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60th Priesthood Anniversary of two SSCC missionaries in Cook Islands (Brs)

On Sunday 24
th of August, the Diocese of Rarotonga celebrated the 60 years of priesthood of two SSCC missionary priests, Fr. John Rovers sscc and Fr. Damian Marinus sscc The occasion took place at Saint Joseph’s Cathedral in Avarua, Rarotonga, the seat of Mgr. Paul Donoghue sm, the 6th Catholic Bishop of the Rarotonga since 2011.

Fr. John Rovers was born in Made in Drimmelen (South Holland) on 1st January, 1928. As a young adult, he entered the religious community of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and was officially accepted as a member on 24th September, 1949.  He continued his studies for the priesthood and was ordained on the 29th August 1954.

Fr. Damian Marinus was born in Tilburg, Netherlands on 13th July, 1929.  He joined the religious community, the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (Ss.cc) as a young adult and was formally accepted as a member on 24th September 1949 at the age of 20.  It was in this community that he continued his studies for the Priesthood and was ordained on 29th August, 1954 at the age of 26 years.

The Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary had been sending priests to the Pacific Islands (Hawaii and Tahiti ) since 1827. Fr. John and Fr. Damian was assigned to the Cook Islands, South Pacific at the time of their ordination. In preparation for their missionary experience, they were sent to London for 4 months and New Zealand for 6 months to learn English. They  travelled to the Pacific on a boat filled with  immigrant passengers, arriving in Rarotonga on the Maui Pomare on the 11th November 1957.

Fr. John Rovers and Fr. Damian Marinus have known each other since school days and are still good friends. While both come from the south of Holland, other similarities in the two men can also be acknowledged. Both, for example, have learnt the Maori language well, have participated in the administration of the Diocese, and have worked on the islands of Atiu, Mauke and Rarotonga. Both also have the ability to encourage Cook Islanders to take responsibility for their  church.

The celebration on Sunday 24th of August was in gratitude for the 120 years of priestly service given by these two men. A niece of Fr John’s had travelled out for the occasion. Also present at the jubilee was Fr. Tahiri Tiaoao sscc from Tahiti.

For the occasion, Fr. Javier Álvarez-Ossorio sscc has sent a letter to greet and to congratulate the Diocese of Rarotonga, where our SSCC missionaries have been ministering since 1894. Three bishops, thirty-eight priests and two lay brothers, all of them SSCC members, have served the people of God in the Cook Islands during all these years. May the Lord bless the Diocese and also our SSCC mission all over the world today.


Click to read the news in UCANEWS (English)