The Pioneer Group (1952) - The Arrival

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.