12 Sept 2013
Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Taisi Efi, Marist Mulivai Hall, Sunday 01 September 2013
I have been asked to say the official goodbyes. I want to say goodbye and thank you by telling you why I’m here. This morning after Mass, Filia said we should go home we have a few things to attend to. I said I feel a strong sense of bonding and I want to stay. Then she said, we didn’t bring a to’ana’i. And I said, it doesn’t matter.
And that is, as in Hamlet, the question: What matters?
What matters is that we are celebrating one hundred and twenty five (125) years of Marist Mulivai. I am seventy five (75) and I don’t expect to be alive for the next Jubilee in twenty five (25) years – which makes this Jubilee very special for me.
More so because I am a flag-bearer not only for my grandfather, father and brother who went to Marist Mulivai but also for all my friends that I went to school with.
When I meet the iconic Sapa’u Lolesio, I feel a lift and a pang. He’s older than me and yet he looks younger. I look at his face and then in a quick survey of the crowd I become wistfully conscious that many of our contemporaries have passed on. I cannot resist saying to myself, don’t ever miss an opportunity to share and to say, I love you, because it may be for the last time.
I’m here because I want to bond and connect with my spiritual home, which is the Marist milieu of comradeship and camaraderie. For it is in this environment that I find my bearings in as much as my spiritual home is like Cardinal Newman’s kindly light which leads amidst the encircling gloom.
I want to thank the teachers, both religious and lay, the students and their parents, the Old Boys and the Old Girls and the Marist family inside and outside Samoa for reminding us about why the Marist spirit endures. It is because it is spawned and nurtured by love, sacrifice and struggle. It is sustained by joy and the spirit of sharing. It is premised on a powerful sense of family which reminds me of Brother Pamphelius’ emphasis when he prods “a family that prays together” (and as students we would respond) “is a family that stays together”.
I want to say at this point, it is equally important to pray at the beginning and at the end. To say “hello” is as important as to say “goodbye”. And this is my goodbye message to all of you. “Dear God and our Blessed Mother Mary and St Joseph, give us a heart that is loving and grateful for the gift of the Marist family”.
Lastly, on behalf of the Marist family in Samoa, I want to say to Bishop Browne and Brother Richard, it is a privilege and a pleasure to share this special moment with you.
Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Taisi Efi - Head of State of the Samoa. Proud Marist Old Boy.