Archbishop returns from 3 week visit to Fiji, Samoa and Aotearoa, New Zealand
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, concluded a 3 week visit to Fiji, Samoa and Aotearoa, New Zealand by preaching at a joint Anglican and Roman Catholic Ash Wednesday service at the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Invited by the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, the Archbishop began his visit in Fiji, where he met with Archbishop Fereimi Cama and the country’s President Jioji Konrote. The Archbishop had a wide ranging discussion with the Head of State which included Climate Change.
He spent time with clergy, preached at a Eucharist service at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Suva and visited St Christopher’s orphanage in Nakasi where he planted five trees and met the staff and children who live there.
Moving on to Samoa, the Archbishop was welcomed at Apia International Airport with a Kava ceremony and he blessed the new airport and runway. Later on he met the Head of State and then the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Malielegaoi, and then spent time with church leaders and parishioners listening and thinking how the church in Samoa can share the good news of Jesus Christ in today’s world. A meeting with the Chief of Poutasi Village, where the Archbishop was previously made a ‘Matai’ (Chief) To’osavili, provided an opportunity to hear how people have worked together to rebuild community following the extensive damage by the Samoa earthquake and tsunami in 2009.
Archbishop Sentamu then travelled to Aotearoa New Zealand where he received a traditional Maori formal welcome in Gisborne, and was hosted by Archbishop Don Tamihere. Again, the Archbishop spent time with local clergy with a focus on evangelism, discipleship and family, whilst also taking time to visit significant sites such as the Rangiriri Invasion site and later met King Tuheitia Potatau Te Wherowhero VII and visited Taupiri Maunga – a mountain sacred to Waikato-Tainui and their tribal identity.
With commitments for meeting, leading, speaking and preaching, the Archbishop’s busy schedule concluded in Christchurch with participation in several Ash Wednesday services in schools, the Transitional Cathedral and concluding preaching at a joint Catholic-Anglican service at St Mary’s (Catholic) Pro Cathedral. A highlight of the day was marking ashen crosses on the foreheads of people outside the damaged Anglican Cathedral in the Square.
The Most Revd. Philip Richardson, Primate and Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia said, “It has been such a joy to have Archbishop John and Reverend Margaret with us over the past few days. They are wonderful friends of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. They understand so much of who we are as a church. Over the years they have visited us, experienced our life, listened with great care and have a deep appreciation of both our history and our aspirations. They are a part of us and always will be.”
On his return to the UK, the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu said, “I last visited Fiji, Samoa and New Zealand in 2015 and it was wonderful to return and see familiar faces as well as new ones. Meeting people who have a heart for their communities and a desire to promote the common good and work together in this was truly heartwarming. My prayer for The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia is that they will be confident in the message that they have to share about our Creator God who loves us and wants us to know him more through his Son Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Every Blessing!”