A well-loved and respected Samoan priest, Msgr Lui Tevaga, died in Auckland on July 12, aged 72. Msgr Tevaga was ordained to the presbyterate by Blessed Pope Paul VI at the Vatican in 1975 and the priest went on to serve in several parishes in Samoa.

He was known for his green fingers as, in whatever parish he was shifted to, he would plant taro, bananas, tapiocas, avocados and other vegetables.

Panmure parish priest Fr Michael Endemann, who considered Msgr Tevaga as
his spiritual father, said that his mentor did this for parishioners.

“His philosophy behind that is so that the people won’t worry about taking care of the priest but feel free to come and participate in the Masses,” said Fr Endemann.

His contribution to his country and its people saw Msgr Tevaga awarded an Order of Merits Medal the then Samoan head of state Malietoa Tanumafili II.

In 1983, Msgr Tevaga took time out and travelled to Rome for renewal. He established Samoan communities in Sydney, Hawai’i and Los Angeles. In the 1990s, he was given full responsibility to organise the celebrations for 150 years of the Catholic Church in Samoa.

In 2007, his health deteriorated and this saw him travel to New Zealand for treatment, but he used every opportunity to evangelise.

Despite the priest’s ill-health, Bishop Patrick Dunn gave him the opportunity to continue his work in Auckland diocese.

He stayed with Fr Endemann and became spiritual father to many. At Msgr Tevaga’s funeral, Bishop Dunn said this priest had never done any “mixed marriages” as he had managed to convert the non-Catholic parties to Catholicism before going ahead with the weddings.

He also brought a lot of families back together.

With reports from R. Meleisea O’Callaghan.

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