Saint Pierre Celestin Catholic Church set at the foot of Mt Pahia which fronts Mt Otemanu. Legend holds that god descended on Bora Bora, the land of the gods, on a rainbow atop Mt Otemanu. It is truly a majestic setting for such an auspicious occasion:
Proceedings commence with the priest addressing parents as ‘guardians’ of those to be baptized as to the commitments that are about to undertake; a sufficiently powerful message so as to see (baby) Kaci himself reading the details with his parents, Toby & Yayoi!
Family & friends fill the church, impressed by the stained glasswork:
Godparents & immediate family in the front pew:
Those to be baptized in the company of their parents:
How wonderful is the image of mother & son:
Kaci’s cousin, Jordan, joins closely into the celebration:
In the case of the Catholic faith it is rare nowadays to have a priest on the island. Today, however, with a priest present, a busy schedule of baptisms, Mass & the blessing of a marriage are programmed.
Notice of a priest ‘being in town’ is short; in the case of a baptism it can mean that godparents from abroad can find it difficult to attend. For those being married it can be very much a question of luck to have a priest present at the time any guests from abroad are in Bora Bora. Such is island life!
A sign of the cross is placed on the forehead to signify an attachment to Christ:
White symbolising purity & innocence; the holy baptismal water, a sign of cleansing & of the washing away of all sin, is held in a massive pahua (clam):
The baby is anointed to symbolize a strengthening for the struggles of life ahead, & a candle lit to represent the movement from death to life in Christ:
A Thanksgiving Mass follows. Bora Bora is a profoundly Christian community. Although predominantly Protestant & Catholic most major denominations are represented on the island. Rather than being somewhat somber, somewhat staid ceremonies church services on Bora Bora strongly reflect Polynesian culture – they are vibrant & colourful, happy & joyful gatherings where singing & the closeness of the community are paramount as witnessed by the following photos. Children that wander are tolerated; participants are not measured ‘by the colour of their tie’, it is very much a ‘participation experience’:
Dan & Moana are to marry in 3 day’s time. The separation of powers between State & Church in France sees that couples must wed in a civil ceremony in the Town Hall for the marriage to be recognized. A church wedding will often follow……provided a priest is in town! Dan & Moana in learning of the presence of a priest on the island to conduct the baptisms the subject of this report seized the opportunity to have their impending marriage blessed before God.
Moving to the altar:
Their joy thereafter:
How lucky we are that Mal Lyons a professional photographer from Sydney & close family friend of Toby & Yayoi & of Dan & Moana is here to take the photos accompanying this report.
I write truly & sincerely when I record that, moved by the warmth & friendliness of the celebrations visitors to Bora Bora would claim it to be the best religious service they had ever attended.