I still marvelled at the size of the Republic 0f Nauru. A minute coral island about 40kms south of the equator in the Central Pacific. A mere 20kms in circumference and about 300m above sea leve. We Missionaries of the Sacred Heart have had a long association with the Nauruans as it was on the 8th of December 1902 that the first MSC Priest, Father Grundl, took up residence. During the last 113 years, except when disturbed by war, the MSC’s have continually ministered to the Catholic Community. In mid-December 2014 I visited Nauru and found that Father Simon Kokoria MSC, the Parish Priest and his parishioners busily preparing to celebrate Confirmation for 130 of their parishioners The main purpose of my visit was to inspect projects we have on the Island, and to be with Bishop Paul Mea MSC, who I first met when he was a seminarian in Port Moresby. We have remained close friends for over 40 years.
After the Sunday Mass we processed to the new class-rooms for the blessing ceremony. These class-rooms were the result of the Parishioners contributing A$100,000 to purchase the building, and the MSC Mission Office provided the balance of $257.000.
For many years our Office has also providing finance, religious literature and more recently containers full of items of furniture etc. to be used among others by refugees. Ever since I offered Mass for the survivors of the Tampa many years ago, my heart has been distressed and perplexed by the cruel solutions we offer total strangers. Scripture says to welcome the stranger. The Pacific Solution is NO SOLUTION but a woeful example of not trying hard enough. It is not too late to act with compassion. Australia must solve her problems at home, and not dump them overseas. I was told by one of the citizens of Nauru that the present solution is disastrous, and will ultimately cause great harm to the Islanders From everything I saw, read and hear I must say the keeping of refugees on Nauru is devoid of logic, fairness and compassion
While on the Island I visited refugees now living outside the camps in their new cramped rooms. Also with Sr. Anna OLSH I visited one of the Camps with the Parish Youth Group and sang Christmas Carols along with them. While in the camp I spoke to many of the refugees, and gave some encouraging words about the Good News of Jesus. Many of the refugees we met came from Sri Lanka and French speaking parts of Africa. Sr. Anna Kaburoro OLSH from Kiribati some years ago cared for me for 5 days when I was very sick in hospital at Majuro in the Marshall Islands. I have come to greatly admire her kindness, but even more so as I see her unassuming ministry to the refugees on Nauru. She once wrote to me. “When Nauru re-opened the refugee Camp I immediately resolved to help these suffering people. During the last years my love for them has grown deeper and deeper. They are greatly hurt and seek peace. Since working with them I have seen many changes in their lives. They are open and willing to share their sad stories, and how they have been tortured and persecuted in so many ways. I have been able to assist eight families to be received into the Church. They approach me and ask for this assistance. They want to send their children to our Parish School.” Each Sunday a number of refugees, both those outside the camps and those still inside, attend the Sunday Mass. Fr. Simon, a rather quiet man from Kiribati, also offers Mass inside the Camps. Normally he has three Masses every Sunday. Fr. Adrian F. Meaney MSC
A good number form Iran show great interest in the teachings of the Church, and the Parish Priest There is no doubt that Nauru is a place of mixed blessings. But for the people involved with the refugees and for the people they assist God provided many graces.
This year we have sent 4 containers to the Catholic Community in Nauru and many of the items have been used for the refugees
In their new homes. We have a container on our Monastery over soon to be sent to Nauru.
Photo- blessing of new class-rooms Fr. Michael McKenzie (Kiribati0, Bishop Paul Mea MSC, Fr. Simon Kokoria MSc Fr. Adrian F. Meaney MSC
And local altar servers.