The first ever cardinal from Tonga will preside the CCD Mass of the Holy Spirit for the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa on Sunday, October 15, 2017 at 5 PM at Mt. Carmel Cathedral. His Eminence Cardinal Soane Patita Paini Mafi, Bishop of Tonga is visiting Saipan for the first time to lead Bishop Ryan and the clergy of the Diocese for their bi-annual retreat in Rota from the 16th until the 19th of this month.
The Mass with Cardinal Mafi is open for all the faithful but with a special attention to the youths of the diocese. “Since we are just beginning our CCD season, I would like for this Mass to be a Mass of the Holy Spirit”, says Bishop Ryan. Therefore all Pre-Confirmation and Confirmation students in all parishes in Saipan are required to participate. Lower grades CCD students are also invited to attend if they wish, accompanied by their parents.
To enable all the faithful to participate in this Youth Mass, all Sunday evening Masses in the parishes in Saipan are cancelled next weekend. This is an honor for the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa to receive Cardinal Mafi who is the only cardinal of the Episcopal Conference in the Pacific (CEPAC).
Cardinal Mafi was born in the Tongan capital of Nuku’alofa Dec. 19, 1961, the son and grandson of catechists. He joined a parish youth group growing up in the settlement of Kolofo’ou, near the capital, on the main island of Tongatapu.
He earned a degree in divinity at the Pacific Regional Seminary in Fiji. He was ordained a priest on 29 June 1991 and began serving in parish ministry. In 1998 he studied in the United States at Ignatius Loyola College, Maryland, where he earned a degree in pastoral counseling.
In 2001 he returned to the Pacific where he began serving as vice-rector at Pacific Regional Seminary in Fiji.
On October 4, 2007 he was ordained a bishop, subsequent to his appointment as Coadjutor of Tonga. On April 18, 2008 he became the Bishop of Tonga.
In 2008 he was elected chairperson for Caritas Tonga. That same year he began serving as chairperson at the Tonga National Forum of Church Leaders. He was elected president of the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific in 2009. In 2012 he celebrated the 170th jubilee of the first Mass in Tonga and the 125th anniversary of Catholic education in the country.
In October 2012 he participated in the Synod on the New Evangelization.
He participated in the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (October 2014) on The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization, and appointed by Pope Francis he participated in the XIV Ordinary General Assembly on The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World (October 2015).
When he was created Cardinal he was the youngest and the first cardinal of his home country Pope Francis made him a cardinal in the consistory on February 14, 2015, and was made titular Pastor of the Church of Santa Paola Romana in Rome.