Emanuela and Sr. Losalia for lunch at Vailele. The lunch was a lively and joyful sharing but the farewell was tearful and sad. For each one of us was conscious that we may not see Sr. Pat again in this life.
Today I feel the Spirit calling me to speak about Sr. Pat’s life and achievements.
Who would have dreamt that one day a daughter of Samoa would head a worldwide congregation of religious – the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary? Who would have thought that she would hold this position for two terms totalling fourteen years? That she would reside in the headquarters of the Order in Rome, the capital city of Catholicism? That through her position she would be privy to consultations and deliberations at the highest level of the Church hierarchy? Her service of leadership for the Marist Missionary Sisters worldwide no doubt would have been enriched by exposure to this rapport.
Her stint in Rome and latterly in Fourviere, France, underlines reciprocity or faataualofa i.e. the duty to reciprocate love and goodness. Because her work in both places reflected an expression of gratitude for the Church’s initiative and commitment in sending missionaries and teachers to the South Pacific.
In our culture, we support our sons and daughters in their undertakings with prayers and moral encouragement. When their mission in life is blessed by God, we raise our voices in praise and affirmation, Aku e, ua malo le tautai!. which literally means “Bless you for such a fine catch!” It can also mean, “Bless you for such a worthwhile life!” or, “Thank you God for guidance and blessing.”
One of the outstanding features of her life was her commitment to family and her culture. When she visited Samoa she would always make a point of bringing gifts for the old and the young of her family. In her bag she would always carry a Rosary, a Prayer book and a titi and sei fulumoa, her dancing attire. This is evidence of her commitment to her spiritual life, her family.and her culture.
This is my testimony to the life and achievements of Sister Patricia.
I end with a traditional prayer: If there are blessings from her good works, dear God let them fall on her Order and the Church, on her family, on her country and her culture.