The St. Peter Chanel Samoan ministry is now at Holy Cross Catholic Church. On March 3, 2019 at 10:00 A.M. at Holy Cross Catholic Church the Samoan community as a ministry within the parish was welcomed at a joint Mass during which the Samoan Youth Choir will participated in the Mass singing songs in Samoan. Mass was followed by a reception in the Parish Hall.
About the Samoan Community
The goal of the St. Peter Chanel Samoan ministry is to create a central location for Samoan Catholics in western Washington where they can unite in fellowship, strengthen their faith and celebrate liturgical celebrations in their native language. The ministry is committed to promoting harmonious relationship among all parishioners and to help nourish faith and spiritual growth.
St. Peter Chanel is the patron saint of the Samoan community. He was the first martyr from Oceania. Father Peter Chanel was killed on the island of Futuna in New Hebrides near New Zealand. He was beatified in 1889 and canonized in 1954. His Feast is April 28.
History of the Samoan Community in Western Washington
1970s – 1980s
The Samoan community has served the Archdiocese of Seattle for over 30 years. They first gathered in St. George Parish, Seattle in the 1970’s before the first Samoan priest arrived from the Archdiocese of Samoa, Apia. Fr. Poao served at St George for several years before he was reassigned to St. Ann Parish in Tacoma. Realizing a significant number of Samoans at St. Ann, Fr. Poao alternated his time between the two parishes. Word of Samoan Masses being celebrated at the two parishes spread throughout western Washington and Samoans came from as far north as Everett and as far south as Vancouver. After serving over ten years with the Archdiocese of Seattle, Fr. Poao returned to Samoa, leaving the Samoan community without a Samoan priest. With the absence of a Samoan priest, the community missed the sense of belonging and the desire to worship in their language and culture. As a result, the community began to be scattered and families returned to their nearby parishes. Others, left the Catholic Church and look to non-Catholic faiths to fill the sense of belonging and to worship, culturally.
Fr. Laga Olaaiga was the second Samoan priest assigned to the Archdiocese of Seattle after a lapse of over three years after Fr. Poao returned to Samoa. Fr. Laga’s assignment helped to bring the community back together again. At this point, a recommendation was made for the community to decide which of the two parishes, St. George or St. Ann, was to become the central location for the Samoan community. Overtime, the decision to centralize the Samoan community to either of the two parishes never came. In 2016, Fr. Laga returned to Samoa after serving ten years with the Archdiocese of Seattle. Without a Samoan priest, the Archdiocese assigned Deacon Sagato Pele, the only Samoan deacon in the Archdiocese, to be the clergy and leader for the community.
In early 2018, the Seattle Archdiocese determined that the Samoan community would be part of the faithful at St. John of the Woods in Tacoma. In the process, the Archdiocese met with the community and a leadership committee was formed to provide better communication between the Seattle Archdiocese and the Samoan community. In the latter part of 2018, Deacon Sagato and his family relocated to Florida.
Presently, St. Peter Chanel Samoan Ministry is comprised of Samoan Catholics from various parishes throughout western Washington, including St. Olaf, Poulsbo; Our Lady Star of the Sea, Bremerton; Sacred Heart, Lacey; St. John of the Woods, Tacoma; Our Lady Queen of Heaven, Spanaway; St. Francis and St. John, Tukwila. Holy Cross Catholic Church will now serve as the St. Peter Chanel Samoan community’s home parish. The St. Peter Chanel Samoan Ministry is now part of the ministries of Holy Cross.
On behalf of St. Peter Chanel Samoan Ministry, I wish to express our heartfelt appreciation for your warm welcome and enthusiasm. We are very grateful for this partnership and opportunity so that we can share and grow together in our faith as brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank you to the families and all parishioners of the Tacoma Catholic Parishes of St. Patrick, St. Rita and Holy Cross.
I wish to especially acknowledge Pastor David, Fr. Ronald, Kevin Lovejoy, Georgina Rawlings, Lenn Doran, Sandra Kuharic and the Holy Cross Pastoral Council for their dynamic leadership and support. Fa’afetai tele— Thank you very much!
Chair, St. Peter Chanel Samoan Ministry (SPCSM)
We are very excited about our partnership with the SPCSM and the opportunity it brings for new friends in the Tacoma Catholic faith community, especially Holy Cross Catholic Church. The Samoan community will hold a separate Samoan Mass monthly at Holy Cross Catholic Church and meet in the Parish Hall for youth and community faith formation programs and events. Afio Mai— Welcome!