In my 24 years of teaching career, I have never experienced the death of one of my students at such a young age.
I was overcome with emotion when I heard the news of the passing away of 12 year old Eneriko Tinalevu of Year 7 Y of St. Teresa’s Catholic School, from a brain tumour that had spread rapidly in the space of barely 2 weeks.
Eneriko was born on the 10th February 2010 and was called to eternal rest on the 14th July 2022.
I want to thank the parents and teachers for their financial contributions towards the grieving family. Our Manager (Fr. Pat Colgan) and a school delegation presented our traditional reguregu on Monday 18th July 2022 at the family residence at Votua Village.
The entire staff, parents and students were so shocked and started sending sympathy messages to the grieving family through our school Viber. No one knew that Eneriko was not coming back to school to begin term 2 with his friends. The students shared tears when they saw his empty desk and wished for the walls to speak to their friend and say the final good bye. I spoke to the classmates of Eneriko and assured them that Eneriko is in the good hands of our loving Father. The students were counselled and helped to pray for Eneriko’s soul to rest in peace. It was a big lesson for me that “our life has no guarantees”. We can be called to eternal life at any time so we need to be ready at all the time. I encouraged them to love one another in the little ways that St. Teresa, our school patron taught us.
On Tuesday we decorated a memorial table near the school gate where we hung our Farewell Banner to Eneriko. Students came with flowers and wreaths on Wednesday morning to place there. These were later taken to Votua for the resurrection liturgy.
We are thankful to the Catechist of Votua, Mr Alekesio Ramoce, for leading the service. Though done in the Fijian language of the village, our students took part with readings and prayers in English too, many of them being of other races (and religions). The students escorted Eneriko with flowers and school flag from his home to the Church and then to the cemetery. The coffin was wrapped in the flag, and other Fijian mats, before he was placed in the grave. We took part in the yaqona ceremony afterwards and all shared the lunch prepared by the family.
The school has also decided to pay another visit the family to handover the books and other belongings that was left in his desk.
The family, and our school, walked through the valley of death last week, but through the love and prayers of our students, I know that the Good Shepherd was with us, guiding us. He is forever our Hope in Darkness, our Light in Despair.
*Edits and additions by Fr. Pat Colgan, Parish Priest, Christ the King Parish, Ba.