Back in History: Fiji’s first local archbishop

Petero Mataca was Fiji’s first local archbishop. Picture: SUPPLIED

The Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Suva, The Most Reverend Petero Mataca, was appointed Fiji’s first local archbishop in April 1976.

In The Fiji Times report on April 28 1976, it was stated that the archbishop would lead Fiji’s 50,000 Roman Catholics. Archbishop Mataca succeeded Archbishop George Pearce.

The resignation by Archbishop Pearce and the appointment of Bishop Mataca was announced by the Pope from the Vatican in April.

Installation of the new archbishop was due to take place in June, the archdiocesan office in Suva said.

No reasons were given for Archbishop Pearce’s resignation, but he had in recent years suffered long periods of poor health. Archbishop-elect Mataca was the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Suva.

He was born at Cawaci, Ovalau, in 1933 and was ordained in 1959.

He served as a priest in Ra from 1960 to 1963, taught at Suva from 1964 to 1966, when he was appointed Vicar General.

From 1967 to early 1970, he was the administrator of the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Suva as well as the priest of the Raiwaqa parish.

He was the rector of the Pacific Regional Seminary since February 1973 and was ordained auxiliary bishop in December 1974.

He administered the archdiocese during Archbishop Pearce’s absence from Fiji in 1974 to 1975.

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