DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     December 20, 1999     vol. 10, no. 241


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      Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we spotlight each member of the Conclave in alphabetical order. We find this necessary as our dear Sovereign Pontiff Pope John Paul II grows older, clinging to hope, as we join him, of seeing the light of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart with the dawn of the new millennium - the Jubilee Year 2000. How much longer this 264th successor of Peter has left on this earth only God knows for sure, but His Divine Mercy is evident in allowing him to be with us this long for he truly is a saint for our times, truly Christ's Vicar on earth in these waning days before the glorious Reign of the Sacred Heart, the Time of Peace, the Era of the Eucharistic Presence, the New Pentecost, the Second Advent, the Age of the Holy Spirit. What 1999 will bring we have no idea, nor does anyone else, but with John Paul II at the helm, we feel much more secure in knowing God's Will will be done. Nevertheless, we want to preview the future Pope whether that be soon or much, much later, for no one lives forever and eventually one of those prelates will be selected as the 265th successor of Peter. This will give the reader a better insight into the man whom the Holy Spirit will move the conclave to choose. Thus we bring the reader vignettes on each cardinal in alphabetical order gleaned from the Catholic Almanac, The Official Catholic Directory, Inside the Vatican and other sources.

137.   Cardinal Pio Taofinu'u, S.M.

        Samoa's only home-bred member of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Pio Taofinu'u, S.M. was born on the Polynesian island of Samoa in Falealupo on December 9, 1923 in the Archdiocese of Samoa-Apia where he fostered a priestly vocation, attending the seminary in Moamoa in Western Samoa, then on to Wallis Island and completing his major scholasticate work at Green Meadows, New Zealand. He was ordained a priest on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception in 1954 and a year later transferred from a diocesan priest to become a member of the Society of Mary. As a Marianist priest he accompanied Bishop George Pearce of New Zealand to Vatican II. Returning to New Zealand he was appointed Vicar of Bishop Pearce's Diocese in 1964 for two years when he was made Vicar General. On January 11, 1968 Pope Paul VI made him a bishop, and he was ordained and installed as the new Bishop of Apia on May 29, 1968 becoming the first Polynesian bishop ever.

        That following November he headed up accommodations for Paul VI during his Papal Visit to the Samoan Islands, a great thrill for him and the people for it was the first time a Roman Pontiff had ever set foot on the islands in Oceania. During his time as Bishop of Apia Catholic schools increased as he put an important focus on education throughout his diocese. He established a Theological College for Catechists and Deacons in an effort to evangelize the Faith to all the islands. Paul VI was so impressed that he included him in his Consistory of March 5, 1973, receiving the red-hat and the titular church of St. Humphrey. On September 10, 1982 his see of Apia was elevated to a metropolitan see, becoming the Archdiocese of Samoa-Apia and Tokelau. Due largely to his tremendous efforts on evangelizing and the mushrooming Catholic population on the islands, the see was split by Pope John Paul II on June 26, 1992 with Tokelau becoming a separate diocese and Cardinal Taofinu'u continuing as Archbishop of Samoa-Apia where he has served as archbishop for seventeen years and thirty-one years as head of the Samoan see. At 76 he's still in charge but age is catching up with him and he may retire in a year or so. When he does the Samoan people will be sad and thankful for all he has done in contributing to the growth of Catholicism.

        The growth has been impressive since Catholicism wasn't brought to Western Samoa until 1845 and missions not established until 1870 when the Catholic population was 5,000. The first Samoan priest was ordained in 1892, but Cardinal Taofinu'u is its first native Polynesian bishop and cardinal. He has tripled the Catholic population since his time as shepherd.

December 20, 1999       volume 10, no. 241


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