Cardinal Soane Patita Paini Mafi of Tonga is the new president of Caritas Oceania.
In an Instagram post, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand welcomed Cardinal Mafi to the position.
“This is an answer to our prayers here at Caritas, as we believe Cardinal Mafi will be an excellent steward of this organisation as he steers us through this uncertain time,” the post stated.
Caritas Oceania brings together highly diverse members, including Caritas Australia, Caritas Papua New Guinea, Caritas Samoa, Caritas Aotearoa-New Zealand, CEPAC (Caritas Pacific Islands) and Caritas Tonga.
Together, they work on climate change, emergency response, peace building and development — both in their own countries and in other parts of the world, the Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand website stated.
Cardinal Mafi’s appointment comes after the death of Sr Senolita Vakata, RSM, last month, who had been the president of Caritas Oceania.
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand joined with the wider Caritas family around the world to remember and honour Sr Senolita, who was the founding director of Caritas Tonga.
She was 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, a statement on the Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand website noted.
“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,” the statement added.
“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.”