Fr Alatini’s lifelong mission for Christ

By Jordan Grantham, 7 June 2018
Fr Alatini Kolofo'ou SM, Chaplain to the Tongan Catholic Community. Photo: Diocese of Parramatta

Fr Alatini Kolofo’ou SM is the main Chaplain of the Tongan Catholic Community in greater Sydney, based at St Joseph’s Parish, Belmore.

He had a typically Tongan childhood and discovered his vocation travelling through the island nation.

From the age of five, a young Alatini travelled to school by boat from his very small island far north of Tonga.

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On these journeys, he would often see a particular missionary priest and this priest’s journeys gave him a sense of the adventure of the priesthood.

“I enjoyed travelling with the priest, like a mission, a missionary,” Fr Alatini said.

“When I went to high school the idea of going on mission really stuck with me and I stayed on that one,” he said.

His Marist high school, St John High School, provided the perfect opportunity to pursue this vocation.

In Fiji in the Pacific Regional Seminary, Fr Alatini was with Soane Patita Mafi, who is now Cardinal-Bishop of Tonga.

Cardinal Mafi (left), Bishop of Tonga and Fr Alatini Kolofo’ou SM (right). Image by Giovanni Portelli Photography

His ministry has stretched the Pacific, through Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Fiji and for four years in Australia, continuing the journey of the adventurous young boy.

Throughout his ministry, Fr Alatini was a keen rugby player but as the years have gone by, he is a more dedicated spectator.

“I’m getting too old now! My hope is to watch the sports,” he laughed.

Fr Alatini developed a passion for NFL while training to be a seminary staff member at Loyola College in Washington, DC.

“The other day I was watching the Super Bowl. When I was in America, they were all the time watching.”

“Last year the New England Patriots won and I don’t know if it’s been the first time for Philadelphia. It was a great game.”

One part of the priesthood that Fr Alatini has found very fulfilling is giving talks and seminars about the Catholic faith.

“Even when I was in the seminary, I used to lead a group of seminarians to the villages and gave a little talk on Mary, the saints, the Eucharist,” he said.

He likes to quote St Augustine, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen and St John Paul II.

RELATED: The good oil at the Tongan Catholic Community

His mission as a priest finds a fruitful expression in the work of the Tongan Catholic Community, of which he is the main chaplain, working with Fr Tupou and Ofa.

Fr Alatini’s advice to anyone reading the article is a quotation popularised by another great Catholic speaker, Fr Patrick Peyton: “The family that prays together stays together.”

Pray also “Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, pray for us and our family. Amen,” Fr Alatini said.


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