OCEANIA/FRENCH POLYNESIA - The Archbishop of Papeete: the local clergy and the formative turning point

Wednesday, 25 October 2023

Uturoa (Agenzia Fides) - On October 28, the Archbishop of Papeete, Jean Pierre Cottanceau, SS.CC., ordained a young Tahitian priest. Tareva TAITI is the name of the boy who has been a deacon for a year already with a view to the priesthood. "We cannot yet know what mission the archbishop will entrust to him after the ordination. The young man is part of the group formed at the Seminary of Orléans where there are five other young seminarians", writes Father Sandro Lafranconi, priest of the Society of African Missions (SMA) missionary in the Archipelago to Fides.
"For this event, the archbishop expressed his wish to make it a "diocesan event" intended in particular for young people," he adds. We, the Raromatai, can organize ourselves and respond positively because we do not have only a few hours of navigation to reach Tahiti, but from the other archipelagos, it will be more difficult for them to arrive. For us, it will already be complicated, but we will do everything. We have organized ourselves to bring together young people and raise funds. Moving more than eighty people to provide food and accommodation for four days as well as a four-hour sea voyage is no easy task. We would like everyone to be truly motivated by the reason for this four-day trip: Thursday, October 26 to arrive in Tahiti and then take part in the mass on Saturday 28 and Sunday, October 29 to take the boat and return to the different islands".
The missionary explained that the archdiocese of Papeete has had local clergy for years. "It also had two local bishops", he writes. The current Archbishop Cottanceau, to escape from geographical isolation and give a Catholic, that is to say universal, perspective, opted for the solution of training the future local clergy at the Seminary of Orléans and Tareva is precisely one of the first fruits of this formative turning point. "Training for the priesthood", explains Lafranconi, "is marked by a series of steps which become more and more important as the seminarian demonstrates a free, mature and joyful adherence to the requirements of the Catholic priesthood".
The priest of the Society of African Missions adds that with the priestly ordination of a young Tahitian newly trained at the seminary, the archbishop wants to revive priestly vocations among young Tahitians. "This is why he tries to invite around him young people who are less and less sensitive to the call to the priesthood. Among the difficulties which slow down the commitment of young people, there are the distances which are enormous, therefore outside from the island of Tahiti, the only ones who can respond are the other young people of the Society archipelago, that is, the Raromatai".

According to information sent to Fides by the Communications Office of the Archdiocese, there are currently 21 Polynesian priests to which deacon Tareva will be added, for a total of 22 Polynesian priests. The Archdiocese of Papeete has 15 diocesan priests in service; 5 non-incardinated diocesan priests in service; 7 religious, priests of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in service. The future priest was born in Papeete.
After obtaining his high school diploma, he obtained a degree in history and geography at the University of French Polynesia (UPF) and entered the Grand Séminaire Notre Dame de la Pentecost in Tahiti where he completed the two-year period of the 1st cycle (Philosophy). In 2019, Msgr. Jean-Pierre Cottanceau 'transferred' the seminary of Papeete and sent the Polynesian seminarians to continue their formation at the interdiocesan seminary Notre-Dame de l'Espérance in Orléans in France.
In June 2023, Taveta also obtained his Canonical Baccalaureate at the Catholic Institute of Paris. He was ordained deacon on Saturday, August 22, 2022 in the Archdiocese of Papeete, in the Church of St. Paul, his home parish in Tahiti. (SL/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 25/10/2023)