Archbishop John Dew
7 February 2011
Many in the archdiocesan community are concerned at apparent divisions following changes in the Samoan chaplaincy and misreporting in a number of community newspapers has added to people’s confusion.
Contrary to erroneous newspaper reports, I met Archbishop Alapati Mata’eliga on October 24 last year and subsequently accepted in writing his offer of two Samoan priests to work in the archdiocese. Reports that I had stopped masses in Newtown are simply untrue.
This whole sad situation came about when I appointed a lay pastoral leader to the Samoan Chaplaincy in the middle of last year. I explained to the catechists and leaders of the aulotus (Samoan communities) that I needed to appoint the Samoan priest to a parish as I had previously appointed the Tokelauan and now the Filipino chaplains to parish ministry. Many did not accept this decision and have continued to reject the new arrangements I have put in place.
The catechists refused to attend an initial meeting I called on May 26; they did not attend the commissioning of the lay pastoral leader or the chaplaincy mass on December 5.
At a meeting of the catechists on January 28 this year I have put those catechists who have rejected the lay pastoral leader’s appointment on indefinite leave from their duties. I have asked all the catechists to undergo a period of ongoing formation. I have also announced that I will be working with a group of Samoan parishioners to review the Constitution of the Chaplaincy and the Catechists’ Handbook.