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WACOM Brings the World Mercy Conference to Samoa

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 22 MAY 2023: The 5th World Apostolic Congress on Mercy (WACOM) gets underway in Samoa on the theme ‘Ocean of Love that Envelopes the Whole World.’

First established in Rome in 2008, this is the first time this prestigious conference of Divine Mercy Groups of the Catholic faith has been held in Oceania following conferences in Poland in 2011, Columbia in 2014 and the Philippines in 2017. Samoa was to host in 2020 but delayed due of the COVID pandemic.

Father Spa Silver said there are at least 500 overseas delegates who travelled from as far as Europe, Asia and the Pacific attending the weeklong conference.

Participating countries include Poland, France, Lithnuia, USA, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Wallis & Futuna, American Samoa, Tokelau and Tonga,

Ocean of Love that Envelopes the Whole World
The conference was opened with an Ava Ceremony at the Catholic Pastoral Centre at Leauvaa last Saturday evening. The Deputy Prime Minister, Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio then welcomed all the delegates on behalf of Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa, Cabinet and people of Samoa.

“The last three hosts of WACOM were countries with larger economies and resources and we applaud with sincerity, gratefulness and respect the persistence, commitment and hard work of the late Archbishop which has led to our small island nation being chosen as the first in the Oceania to host WACOM,” said Tuala.

WACOM Poland sisters
WACOM Poland sisters

Sr. Maria Imakulata, Sr. Inga Miriam Kvassayova (Poland), Sr. M.T.Makialin Atunza (Poland) Minister for Finance, Mulipola Anarosa Molio’o & Sr. Fay at the welcome ceremony, Leauvaa.

“We are grateful and humble to host your Eminence, your Excellencies and all visitors, friends and families from around the globe as we count down to the conclusion of our yearlong celebration of the 60 years of independence. We are blessed to be surrounded and encompassed by oceans near and far,” said Tuala.

He then invited everyone to the commemoration of 178 years of Catholic Church in Samoa which will coincide with the closing of the yearlong celebration of Samoa’s 60th independence celebrations.

Tribute to Archbishop Alapati Lui Mataeliga
Both the Deputy Prime Minister and the Pope’s representative, Archbishop Franz Pewter Terbartz paid tribute to the late Archbishop Alapati Lui Mataeliga who passed away a few weeks ago.

“He is dearly remembered today and sorely missed as he was leading the coordination of the 5th WACOM, and while we are deeply saddened by his passing, we are rejoicing also knowing that his dream for this conference to be held in Samoa is being fulfilled in this Ocean of Love, encompassing us all in Gods divine mercy,” said Tuala.

His Excellency, Bishop Franz spoke highly of Archbishop Alapati when he took his Ava cup.

“Thank you for the great wisdom of Archbishop Alapati who died shortly before our meeting,” said Bishop Franz.

WACOM group
WACOM group

The Popes representative, Archbishop Franz Pewter Terbartz, the Vicar General, Fr. Pio Galumalemana, Fr. Spa Silva with the DPM, Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio and Finance Minister, Mulipola Anarosa Molio’o & some of the delegates.

The welcoming Ava Ceremony
WACOM not only brought the world to Samoa but has exposed the diversity of the Samoa tradition and culture such as the traditional Ava Ceremony.

The Ava ceremony was conducted by the village of Vaimoso.

The Popes’ representative, Archbishop Franz thanked God for all creations and for the beautiful gesture and for him to be chosen to be part of the event.

“Thank you God for this great ceremony, it shows how much people here are in charge of your creation and we thank you so much for being a member of this universal church. It is much worthy to be here for this ceremony,” he said.

WACOM Bishop ava
WACOM Bishop ava

The Pope’s representative, Archbishop Franz Pewter Terbartz taking his Ava during the welcome ceremony.

The evening then lit with a variety of Samoan entertainment provided by the vicariate youth.

The entertainment depicted the story of how the tattoo – tatau arrived in Samoa and the prediction by a Samoan woman warrior Nafanua of the coming of Christianity to Samoa.

On Sunday afternoon, the Pope’s representative, Archbishop Franz conducted the opening mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Mulivai.

The conference is scheduled for four days

Issues for the conference includes

  • Message and Mission according to St. Faustina
  • Revisiting the Spirit of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, 2017
  • The Face of Christ is the Face of the New Evangelization. Do we see Christ in the Poor and the Migrants of our Times?

There will also be testimonies by Samoa, Fiji, PNG, Australia, Tonga, USA, Philippines and New Zealand.

WACOM entertainment
WACOM entertainment

Some of the entertainment provided by the vicariate youth.