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 | By Helena Moniz

Mission work changes the world one life at a time

Doing missionary work is vital to the very nature and function of the Church, so says the Vatican II document Ad Gentes (To the Nations): “The Church has been divinely sent to all nations that she might be ‘the universal sacrament of salvation’.” The very nature of the Church is missionary, and she is summoned by Christ (Mt 5:13-14) with urgency to bring his message to the world.

The truth of this became very evident to Msgr. Edward D. Lofton on his recent mission trip to the Fiji archipelago, specifically to Koroivonu Village on Vanua Levu, the nation’s second largest island.

The Diocese of Charleston’s Office of the Propagation of the Faith, part of the Pontifical Mission Society, was asked to assist the village of Koroivonu in renovating and expanding their old church building. Several years ago, when the Propagation office was building a new church on the west end of neighboring island Taveuni, villagers of Koroivonu donated wood from their small forest to help with the project. The church on Taveuni was completed and dedicated by Archbishop Peter Loy Chong of the Archdiocese of Suva in February 2022.

On his recent trip, Msgr. Lofton arranged to visit the Koroivonu Village to thank them for their generosity and to assess the scope of their project. To his surprise, he was greeted by the local pastor and three seminarians: Naqoto Chat, Tapea Lauaa and Paul Suka. Two of the men are studying for the priesthood with the archdiocese, and the other will soon be ordained a deacon for the religious order the Missionary Society of St. Columban. 

Msgr. Lofton learned that the two archdiocesan seminarians were from the small northeast neighboring island of Rabi. He’d visited Rabi in 2008 when he heard that a local religious sister was building a kindergarten and had run out of funds to finish the project. The Propagation office provided the capital to complete the kindergarten. Two seminarians had directly benefited from the work of that missionary sister. The local pastor said that eight vocations had come from the area around Koroivonu Village, including Rabi Island.

“Sometimes when you are working to build the church in a very remote area, you wonder if your missionary efforts will have a positive effect on the overall Church,” Msgr. Lofton said. “Surprisingly, they really do!”

The Koroivonu Church project will cost about $70,000. If you would like to help or are interested in learning more, visit

Helena Moniz is the associate director for the diocesan Office of the Propagation of the Faith. Email her at