Tongan Catholic Chaplaincy
Guest blog by Hila’atu Tuli, Tongan Catholic Chaplaincy
The Tongan Catholic Chaplaincy Coordinating Team works with leaders and members from 22 different Tongan Catholic communities across Auckland and Hamilton. The Tongan Catholic Chaplaincy was established in Auckland in the early 1970s to cater for the growing needs of Tongan Catholics in Auckland. It is estimated that as many as 5,000 members make up the population of our community within Auckland alone.
Earlier this year it was agreed that as a community we would allow the lataki (youth) to educate us (parents) on what is suitable to them and what we as parents should focus on to build stronger relationships with our children.
Blessing puts team into action
With the blessing of our Chaplain, Fr Line Folaumoeloa, a team of parents, youth advisors, social workers, teachers, Sunday School coordinator and team, a priest, nuns and youth leaders held meetings to work out our solutions to building stronger relationships and issues effecting young people, including the growing problem of suicide.
After extensive meetings and group discussions it was very clear that lack of communication within the family was a common denominator. This also identified other influences such as culture clash, prioritising, unemployment and language as underlying components.
Family prayer and communication
It was decided that it made sense to address the issue of communication first.
This was to be done in the form of praying as a family. The lataki put together a booklet that they as youth members believe would work for them and their families. The form of prayer is known by the Catholic Church as a novena which is a prayer that is to be prayed in nine consecutive days with the same intention (our youth and the choices they make).
The programme received positive emotional and encouraging feedback. There were suggestions that a follow-up was put in place, which would allow time to connect and that it should accommodate at least 150 people. So a weekend retreat was planned, which Le Va was pleased to offer support to enable these conversations to occur.
His love is everlasting
The weekend carried the theme of Ko ‘ene ‘ofa ‘oku ta’engata (His love is everlasting). Although youth members attended the weekend, it was more of a time for parents to reflect on themselves and evaluate their own relationships with their children. The weekend was also a wonderful opportunity to share stories and different experiences on how easy it is to communicate love in so many ways and forms.
Included in the line-up of speakers was a youth representing the Lataki. As powerful were the many emotional testimonies from parents … one mother shared that she had accepted the fact that her current method of communicating with her teenage children (once every two weeks was the norm).. however after having the opportunity to hear the positive effects on parent and their children sitting down together as a family three to four times a week to share a meal and talk … she realised what she was missing out on so much.
The weekend was also a wonderful opportunity to share stories and different experiences on how easy it is to communicate love in so many ways and forms.
Called to mission
Much of the testimonies shared affirmed Fr Niukapu’s message referring to the importance of authentic communication, and the significance of putting words into action and encouraging everyone to realise that we are called to mission. This means taking a step towards being more supportive with what our children are involved in, such as the lataki.
The time together over the weekend also included connecting through fun and essential activities including Zumba, song and mass celebration.
We are excited about the plans we have going forward, which will look to support and strengthen our young people and adult relationships in communications, participation, activities and spiritually.