An exact replica of the Little Chapel of Apparitions in Fatima, Portugal, is set to be in Samoa after it was chosen by the World Apostolate of Fatima (WAF) to become one of its regional centres in the world.
JR Pereira, the first person from Oceania to be elected as a member of the WAF Board of Directors, told NZ Catholic that they are trying to raise WST$1.5 million, or around NZ$872,000, to build a Samoan fale that will house the official replica chapel.
The decision to build the chapel was made during the Oceania Regional Congress of the WAF held in Samoa in 2019. Then WAF International President, Professor Americo Pablo Lopez-Ortiz, was there.
“Before the end of the conference, I think he was quite impressed with the preparations and the programme . . . he said to me that Samoa will become the sixth centre for Fatima. It means that Samoa has to build a sanctuary, a replica of the chapel in Fatima,” Mr Pereira explained.
Mr Pereira confessed that, although he carried the rosary in his pocket from a young age, he only started praying it after visiting the pilgrimage site in 2017.
“Since 2017, I have to say that the influence of Fatima and Mother Mary for me has grown significantly,” he said.
“My faith as a Catholic was very strong even though I wasn’t active. But going to Fatima sort of reassured me, restrengthened me. The work of Mother Mary and the message is very much needed,” he added.
The following year, he was asked to help prepare and organise for hosting the second WAF Conference in Oceania. He was also asked by Samoa Archbishop Alapati Lui Mataeliga to head the WAF Samoa.
“I’ve been travelling all over the place to look for funds. We have basically completed the chapel, but we have to build this huge Samoan fale because the chapel will be inside this Samoan fale,” he said.
Mr Pereira explained that the fale, a traditional Samoan house, is very important because it represents their people.
“So, inside this Samoan fale, inside us Samoans, Mother Mary’s chapel will sit,” he said.
Mr Pereira said that they will call the area where the centre is situated “Malololelei city”. It sits on top of the Vailima hills.
“The story goes that, when people were walking on one side of the island to get to the other side, that is usually the place where they come to rest. Malololelei means good rest. So, it’s ideal that Mother Mary would be resting there,” he said.
Mr Pereira said that the structure of the chapel is already built, but they haven’t started with the finishings yet, as these (finishings) will be worn out by the elements. The fale will protect the chapel from the harsh sun or bad weather.
He said that they plan to start building the fale this month (February). They hope to finish construction of both the fale and the chapel by the end of 2024 at the latest.
Apart from the chapel, Mr Pereira said that there is also a need to create a WAF board for Oceania.
“I think . . . that the work for Fatima within our region in Oceania needs to be better promoted to the parishioners in the region,” he said. “We need to set up a body and board within Oceania. New Evangelisation is so critical today.”
The term “New Evangelisation” is associated with Saint John Paul II, who defined the core of Fatima’s message as that of conversion.
“With what we see around us now, we need to pray the rosary for our families and for the whole world,” Mr Pereira said.
Mr Pereira will be organising fundraising events in Wellington and Christchurch. One was held in Te Atatu, Auckland in December, 2022.
He said that those who would like to help build the chapel and centre can donate to the World Apostolate of Fatima – SAMOA, National Bank of Samoa (NBS) Account number: 0 202164013
(Swift code: NBSLWSWSXXX).