Caritas remembers Sr Senolita Vakata rsm, President of Caritas Oceania
Kua tangi mai tētere ō te ārai ki a koe e te wāhine toa
Tēnei te mihi mamao mai Aotearoa
Rere tōtika, rere pai, rere runga rawa rā e.
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand joins with the wider Caritas whānau-whānui around the world to remember and honour Caritas Oceania President Sr Senolita Vakata rsm, who passed away on Wednesday. Sr Senolita was a true wāhine toa (strong woman) for her own people in Tonga, for the poor of the Pacific, and for the poor and oppressed around the world. As Founding Director of Caritas Tonga, she ensured that Caritas Tonga’s beacon continues to shine brightly in our region. However, she was also instrumental in the development of justice and peace structures across Oceania, the development of local Caritas organisations in neighbouring Samoa and Fiji, and in raising the voice of Oceania through international Caritas structures and meetings. She was stern in her questioning to get at the truth, and never afraid of pushing boundaries. Through all these roles, Sr Senolita maintained a strong and consistent presence on behalf of the poor and ‘the little people’, as she called them. She helped us understand what being ‘poor’ in the Pacific meant, and what were Pacific ways of putting love (caritas) into action. She will be remembered for her service to the poor, and a heart for the work of Caritas. She also had a great smile and a great laugh. She will be missed, but we know her spirit continues to watch over us, and will surely nudge the Caritas Oceania vaka in the right direction. At this time, our thoughts and prayers are with her community, the Sisters of Mercy, her family, Caritas Tonga, Cardinal Mafi and all in the Diocese of Tonga. Eternal rest grant unto to her Oh Lord, and let Perpetual light shine upon her. May she Rest in Peace.