by JENNY McPHEE
Eseta Kaio has been awarded the papal award Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice from Pope Francis in recognition of her years of tireless service to the Church and society.
Mrs Kaio, born in Samoa and the eldest of 13 children, was educated at the Catholic school in the village of Lotofago.
She was the first of her siblings to move to New Zealand, coming to Christchurch to look after an unwell aunt.
She met her husband-to-be at a Church function.
Mrs Kaio and Vivesio (now deceased) had three children: Evelyn, Sonya and Joseph. She now has eight grandchildren.
Those present at the presentation for her award heard how, within her parish in Hornby in Christchurch, she provides a valuable link to her Samoan community through the Samoan choir, catering for parish functions and funerals, organising cultural events, teaching and taking part in performances.
She makes time to attend a friendship group, a prayer group and a rosary group. As an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, she visits the elderly, the sick and the housebound.
In her spare time she cleans the church, arranges the flowers and joins a group of women who form a prison visiting team in order to support Catholic chaplains at monthly services in Rolleston Prison and Christchurch Women’s Prison.
Mrs Kaio’s fellow parishioners are said to see her as someone who is always there in a practical way, looking after her sister, nieces and nephews, children and grandchildren; anyone who needs her. She is described as a follower of Christ in every sense, and the most humble and self- effacing person.
Her fellow parishioners feel privileged to know her.