A century for Sister Makalita

By Sialai Sarafina Sanerivi 21 March 2024, 6:10PM

Amidst the gentle rustle of palm leaves and the warm embrace of loved ones, Sister Malia Makalita Leaua'i, a revered figure in the Sister of the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary (S.M.S.M.) community, celebrated a monumental milestone on Thursday. 

She celebrated her 100th birthday and is the oldest nun still in service to the church.

Surrounded by family, friends, and esteemed guests, Sister Makalita's 100th birthday was one celebrated with a jubilant spirit that echoed a life dedicated to faith, service, and unwavering devotion.

Born on March 21, 1924, on the picturesque island of Manono, Sister Makalita stands as the eldest among her parents' thirteen children. 

Her journey into the sisterhood commenced on September 12, 1946, when she entered the novitiate at Moamoa. 

Since then, her path has traversed numerous villages in Samoa and beyond, including Aleipata, Lotofaga, Savalalo, Falefa, Vaimoso, Leulumoega, Safotu and Falealupo in Savai'i and even reaching distant shores in Fiji, New Zealand and American Samoa. 

As the sun painted the sky with hues of gold, a special mass reverberated with hymns of gratitude and joy, honouring Sister Makalita's century-long journey. 

Following the solemn ceremony, a joyous reception unfolded, adorned with laughter, tales of yesteryears, and heartfelt reminiscences.

Described by her spiritual sisters as a beacon of light, Sister Makalita embodies qualities of humour, diligence, and familial warmth. 

Her jovial disposition and quick wit have endeared her to all who have had the priviledge of crossing paths with her. 

She has been a source of entertainment, infusing gatherings with her infectious laughter and playful banter.

Reflecting on her remarkable journey, Sister Makalita attributes her longevity to a steadfast faith in the Lord's presence and obedience to divine authority. 

Her life's purpose, she believes, lies in joyfully serving God through unwavering commitment and silent prayer. 

With a heart filled with love and wisdom acquired over a century, Sister Makalita imparts her aspirations for future generations of nuns – a harmonious existence rooted in peace and patience.

For her younger sister, Sieni, memories of their childhood in Manono are intertwined with the discovery of a hidden gem within their family – Sister Makalita. 

Despite the physical distance that separated them during their formative years, Sister Makalita's legacy of faith and service has left an indelible mark on her family's collective conscience.

Among the esteemed guests who graced the occasion were the Apostolic Administrator of Samoa–Apia, Peter Brown, and the Leader of the Opposition party, Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, alongside leaders of the Catholic faith in Samoa. 

Their presence underscored the profound impact of Sister Makalita's life, resonating far beyond the confines of her community.

At the age of 100, Sister Makalita rose gracefully to acknowledge her guests with a traditional Samoan dance and expressed gratitude in a heartfelt speech for their presence at her centennial celebration. 

Despite experiencing hearing difficulties, requiring individuals to speak directly into her ear for communication, Sister Makalita shared during an interview with the Samoa Observer that she doesn't perceive herself as a centenarian.

"I still feel the same and I can still understand and remember everything," she giggled. 

"Even though I am old and cannot do most things I used to do when I was younger and fit, I can still do my prayers and have conversations with people especially my spiritual sisters. 

"I owe it to God and I am really grateful for his blessings upon me and my life."

By Sialai Sarafina Sanerivi 21 March 2024, 6:10PM
Samoa Observer

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