New Year Greetings to Your Eminence, Cardinal Paini Mafi. And blessings of the New Year to you all, the Apifo'ou Family both at home and abroad. Welcome to our Alma Mater, our beloved Apifo'ou College, and especially this journey we now embark on for the New Academic Year 2024.
This week the Director for Catholic Education and all the members of the Catholic Education System gathered at the Bp Patelisio Finau and Knight Sofele Kakala Hall. This was an opportunity for all the workers in the vineyard of the Lord in terms of Catholic Education to be addressed, empowered, and blessed by the Bishop of Tonga and Niue, Cardinal Mafi, before we embark on the mammoth task of molding the future of the diocese which amounts to all the children in our system.
The rest of the week was left to the respective schools to continue with their Planning Week. At Apifo'ou, the overall spirit at the college was that of joy, relief, and deeper appreciation due to the marked improvements in our exam results from last year. For the first time after some years the Form 6 results recorded a 31% pass rate, which is to say that 33 students out of 129 passed their exams.
Frankly, the most fulfilling sentiment is the conviction that the solid foundations that we have laid in these past years are beginning to bear fruit. Now the teachers believe that we can go further than that towards obtaining optimum learning outcomes for this coming year. I've reminded the teachers that we didn't have to prove to others our potentials. Rather, we merely prove to ourselves, first and foremost, that together we can rise despite the obstacles we encounter daily.
Seen above is the new DP Curriculum, Ms. Laumanu Ma'afu, presenting the Year Planner. Seen below is the Chairperson of the PTA, Mrs. Malia Lita Fisilau, presenting the PTA Plans for 2024.
Seen above is Dr. Leonaitasi Hoponoa, delivering some key concepts on how to maintain that level of professionalism and discipline in the task ahead.
Seen above is another son of Mary venturing into the bigger picture as far as rugby career is concerned. 'Aleki Siale captained the National U16 NRL Team to Australia. In the process he secured a contract with the North Queensland Cowboys Rugby League Club. He came to bid goodbye to his Apifo'ou Family before departing for Townsville, Queensland. Go 'Aleki with Our Lady of the Way!
Seen below (in front to the right) is the Parish Priest of Kauvai, Fr. 'Anaua, in a moment of deep reflection around the tano'a. He toiled at 'Apifo'ou for many years!
Bits & Pieces of News toward the end of last year 2023
The alumni 69-71 ex-'Apifo'ou scholars gathered in Tonga for their Reunion. They had a few key activities, but they started at Toutaimana with a courtesy visit to His Eminence. They ended the reunion in style with a Ball at the Bp Finau & Sir Sofele Kakala Hall. The massive achievement by our Marist Apifo'ou Team in winning the lucrative 'Crusaders for Christ Rugby Tournament' in Tonga has also helped to set the tone for this year's sporting events.
I left at the beginning of the school holidays for my Jubilee Trip to mark my Silver Jubilee as a Priest and 30 years as a Marist! The key focus of the trip was to meet and thank all those people who have been part of the journey to the Priesthood right up to this juncture. I started off in Fiji where I had spent about 30 years in study and mission. The trip then moved to Aotearoa to spend time with my Kiwi family who adopted me while studying at St. Pat's College (Town) in Wellington. The trip ended up in the US with my younger brother and family.
Fiji Leg of the Jubilee Trip
Seen above is my older brother Fr. Lutoviko and Fr. McGuire joining me during the Jubilee Mass in Suva.
The traditional 'sevusevu' as part of the Fijian welcome to the jubilarian in Suva.
Well, my Jubilee Trip was already special from Tonga! My former students from Cawaci treated me to 1st Class from Fua'amotu to Nadi, Nadi to Christchurch, and Nadi to San Francisco. These former students are doing pretty well at Fiji Airways.
I was very grateful that our AFC Executive Committee Members in Auckland hosted me and Fr. Lutoviko to lunch and it was a wonderful opportunity to catch up and discuss the progress of the college and other associated matters with all of them.
Gathering with the Executive Members in Auckland. Indeed grateful to Lita Foliaki, Peta, Maka Pailate, Solomone, Viliami Lavaka, Dr. Vaipuna, etc. for their hospitality.
Souvenir photos with my Kiwi parents above in Wellington and Principal of St. Bede's in Christchurch below. I was thrilled to find that Bill & Anne (above) still keep the following photos at their home from my Ordination 25 years ago in Tonga.
Seen below is Bill and Fr. Roderick Milne sm, former Principal of Apifo'ou in early 1980s.
Part of the NZ Trip was to be with my brother 'Etuate and 'Akata, with their family. It was such a joy as well to attend the graduation of my niece and mum's namesake, Maliana Sisifa, who graduated with BA & BCom from Otago University. I asked her to come teach at 'Apifo'ou but she told me she'll spend a few years there then come!
Seen above is the Tongan Catholic community at Dunedin. Such joy to see 'Ulalia Vainikolo there who looks well. Her daughter Finau helps to draw up the Menu for our athletes each and every year.
The last stop of my Jubilee Trip was the US of A. I was delighted to have a meeting with the Executive Committee there. I also had the opportunity to be hosted by Radio Apifo'ou Global from Texas, trying to make good use of these opportunities to thrash-out the planning activities for the college according to the Master Plan.
Seen below are Rev. Alex Latu, Lui Vaitaki and me while on air at Radio 'Apifo'ou Texas.
May I take this opportunity to acknowledge once again the generous support and prayers for the previous academic year. Now that we're on the right track towards elevating the standard of the college to yet another level, we once again call upon your prayers and support in whatever kind or form for this new academic year 2024.