Auckland diocese has lost a popular priest with the death of Fr Ikensasio Vitaliano on February 1.
Fr Vitaliano had been suffering from cancer of the tongue. He was 65 years old when he died at Mercy Parklands.
Born in Samoa in 1954, Fr Vitaliano was ordained to the presbyterate by Bishop Denis Browne in Auckland in 1989.
A vigil Mass was celebrated at Beach Haven on February 6 and a requiem Mass at Mangere East on February 7, both attended
by large congregations.
At the requiem, Bishop Patrick Dunn welcomed those who had travelled from Samoa. He offered the congregation’s special
love and affection to the late priest’s mother Sofia and the family.
Bishop Dunn also noted the response when he posted news of Fr Vitaliano’s death to social media.
“I find it very interesting that when I announced on facebook that Father Ikie had died, in the last few days, there have been
25,000 views — unprecedented — and many beautiful comments about Fr Ikie and how he touched their lives.”
The bishop also noted that the homily was to be given, at Fr Vitaliano’s instruction, by his cousin, Fr Tovia Lui, from Samoa.
Fr Lui spoke, in English and Samoan, of his cousin’s openness and social nature — adding that he was so enthusiastic that
he was prone to interrupting conversations.
“He lived among you as a priest and he journeyed with you to the end,” Fr Lui said. “Towards end of life, I heard from him a sense of gratitude and joyfulness.”
Fr Vitaliano was an assistant priest at Papatoetoe, Hauraki Plains, Mt Albert, Mangere East, Avondale, Onehunga and
He also served in the Samoan chaplaincy in Grey Lynn in the 1990s and did supply work at Waitaruke.
He was parish priest of Mt Wellington and later of Beach Haven.
Fr Vitaliano’s body was interred at Panmure in the Catholic burial grounds.