Celebrating 70 years in Fiji

The Pioneer Group (1952)

Frs. Rod Hoult, J.J. O’ Loughlin, Michael Cryan, P.J. Kelly, Kevin Fleming, John Doyle, Gerry Hurley.
Frs. Martin Dobey, Dennis Fitzpatrick, Bishop Foley, Frs. Charlie Mahony and Seamus O’ Connor.
Frs. Jim Gavigan and Arthur Tierney


Thirteen priests were appointed to Fiji in 1951. Frs. Charlie Mahony, ordained in 1944 and Rod Hoult ordained in 1951, arrived in Fiji from Australia and New Zealand in 1952. There was an unusually large class of twenty-nine ordained in Dalgan, Ireland at the end of 1950 and nine of these were sent to Fiji. The other two Irish priests in the group were ordained previously. Fr. Michael Cryan, ordained in 1948 Fr. Dennis Fitzpatrick, twenty years previously and with many years of mission promotion experience in Ireland had been appointed Superior or Priest in-Charge of the group. Eleven Irish priests sailed from Vancouver to Suva on the Aorangi and arrived on February 22 after a voyage of 16 days. There to meet the Irish group on the quay who preceded them by a few weeks; Fr. Charles Mahony [Australia] and Fr. Rod Hoult [New Zealand]. Also waiting on the wharf to greet them were Bishop Foley and Irish Marists- Frs. Michael Griffin, Larry Hannan and Michael Bransfield, together with some Catholic Fiji Chiefs. From the wharf the priests were taken to the Cathedral Crypt for a meal of food that they had never seen before, yams, cassava and all sorts of fish.  Afterwards they were taken to St, Annes School for the remainder of the Fijian welcome ceremonies. More than 50 of the ship passengers followed the priests that evening and attended the functions.

After their Arrival….

Bishop Foley with, from left Frs. T. Heneghan, D. Fitzpatrick, J. Mahony and S. O’Connor and some Xavier College Students [early 1960s]

Fr. Dennis Fitzpatrick. He was the team leader of the First Columban group in 1952. Fr. Denis and Fr. Rod Hoult took over the Lautoka Mission Station without any language study. Fr. Charles O’Mahony was sent to Ba. He was in charge of Ba Catholic Mission, Varoka. Frs. Martin Dobey.  P.J. Kelly and Jim Gavigan were sent to Fr. Griffin SM in Taveuni to learn Fijian there. Frs. Doyle and O’Connor were to learn Hindi at Varoka and Fr. Fleming at Nadi. The other three, Frs. Michael Cryan, Gerry Hurley and Arthur Tierney were sent to St. Johns College in Cawaci to become familiar with the Fiji education system. Fr. Dermot Hurley arrived in Fiji at the beginning of September 1952, after spending 4 years working in Coburg parish, Melbourne. He joined Fr. J.J. Loughlin in Savusavu to study Fijian language until he was appointed Parish Priest of Ba in January 1953. He arrived in Fiji just in time to replace Fr. Charles O ‘Mahony who was sent from Fiji to teach Theology at the newly founded Columban Major Seminary at Wahoonga, N.S.W. Fr. Hurley had Frs. Seamus O’Connor and P.J. Kelly as his assistants.

Where they worked….

Bishop Foley with, from left Frs. T. Heneghan, D. Fitzparick, J. Mahony and S.O'Connor and some Xavier College Students[early 1960s]
  • Fr. Dennis Fitzpatrick: Lautoka [1952-1971; 1972-1976; Australia [1971-1972], Cathedral [1977-1981], Tamavua [1982-1983]; Xavier College [1984-1986]; Ireland; died in 1989.
  • Fr. Roderick Hoult: Lautoka [ 1952- 1953], Samabula [1954-1956], Nabala [1957-1963]; Nausori [1968-1970], General Council [1970- 1976]; New Zealand; died 1988.
  • Fr. John. J. Loughlin: Nabala [1953-1957]; Samabula [1957-1958]; Lautoka [1959-1960]; Yasawa [1961]; Nausori [1966-1967]; Ba [1968]; Tamavua [1973-1982]; Australia; died in 1999.
  • Fr. Michael Cryan: Xavier College -Ba [1953-1959]; Australia; died in 2007.

Frs. Mick Cryan, Kevin Fleming and John Doyle and children
  • Fr. Patrick. J. Kelly:  Vatukoula [1953-1957], Lautoka [1958- 1969]; Australia, Pakistan and Ireland; died in 2006.
  • Fr. Kevin Fleming: Nadi [1952]; Xavier College, Ba [1953-1960]; Samabula [1961- 1964]; England until 1975; Korolevu [1975- 1986], Vanuatu [1986]; Labasa [1987-1991]; died in Ireland in 1991.
  • Fr. John Doyle:  Nabala [1953-1958]; Vatukoula [1958-1959]; Nabala [1960-1966]; Ba [1967-1977];
  • Labasa [1978-1987]; Sigatoka [1989-1998]; died in Ireland 1998.
  • Fr. Gerry Hurley:  Xavier College [1953-1954]; Nabala [1955- 1956]; Cathedral [1957- 1958]; Britain [1959-1980]; Lomary [1981-1996]; Ireland [1992-2002]; died in Ireland 2002.

Fr. Gerry Hurley annoints an elderly
  • Fr. Martin Dobey:  Yasawa [1953-1959]; Vatukoula 1960-1964; Nabala [1964-1966]; Suva [ 1967-1968]; Lautoka [1969-1979]; Australia [1980-1984]; Naiserelagi [1984-1990]; Labasa [ 1991-2002]; retired 2002-2005 [Ireland]. Died in 2007.
  • Fr. Charles O’ Mahony:  Varoka, Ba [1952]; Tamavua and Suva [1994-2007]; Australia; died in 2013.
  • Fr. Seamus O’ Connor:  Ba [1953-1957]; Samabula [1959]; Ba [1959-1964]; Ireland; retired.
  • Fr. Jim Gavigan: Nabala [1953-1955]; Xavier College [1956-1957, 1960-1964]; Yasawa [1958-1959]; Vatukoula [1964-1970]; Tamavua [1972-1973]; Navesi [1973-1980]; Lautoka [1981-1987]; Tamavua [1987-1995]; Corpus Christi [1996-2009]; retired in Ireland. Died in 1999.
  • Fr. Arthur Tierney:  Lautoka [1953-1958]; Samabula [1958-1959]; Vatukoula [1959-1961; 1964-1966; 1977-1979]; Xavier College [1963-1964]; Lautoka [1967]; Tamavua [1969- 1972]; Ireland [1972-1976], Tanna [1980-1985]; Vanuakula [1985-1988]; Raiwaqa [1989-1993]; Suva [1993-2001]; died in 2001.